How I Developed Better Habits With Calendar Appointments

Old habits die hard. You probably experienced this when you vow to eat all the salads forever, only to crash and burn in a few days. It takes time to develop new habits . A lot of time. For me, converting my habits into calendar appointments made a huge difference. Here’s how it might work for you.

In an ideal world, we would all easily develop habits that will help us succeed. Of course, reality gets in the way of partying, as forming new habits requires constant concerted effort and repetition. Often the problem is just remembering to do the damn thing every day.

Technology rushes to the rescue!

Things are so much easier when I started to transfer these reminders on outsourcing warning function on my calendar that is synchronized between my various devices. Hey, if I’m already filling my weekly calendar with mandatory tasks and reminders , then it makes sense to also include a habit that I’d like to develop better throughout the week. Every time I need to, say, take a creatine supplement, an alarm goes off on my phone, and I do it (especially if it only takes a minute).

It’s simple, right? Except that you need to take several steps before we start planning a new habit. While we’ve already discussed a similar method for simple habits , mine is slightly more specific to health and fitness. Here’s what to do first:

Break the habit

The time you carve into your calendar needs to be respected (otherwise it will become pure anarchy). When the warning is triggered, you must act accordingly. What you specify as an appointment alert is important.

The key is to reduce the habit to the smallest repeatable step and put that on your calendar. Don’t say something like ” Better have breakfast ” because there is nothing special about getting better that you can actually act every day. Instead, you may find it helpful to eat something like “Make oatmeal for breakfast tomorrow night .”

In other words, think about a relevant and low barrier to entry so you can practice this habit consistently, even if it is reluctant at first. The result of breaking the habit down to its most elementary, repeatable step is that you also get the opportunity to develop basic skills to get better and better in the highest form of the habit.

Find out the time and frequency

Ask yourself how often you would like to realistically practice the indicated habit. Based on what you know about your quirks and schedule, determine a time or day (or both!) When you will be most available and able to take action. Even if you like aiming high, set the bar low enough so you can stick to that frequency in the long run. Over time, it can be raised when it gets better.

For example, if you needed to cook oatmeal overnight, you could probably cut out about 15 minutes to do this right before bed on Sunday night. If you have a habit of exercising more often, you can get notifications three or four times a week in the morning or evening (depending on your preference) to start with.

Add basic activities to your calendar

It’s time to set up live alerts. Hence it is about messaging. In my experience, messages in the form of commands and questions are generally more effective.

Homemade food with family tonight. versus making a family dinner at home.

Did you train today? versus What have you done so far to reach your goal of 3 workouts per week?

What to do if you ignore your warnings

Many calendars allow you to set up multiple alerts, but one alert should be sufficient. The paradox of using appointment alerts to build habits is that you may eventually stop taking in your own alerts.

It is important to honestly measure your progress in adopting this habit. If you find yourself constantly talking about the appointment so as not to do it, but do nothing, it could be one of the following reasons:

  1. The immediate task is too confusing and not the smallest repetitive action you can take. Break it down further.
  2. There may be inconsistencies in time and frequency; try a different time slot and decrease the frequency.
  3. You have linked the beep to something else and you can ignore it. Try to tie a specific sound to your habits.

Remember, for this to work, you must make a commitment to yourself to act on each alert as it comes. Relaxing too much will make it harder to make it a routine.

Help lead the habit home

Eventually, I found myself starting to work on the habit even before the alerts arrived, after which I delete them or reduce the frequency to two weeks or once a month for periodic reminders. Overall, I think it’s a success, if I somehow incorporated it into my daily routine – it doesn’t have to be perfect.

Here are a few things to consider to keep this habit back home :

  • Have follow-up warnings. Set up additional alerts related to the main habit. If you want to write in your diary every night , you might have, “Think about the ups and downs of my day,” and then, “What did you write about tonight?”
  • Take responsibility. Someone to hold you accountable is one option; You can also turn this into a game by assessing yourself at the end of each week how well you did with the practice of your habit. 0 for ” Didn’t do shit” or 5 for ” Nailed”!
  • One habit at a time . It’s hard enough to develop one new habit, so trying to master several at once can only blow your head. Stop it.
  • Make sure your life is in order. Excessive stress and many life circumstances can interfere with your efforts to develop a new habit. For example, if you want to improve your sleep, this simply won’t happen if you work 80 hours a week and fulfill family responsibilities. Better to wait (or force) your situations to become more aligned with your habitual goals.

However, if you find yourself missing warnings here and there, don’t call it flushing. These small bumps on a long road won’t have a noticeable impact in the long run – as long as you don’t throw away the towel completely.

Have patience

Some say it takes 21 days to get used to.

A study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology refuted this, concluding that it could take much longer – between 18 and 254 days, according to their findings. This is from 2 to 8 months , depending on habit, person and circumstances. Ultimately, however, don’t get hung up on specific deadlines, just that you have to make consistent (not ideal) efforts over a long, long period of time.

So, if you have trouble forming healthier habits, try turning them into appointments that you need to follow because you are investing in yourself. It will get easier over time.

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