December 12, 2002

Great story: “At least they’re Very Good Seats.

From Joel on Software‘s forum:

I read that, if you do something for 21 days in a row, it becomes a habit.

So I decided to pick one, and only one, good habit at a time. For example, the first habit was to get up as soon as the alarm rang every morning. No hitting the snooze button, no nothing. At that point I *had* to get up, brush my teeth, do a few getting-up-related actions — you see what I mean.

Other than that, aside from obvious responsibilities like showing up for work, paying the bills, etc — stuff that would hurt myself or others if neglected — I demanded NOTHING else from myself for the rest of the day.

When I say nothing, I really mean nothing. I was even allowed to go back to bed after I’d done a few actions to establish that I had gotten up. This may sound insane and self-defeating, but it’s not.

That’s because the object was not to train myself to get up, get dressed, eat a perfectly balanced breakfast, jog three miles, and then cycle to work and arrive on the dot of nine. It was simply, plainly, to train myself that the sound of an alarm was a signal to get up. Nothing more. And it worked. After a lifetime of crossing the room to shut off three separate alarms *without even waking up*, this was a huge breakthrough. So you have to decide whether a seemingly small goal is best broken down into several even smaller goals.

If you fall off the wagon during the 21 days, you have to start again.

After 21 consecutive days, you can give yourself a small reward such as a book or CD you’ve been wanting.

From then on, you will be firmer in your resolve to meet that goal every single day.

Give yourself a few days off between goals — during these days off, you still meet Goal 1, because it is now a habit.

Then, for the next 21 days, you decide on Goal 2, and success means meeting Goals 1 and 2 for 21 consecutive days.

Often, you’ll find yourself itching to meet Goal 347 while you’re still on Goal 3. Don’t allow yourself to indulge in any Goal 347-related activities. By the time you finish Goal 346, you will have been itching to meet Goal 347 for so long that it will seem like a treat, and not the burden it was before you started all this.

Best of luck.

Fernanda Stickpot
Wednesday, December 11, 2002

By the way, I’ve been rather uncommunicative for the past couple of days because we’ve been without power at home since noon yesterday. No e-mails, and no going in to work. Fun.

And I’m becoming increasingly decided that a good pair of muffling headphones are essential equipment for a cubicle-based work environment — not for listening to music, but to block noise. I’m constantly distracted (even just mildly, which is enough to hurt my productivity) by surrounding conversations, people walking down the hallway, etc. Just putting on a pair of headphones without plugging them in should make me significantly more productive.

It’s the next best thing to having separate offices, but since there are only two of those on this entire floor, I doubt that’ll happen any time soon.


In other news, I read some of the coolest bloggers ever. Your honor, I present Exhibit A by Saalon, Exhibit B by Brennen, Exhibit C by Joel Spolsky, and Exhibit D by James Lileks.

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