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?
This morning I finished listening to Routine Machine on audible. The book is by John Lamberton, who describes himself as The King of Routine and in it he discusses the power of a good routine and how it helps him (and many others) achieve financial suggess and good health.
I’d highly recommend it. There are some really good ideas in there and it really gets you thinking about long terms goals and the small steps we take each day (how agile is that) towards achieving them.
Of course the book isn’t perfect, there are a few ideas and comments I really don’t like. Especially around the Director or Investor of any company locking himself away for a week to write a book and ignoring all emails and messages of people who work for him who require help with emergencies. I take John’s point on board – that he shouldn’t be a bottleneck and that these emergencies often don’t actually need his help. But I can’t help thinking that he and Simon Sinek would have a very heated debate on that one!
However, there was so much I did find valuable that I’d recommend you read it to. Here are my highlights:
Big goals aren’t achieved by a few big actions, we achieve them by doing lots of good little actions day after day, week after week, year after year.
The biggest asset you have to achieving success is time, don’t expect success overnight – aim for it and embed the habits you need to make it happen into your daily routine.
Track these habits in an excel spreadsheet (other spreadsheets are available) and give yourself gold stickers to ensure that they are sticking.
Don’t bite off too much too soon.
Don’t read books without taking the message way. Read the book, follow the instructions.
Identify what’s important and make sure you schedule time for those things first. Put the big immovable objects in your calendar first, not the day to day 30 minute meetings we’re all a slave to.
Although John told me to write a review I don’t want to share all the advice (because second hand is never as good as the source). Instead, if I’ve peaked your interest then grab a copy and have a read.