Read Real Books!

source: Slowreads.com

Over the past few months, I’ve learned more and more about behavior. What drives us to do the things we do? How do I get someone to take a certain action?

The field of behavior design is growing. Leading companies are applying science to almost every design feature. LinkedIn is a great example – they perform all manner of tricks to get the users to provide more information.

Here’s one example: you get an email that shows who has viewed your profile -> you click to see the full list -> LinkedIn shows you where you rank among your connections -> LinkedIn offers tips to have you increase your profile views -> most of these tips involve adding more information to your profile -> LinkedIn is able to make money off of this information by selling premium services to recruiting and other professionals.

Behavior happens when three things come together: motivation, ability and a prompt. LinkedIn’s email serves as the prompt. The site makes it extremely easy to add information and LinkedIn motivates you by playing to our desire to be noticed.

So what am I doing with my understanding of behavior design? I’m moving a lot of my activities offline. One change is in how I read. I’m starting to read real books! (I’m also changing more of what I read, but that’s for another post). I used to think that my kindle app was provided for huge efficiency gains. I could read on any device. I could copy/paste text to a word doc with notes. I could listen to the audio version while driving.

These are all valid points. The connectivity of smart devices allowed me to do all these things. BUT, it also allowed for distractions that would take my attention away from reading. In addition, have you ever tried to highlight a passage and make notes on an e-book? Sure – there are features that allow for this behavior, but I find it much easier to do this with a real book.

If you’re interested in getting more out of your reading, I’d recommend you check out some of Ryan Holiday’s methods. He’s written a great blog post titled THE NOTECARD SYSTEM: THE KEY FOR REMEMBERING, ORGANIZING AND USING EVERYTHING YOU READ.

You are free to choose what devices you use, but know this – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc all employ some of the smartest people on the planet who are working tirelessly to keep you using their products. If you want less distractions, you should consider moving more of your work offline.

4 Tips for Creating Habits

Have you ever been jealous of highly productive people? I know I have. You think, “how does she get so much done?”

I’ve come to the conclusion that highly productive and effective individuals have better habits than the rest of us. They have many more good habits then bad habits. This got me thinking, “how do I create good habits?”

It turns out that creating habits is not all that difficult. If you want to go through a course and learn what I’ve learned, you should check out BJ Fogg’s tiny habits course. It’s well worth your time.

If you are interested in creating new habits, it’s important to keep some things in mind:

  1. It needs to be easy to do. For me, I’m not attempting to write 1,000 words a day, just 100. If you want to develop a habit of practicing the guitar daily, start with just 3 minutes of practice, not 30.
  2. It needs to be something you enjoy. It’s almost impossible to create a habit doing something that you hate doing. For example, it is going to be very difficult for me to create a habit of waking up at 5am.
  3. Find a trigger that will signal to you it’s time to perform the activity. Good triggers are things like, “after I open my laptop in the morning, I will…” or “after I use the restroom, I will…” or “after I finish breakfast, I will…” After a few days, you will get in the routine and recognize that after you perform (insert trigger) you need to (insert activity)
  4. Celebrate accomplishing your task. It can be as simple as a small fist pump, or saying “I’m awesome!” We know that habits are driven off of triggers and rewards. A fist pump or the pleasure you get from seeing a chain of “X”s on a calendar are good rewards.

So get started building some healthy habits – and share any habits you have made. In my next post, I’ll show how I used this to develop a habit of doing pull-ups. I’m now doing about 60 pull-ups a day – it works!

Tap, tap…

Tap, Tap…Is this thing on?

I was doing research on habits and I gained inspiration to start writing daily. Before you unsubscribe, I don’t think I’ll be posting daily, just writing daily.

James Clear runs a fantastic website on habits and behavior change. I came across a post of his regarding the Seinfeld principle, named after the comedian Jerry Seinfeld.

The basic idea is that Seinfeld practices his comedy every day by writing jokes. He keeps an enormous calendar on his wall and marks a red “X” for every day that he writes jokes. Quality doesn’t matter, it’s simply the act of writing the jokes that is important.

After a short time, Seinfeld strings together 7 or 8 days in a row and there’s momentum to keep going. He’s now motivated to see how long can he keep the chain going. There’s lots of science behind this habit change method and there are many helpful apps to get you started. One of my favorite, chains.cc, is below.

I’ll be doing more writing on habit creation and behavior. There are lots of exciting things happening in this area. For now, I’m over my goal of 100 words a day, so more to come…