I’ve spent a lot time reading about daily habits and routines recently. Both Atomic Habits and Routine Machine strongly advocate spending a small amount of time each day to contribute towards your larger goals. I like the idea, after all as an agile geek I fully support the importance of transparency. Otherwise, how can we expect to inspect and adapt?
I mentioned some of my 2021 goals recently. Some of these are perfect examples where I must display if not daily, then weekly behaviour if I’m going to hit them. Donuts and Dragons isn’t going to write itself, I need to put words on the page day after day. My reading goal isn’t magically going to happen, I need to spend a little time each morning listening to audible or perhaps reading in the evening.
To this end I’m experimenting with a Personal KPI spreadsheet. In this spreadsheet I’m tracking various KPIs such as “Donuts Words Written” and “Time Reading”. I’m also tracking various KPIs around health and daily routine. Am I hitting Inbox Zero every day?
My spreadsheet gives me a daily score, however most beneficial I believe will be the weekly rolling averages. I don’t have to write a blog post every day, however I aim to write at least three a week. I don’t have to listen to my audiobooks every morning but I do want to make sure I’m listening for an appropriate time each week to hit my quarterly targets.
It may seem like overkill, but I’m hoping that this mechanism will help me stay on track for some of the big goals I’ve set myself this year.
What do you think? Is this overly complex for personal goals? Do you have a similar mechanism and how did it work for you? Let me know in the comments below!
Atomic Habits is a different book, more granular and if you’re interested in personal productivity then it’s a good read.
In the book James first sells the value of habits, discussing how small incremental changes each day are vital to achieving major results. Then he moves on to deconstruct the various parts of a habit including Cue, Crave, Response, Satisfaction. In other words something triggers our habit, then we develop a craving for something, we act in a pre-trained way to satisfy that craving, and gain satisfaction.
In a positive habit this may look like:
Every morning when I get up
I want to clear my head
So I meditate
And feel better afterwards
However, in a negative habit this could be:
When I’m bored
I crave entertainment
So I open social media
Which entertains me
James then talks about how to hack these habits by eliminating cues, changing rewards, and building commitments so the habits you do want to form stick and the ones you don’t are broken. It’s good, sensible stuff.
As I mentioned above there’s a LOT of crossover with Routine Machine, however Atomic Habits goes far more into the techniques for forming and breaking daily habits. In his book Mark Lamberton focuses on how to point these in the direction to achieve big things. I see the two books as a very valuable pairing because, if I was to raise a criticism with Atomic Habits there’s not enough pagespace dedicated to creating structure so habits point you towards your longer term goals (although the idea of reinforcing identity is a very good one – see “Habit 2” of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People).
I listed my 2021 goals in an earlier post and I think there’s lots that can help me here. Specifically I want to work on the cues and immediate satisfaction of my reading, writing, and blogging. Perhaps putting together a calendar so it’s very obvious which days/weeks I’ve missed.
Have you read Atomic Habits? What did you think of it and have you encorporated any of it’s advice into your daily routines?