Use a Paperclip Strategy to Build Good Habits

When it comes to developing good habits, there is no magic bullet. Consistency is the key to success . If you’re trying to develop a new habit or just stick with an old one, try the paperclip strategy.

As productivity writer James Clear explains, habits are formed both physically and ritually. Having something tangible that you can manipulate and watch as it grows helps you work towards a goal and thus build a habit. This is why Clear is adapting the strategy that stockbroker Tyler Dirsmead used: moving paper clips from one jar to another:

He placed two cans on his table. One was filled with 120 paper clips. The other was empty. That’s when the habit appeared.

“Every morning I started with 120 paper clips in one jar and kept dialing until I moved them all to the second jar.” —Trent Dirsmead

That’s all. 120 calls a day. One paper clip at a time.

By moving paperclips from one jar to another, Dearsmead noticed progress and set a goal for himself. The ritual helped to amplify the action he was taking. Of course, it can be adapted to anything. You can move paper clips from one jar to another every time you finish another job or finish another workout. You can change the schedule from 120 per day to 30 per month. The point is to connect your habit with something tangible, and you can watch it get better over time.

How to Stick to Good Habits Every Day Using the Paperclip Strategy | James Clear


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