Habit-forming

I’ve been thinking a lot about habits, recently. In particular, how to create good habits in myself. I remember reading somewhere that it takes two or three weeks of daily repetitions to form a new habit. However, it seems this might be an underestimate.

The advantage of a habit, or a good habit, anyway, is that it seems to require so much less effort to do whatever it is once it’s habitual. In many ways, not doing an habitual task seems more effortful than doing it. It becomes harder to break the habit than it is to perform the task. Cory Doctorow puts it well when he says that “Habits are things you get for free.”

Regardless of the exact number, it’s clear that it takes some time, and some number of regular repetitions before something can be considered truly habitual.

Being a geek, I wanted to keep a record so I could monitor my progress. For a while, I tried recording in a text file the days on which I had or hadn’t done something I wanted to make it into a habit – in this case, doing daily Spanish practice using duolingo.com. But then I ended up having either multiple lists for multiple daily tasks, or one list that was difficult to read and annoying and time-consuming to maintain.

So, I created a little web application to help me manage the tasks I wanted to do every day, and to keep track of the days when I had completed those tasks, or not.

They say that naming things is one of only two hard problems in computer science (the second being cache-expiry, and the third off-by-one errors), so I don’t feel too bad about the uninspired name I chose for it. If you’re interested, go take a look;

http://mydailytodolist.org

Now I get to tick off “Blog” on today’s list.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

 

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