Just one year back, I was struggling to find enough time in a day. I wanted to run more, read more books, work on a hobby project etc but always felt that there wasn’t enough time in a day. Then, I read the book Atomic habits about which I blogged last year. The book by James Clear set me on a journey. Whether I should commend the book or myself, I do not know. Because, the results are great. And it can work for you too. Here is a report of my time / habit management story so far.
How my phone, an enemy of the past is now my friend
I didn’t realize before but the phone used up a lot of my time. I thought I was immune because I had quit most social media. But information flows in via news sites, youtube videos, netflix etc and the dopamine effect ensured that I was hooked to the phone without even realizing. Putting time limits didn’t help as I would end up getting some other information. The solution that actually worked was to get dopamine out of my own deeds instead of from information.
With the streaks app on my iphone, I have a set of things to do. Some are daily targets, some are weekly targets and some are monthly targets. I do not intend to finish everything every day so as not to stress out myself. However, every task finished gives a dopamine shot and that keeps me away from spending 6 minutes on youtube. The widget is the first thing I see when I unlock my phone and as a result, everything else has a lower priority.
How I don’t worry about missing a day
Initially, it did feel bad when I missed a day or two of a certain habit. But once the habit became a part of my system, they took control of me and less days were missed. I make use of the technique of habit stacking. For example, I read a book every day along with breakfast. Since I do not miss the former, I rarely miss the latter. Even if I do, I don’t care because the overall completion percentage is quite high.
What about bad habits
Initially, I set targets to decrease screen time. But eventually, I found that the way to decrease bad habits was to fill time with good habits so that bad habits did not get a chance.
How do the results look
- Learnt Rust, concepts of Deep learning etc
- Running: 4 official half marathons and ~90 Km/month average for the last 6 months of 2022
- Books: 7 books in as many months
- Workout: 67% completion rate
- Learning Dutch: Minimum 20 minutes every day, 66% of the days
How full is my schedule
It is really counter intuitive but I feel that I still have time left in a day. Once I brought structure into my habits, set systems to manage them and started tracking them, I could see that time was never the problem. And now, the question is not about filling in more things inside the available time but to prioritize what I really want out of a day. Some habits need to go out, not because of lack of time but to increase focus on others. And that will be another post.