The best way to break a bad habit is to make it impossible to do. And the best way to create a good habit is to automate it so you never have to think about it again. — James Clear
Although it seems like we all have a million and one things to get done, Mark Zuckerberg was onto something with the whole grey T-shirt everyday thing. Similar to multitasking, when we constantly make a multitude of choices in a short period of time, our decision-making becomes impaired. It’s nice to feel in control of our day-to-day activities by mulling over every option and outcome, but how many choices do you make a day that bring actual value to your life?
When we free our minds of frivolous and inconsequential decision-making, we make room for better decision-making with increased mental clarity and foresight.
When instituting new habits into our routines, creating an automation plan is crucial to long term success. The key is to reduce the amount of manual decision-making involved with your new desired behavior. This ensures that your goals are not left up to chance, your mood or any other fluctuating external factor. Automation is one of the simplest ways to free up mental space and decrease the resistance associated with instituting a new habit. Try to free up some of your mental bandwidth by automating or outsourcing one activity you do on a day-to-day or weekly basis.
Automating your daily choices doesn’t have to be expensive and doesn’t mean you’ll end up shelling over your hard-earned cash to hire a personal assistant. This could look like automating a transfer from your monthly income to your retirement fund as soon as your paycheck hits your bank account or placing your monthly bills on auto-pay so you never have to pay a late fee again.
Here are a few simple ways to leverage the power of automation in your daily life:
- Make sure everything “has a home.” This is especially important for objects you use daily, like your keys or wallet. This decreases the time spent in the morning searching for items and packing your bag.
- Meal prep once per week and store your meals in ready-to-go individual containers. It’s a lot easier to overcome a midday food craving if you have a healthy meal prepared beforehand.
- Shut off your phone when it’s time for work instead of spending your time trying to overcome the desire to check Instagram every 10 minutes.
- Create a master grocery list so you don’t waste time every week deciding what groceries you need to buy.
- Buy smaller plates to reduce the likelihood of overeating.
The point is, your time is precious so going the extra mile to find ways to simplify your life will make it easier to spend attention on the things that truly matter.
Take It A Step Further 💡: Creating an Implementation Intention Strategy
If you find yourself struggling to make the choices that align with your goals, write out an implementation intention strategy.
An implementation intention is a "if-then” productivity strategy that can help you tackle all of life’s little surprises and form habits that stick.
You can create a simple implementation intention using the format below:
"If ____, then I will ____"
Implementation intentions can be used to develop strategies in response to anticipated challenges associated with your goals.
- If it rains, then I’ll do a bodyweight exercise at home instead of going to the gym.
- If my roommate has guests over, then I’ll study at the coffee shop.
You get the idea.
It’s important to get as specific as possible in your implementation strategy including the where, when and how associated with your strategy. In the above examples, it would be advantageous for you to have a pre-selected workout video fired up on your laptop to follow along for your at-home session or the store hours for your favorite coffee shop somewhere handy.
What’s one implementation strategy you could put into use right now to help you reach your goals? 👇🏻👇🏼👇🏽👇🏾👇🏿