Thursday, January 10, 2013

Forming New Habits (Slowly!)

It is a new year, and most people make resolutions or have some goals in mind that they set for themselves for the year.  When I set myself huge goals, they always seem to backfire.  I think that I just go about the whole goal-setting thing the wrong way.  But, I know exactly what my problem is!  I look at things in too large of chunks, and I fail to create habits that will carry me through!

Until I get into the habit of doing the small steps required to get me to my goals, I will not succeed.  Period.  I have never been good at habits.  But, again, I think I know what my problem is!  I try to make myself form too many new habits at once!  I get all gung ho about doing better at life, and then I do really well...for about a week... and then I don't.

I was spending some time last week browsing around in the google play store looking for some apps that may help me out with getting organized and things of that nature (I was being all gung ho, and downloaded far too many and overwhelmed myself!).   However, I found this one called Habit Streak, and I installed it.  It is a free app for android (I'm not sure if there is an iphone version or not but you could search for it.)  It lets you type in categories of things that you wish to turn into habits, and then it lets you type in questions that you want it to ask you each day.

You can input as many or as few question prompts as you like.   When you open the app, you can check off each activity that you've completed for the day, and it keeps a running total of how many days in a row you've done it.  If you miss a day, the counter resets to zero.

It's very simple to use.  I downloaded a few others, and they were not as user friendly.  I found some with some extra graphing features, but they would have taken me too long to figure out.  I wanted something simple that I could get started with right away, and that is exactly what this is!

Now, to be honest, when I first downloaded it, I did go a little bit crazy with my list.   I had made a list of everything that I felt I should be doing every single day, and I was typing away listing all of these things.   And right now there are a good number of things on my list that have yet to get done (such as exercising, and going to bed on time).  But there are other things that I have done every single day for over a week, and that is a pretty big accomplishment for me!

So, I have decided to cut back on the things that I expect myself to do, and work my way up to doing more things once I have my habits well established!

Here is a list of the habits I am trying to form/maintain for the month of January:

Cleaning:  1 load of dishes, 1 load of laundry  (I was already pretty good with these two, but sickness and travel had gotten me off track)  15 minutes decluttering  (more on this later!)

Online Clutter:  I have been inundated with emails!  I have a gmail, hotmail, and outlook email address, and after not touching my laptop for an entire week, those inboxes were full!   I didn't want to spend an entire day going through them, and I get a lot of junk mail!   So my habit for January is removing 1 newsletter subscription each day from each account  (I then delete everything from that sender).  I've also been removing a like from facebook each day, as well, so I can see that I actually have friends again.  (I think it's working!)

These are habits that will have an end point sometime in the future-hopefully I don't have a full 365 days worth of junk mail to unsubscribe from!  I just might!

This may not seem like a big deal, but it was becoming a source of stress for me, and it will become a real time saver each day as I have that many less emails and posts to sift through.

Coupons:  I shared with you on Tuesday how I was spending 10 minutes each day clipping, sorting, and organizing my unruly coupons.  I have finally made it to the end of my stack of old coupons, determined which inserts to keep and begun sorting through the one's that I've clipped.   9 days and counting!  I've been spending 15 up to this point, so that's 2 hours and 15 minutes spent so far this year on coupons, and I think I've gotten far more done than if I had done that all in one sitting!

As this continues to become a habit, I think I will be able to stay on top of my coupons much better.

Personal:  Read my Bible, and take a vitamin.  Two things I had been failing to do.  Both were taking their toll on me.

Do I have other goals?  Sure!  I set a goal on Goodreads to read 48 books this year.  But last year, my goal was 36 and I ended up reading 61.   Reading is already a habit I have, so I'm not very concerned about doing it, but I am trying to be more intentional about what I read.

I have a goal of going to bed at a more decent hour, but instead of just jumping into that, I'm taking it slowly too, deducting minutes each night until I'm there!

There are other habits that I want to form, but as I've already seen with my failed first week attempt at them, these are the ones I can manage right now.   As I continue doing these things daily, and they become more and more automatic for me, I will slowly add in more habits that I wish to form.

I am also not going to make out a list of habits I want to form for each month of the year, because it's very likely that by the time I get to October, my priorities will have shifted completely and that habit will no longer be important to me.

I want to get to the end of this year, look back and say "I've made progress!", not "Look at all these things I said I would do, and didn't!"

How about you?  Are you trying to form any habits or achieve any goals?


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