How to learn to get up earlier, read more and learn languages
From Monday we can do everything: quit smoking, play sports, drink more water and less coffee. But how to make it so that only on Monday the matter does not end there?
Develop a habit , believes freelancer and lifecourse Belle Cooper. And it sounds much easier than it seems: you just need to remove the barriers and not to take on too much. If you want to read more - start from one page per day, because it is so simple that it is even embarrassing to otmazyvatsya.
I prefer to work efficiently rather than a lot, and I am constantly looking for ways to make this task easier for me. Two years ago, I became the leading Buffer writer - and I had a chance to delve into the topic. Now I am ready to present the results.
It all started with the habit of practicing French just five minutes a day. A year later I can read, write and speak basic French. And now I read five times more books a year than a couple of years ago. It sounds powerful, but to achieve this is easier than it seems. I developed small daily habits that eventually turned into serious results.
To create a new habit, I adhere to four rules that always work.
1. Start small: repeat the same action every day
When a few years ago I set out to improve my life, the first mistake I made was too high demands on myself. I tried to force myself to read one book a week and get up at six in the morning instead of 9, as usual.
The difference between how I lived and how I wanted to live was so huge that I was constantly failing. And each such failure increasingly demoralized me on my way.
What I really needed was to achieve small victories and build daily habits from them. In the end, I thought of it and focused on repeating the same actions every day, not really steaming about the exhaust. In other words, first quantity, then quality.
Three rules of habit formation according to James Clear
A great example is flossing. You want to do this every night, but for years you don’t pick up a dental floss. If you get a hank from a dark box and intend to devote 10 minutes to cleaning every evening, you will not last a week in this mode, because you demand too much of yourself.
But small undertakings are so effective that they look like super strength. It works like this: you take on the smallest amount you can work with. In the case of dental floss, brush only one tooth. This is also a cleaning with a thread, but in this way you will not achieve a significant breakthrough in oral hygiene.
But that's the power. At first, you concentrate on cleaning only one tooth every night. And so the whole week. Then two, three, four. You quickly get used to it, because there is nothing complicated about it. You spend so little effort on cleaning one tooth with a thread that you can’t think of a reason not to do it. And as soon as the habit comes to automatism, you begin to brush two teeth a day. For a while, you brush two teeth every night. Then three. And so gradually increase their number, never trying to suffice too much, so as not to become lazy.
We tend to overestimate our capabilities, especially when it comes to what we have not done before. It is better to be realistic and start with 20% of the time and effort from those that we would like to devote to a new cause.
Reading: Page per day
I started reading one page of the book every night before bed. Sometimes I read more, but if I didn’t want to, I read my stated minimum and considered the mission accomplished. Later, when this habit had already taken root, I began to count down the time and daily devoted to reading at least 15 minutes, until I reached 30 minutes every evening and another 30 almost every morning.
In 2013, I read seven books. In 2014 -22, in 2015 - 33. Almost five times more than in 2013.
I worked on this habit for a year and a half. It sounds like it's a lot, but it only seems that way.
When I work on a habit, all I think about is how much I need to read in order to think that I have successfully fulfilled my commitment to myself. It is always a small effort that I focus on. But when I look back on progress, I understand what noticeable results I can achieve thanks to these small daily habits.
French: One lesson every morning
I used to indulge in French, but I didn’t really work out regularly. When I decided that I really wanted to improve my French, I began to build the habit of doing one lesson at Duolingo every morning while I was drinking coffee (in case you don’t know, Duolingo is a free web and mobile application that allows you to learn different foreign languages).
It takes about five minutes to complete one lesson, so this is a tiny commitment and a very simple task if you are used to sitting and drinking coffee in the morning anyway. Over time, I began to do more than one lesson — two, three, sometimes four or even five, if there was a desire. But one lesson was a mandatory minimum, which I did, even if there was no desire.
Just one lesson per day is enough for the habit to take root - what's so complicated about that? Today, I also use Babbel (a paid language learning app) to better understand the grammar and structure of French, and at Duolingo I have already gone through a whole section - this means that I know French by 41%! This is a solid achievement for five minutes a day.
2. Focus on just one habit at a time.
For me personally, the most difficult thing in building a new habit is not to take on too much. I have a tendency to lean heavily on something with such enthusiasm that it is just right to start building several habits at once.
Every time I applied this approach, everything ended badly. Sometimes it is impossible to root several habits, and sometimes none at all. It looks like multitasking, when the brain has to constantly switch, because you just can't focus on several things at the same time.
So I made it a rule to work overnight on just one habit. And only when this habit is so automatic that I will stop noticing how to follow it, can we proceed to building a new one. I read every night, and only then did I switch to French. And when I got used to study every day, I began to work on the habit of getting up early.
Sometimes building a habit can take a lot of time. And the early ascents were the hardest for me. I focused on this for about four months: I tried different approaches, monitored progress, and reported to friends who were willing to help me. I was determined to make it a habit, but at the same time it meant that I would not be able to go on to form any other habits until I reached my goal.
Today I am glad I did not give up, because without problems I wake up early almost every day. It was not easy, but it was worth it.
The time that you need to form one habit, for all individually. It took me four months, it can take you more, and maybe less. They say that it’s enough to develop a habit for 21 days, but research shows that everyone has his own time to take root in new habits. In one study, subjects took an average of 66 days — about two months.
I realized that each habit should be perceived differently, depending on how difficult it is for you to stick with it. And not to work simultaneously on several habits, but to concentrate all the time and energy on only one.
3. Remove barriers: keep everything you need at hand
I also found it much easier to make a habit if you always have the necessary tools at hand. For example, when I drink coffee and I already have my phone in my hand, it is easier for me to start a French lesson right away. Reading before bed made it easier when I started to keep the book by the bed.
Some call it a turning point. This is a small change that keeps you from making excuses not to do. One cool example of a tipping point is found in a tetanus study at a pedagogical university. The study examined the following question: would the fear implanted in students cause you to get a tetanus to get vaccinated against it? The level of fear did not cause any noticeable changes, but a valuable observation did reveal that when on campus a card with the designation of a medical office was hung up and the time taken for tetanus vaccinations was increased from 3% to 28%.
The tipping point is a small change that makes the task simple enough to get started right now. I like to think of it as the removal of barriers so that it is enough for an action to reach out or even less.
One habit I started in 2016 is to play the piano more often. Now I only play when the muse rolls in, and this is enough to improve a little bit. But I noticed that it's easier to seat yourself at the piano when it is in the access zone. Now it is in the corner of the dining room, so I can always sit down and play a little while waiting for something to get ready, or after an evening snack.
Another habit that I want to work on this year is to exercise regularly.
I noticed that when I put on sportswear, I’ll most likely go for a run, but until I put it on, I can think up as many reasons as not to go.
If I put the sports uniform in a prominent place from the evening, then in the morning the likelihood that I will put on it and force myself to practice, greatly increases. This is exactly what I plan to do more regularly when I focus on this habit.
4. Build habits: build new habits on old ones
One of my favorite tricks for building new habits is to build them on old ones. It helps to build several habits into the daily routine, and each of these habits serves as a trigger for the other.
You probably already have a lot of habits that you do not even realize. Brushing your teeth before bedtime, getting out of bed in the morning, making coffee at the same time are all existing habits. If you do something every day, without even thinking about it, add new habits to the side.
By making one habit, you will automatically proceed to the next. For example, when I get out of bed, the first thing I do is go to the kitchen to make coffee. When the coffee is ready, I proceed to the French lesson. My existing habit of making coffee serves as a trigger for the habit of learning French. And when in the evening I go to bed, I take a book from the nightstand and read it while sitting in bed. That is, when I get into bed, a trigger is triggered, which is time for me to read.
The study suggests that this is the surest way to stick to new habits when you first start building them. Gradually, you add new and new habits to old habits, taking advantage of what you are already doing old on the machine.
For me, building new habits has become something of a hobby. I like to think about all the improvements that I will achieve over time, simply by getting used to new small activities day after day. Due to this significant results become much more achievable.