In my last post I discussed how there’s so much great advice out there on how to be more productive each day but most of us struggle to implement these new habits. Check the last post to understand what’s holding you back.
In my quest for complete transparency here at simple mindfulness, I’m laying out the steps that I’ll be following to kick the excessive email habit and replace it with my new writing habit. I consciously chose to label it “my” new writing habit instead of “a” new writing habit to further own it.
I’m taking the advice of Leo Babauta at Zen Habits. He’s the master at creating new habits. Up to this point I’ve told myself that making these changes should be easy and there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to just wake up tomorrow and start doing things the way I would like. Well, I can’t tell you how many months of this kind of thinking has gotten me nowhere.
So here’s my plan:
- Identify the new habit you want to adopt. Only one habit at a time for 30 days minimum.
- Keeping my email program open all day and checking my inbox throughout the day.
- Writing once a week when my reminder pops up telling me it’s time to write my next post.
- Check email at 11am, 4pm and 9pm (after the kids are in bed) for no more than one hour each time. Keep my email program closed the rest of the day.
- Write first thing every morning.
While this may appear to be two new habits, I’m actually replacing a bad habit (checking email first thing in the morning) with a desirable habit (writing first thing in the morning).
- Create accountability by making it social.
Sometimes you can get someone to join you in reinforcing a new habit like exercising. My new habits aren’t group activities so I’m creating accountability by telling you all what I’m up to. I’ll report in at the end of each day on my simple mindfulness Facebook page.
I have also added this to the log I keep on my refrigerator where I track three things that I want to keep myself accountable for each day. I’ll simply put a check in the appropriate column: started day with email or started day with writing. The logs I kept for the last couple of months only had “Write” at the top of a column so I could check if I wrote or not. This wasn’t nearly enough. It didn’t work.
I’m making writing the most important thing in my day (other than my family and health). If I have other deadlines or “work” to do, it all comes second. I’ll figure out a way to make it all happen with writing happening first.
- Enjoy the habit.
This one seems like a no-brainer. Of course I’ll enjoy doing more of something I love! But I know that chattering little monkey mind will try to spoil my party and bring up all the reasons I shouldn’t be having this much fun. I’m aware and I’m ready for him.
- Handle the temptation to fall back into the old habits.
Notice that I didn’t say “avoid” the temptations. Avoiding is pretending they don’t exist. I know they’ll arise and this is what I’m going to do about them:
- Start by becoming aware.
I’ll be aware of the urge to check email instead of write. I’ll notice my triggers, most of which are simply having my email program open and having a pause in my train of thought.
- Don’t act.
Instead of mindlessly repeating my old pattern, once I notice the thought, I’ll take a deep breath and consciously do nothing.
- Let it pass.
I know that if I wait long enough, the urge to check my email will pass, just like every other negative thought and emotion.
- Beat the rationalizations.
My monkey mind will say something like, “Oh, just check in for a minute. It won’t take long. You don’t have to go through ALL your emails. The more you do now, the less you’ll have to do later. It will be one less distraction while you’re writing.”
I’ll beat these rationalizations by reminding my monkey that those excuses are what leave me writing only once a week. Checking email is what keeps my stress level higher than I want. And I don’t really need to be needed that much. I know that the subtle feeling of stress in my chest that I constantly feel when my email program is open noticeably drops as soon as I close my email program.
That’s my plan and I’m sticking with it.
Nothing else I’ve tried has worked so far, regardless of how smart I think I am (actually, the whole “smart” thing is usually what trips me up). Leo is the master of changing habits, given how he has transformed his life. I’ll be humble and coachable and follow the steps and let you know how I do.
I would love it if you would join me on this 30 day challenge to change a habit. Leave a comment and let me know what habit you’ll be changing. Then post with me on my simple mindfulness Facebook page with your daily results. No judgments. Only support! Game on!
Enter your name and email below to receive The Mindful Living Guide and the latest from the blog. You know your life will be better for it.
Create your own user feedback survey
Living intentionally means being present to the moment, living your values and ending up where you intended to be, living how you intended to live.
But there's no way to really do that unless you have thought about where you want to end up and how you want to live. It's the "how" part that we all seem to forget about.
In this list of 100 Things To Do Before You Die, you'll be challenged because you won't just be thinking about your adventures. You'll also be thinking about the ways you want to grow, learn and give. This gets you focused on the "how."
Go ahead and dive into this list, and if you want the full 100 Things, get them here at Wishing Well Coach, a blog for people who want to have more fun and do what they care about at work.
Need a great guide to help you to begin a meditation practice or more insight to deepen your current practice? I just discovered an in-depth, very professionally done course that you can take with you on your iPhone or iPad. It's called 10% Happier: Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics.
It's a two week course where you’ll learn how to meditate with skeptical newsman Dan Harris and one of the greatest American meditation teachers, Joseph Goldstein.
Every day, delivered straight to your mobile device, you’ll get video lessons that teach the essentials and guided audio meditations that walk you through the practice in the simplest possible way. Also, because self-discipline isn't always enough, you’ll also get a living, breathing coach to help you follow through. This is the part that blew me away. Joe actually checked up with me via text and email on a number of occasions to answer my questions.
The course is usually $19.99 but you, my dear readers, can get 20% off by using the promo code: simple. And there's a money-back guarantee. Whether you're a regular meditator or new to the practice, I highly recommend this course.
Find out how to easily (and happily) manage your weight with mindfulness using the Mindful Body Program.