Reading notes of Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break from Bad Ones, by James Clear.
This book introduces a framework for habit forming. Many approaches/tricks are highly practical and easy to follow.
A Four-Step Model of Human Behavior
The process of building a habit can be divided into the following four steps: cue, craving, response and reward.
The cue triggers a craving, which motivates a response, which provides a reward, which satisfies the cravings and, ultimately, becomes associated with the cue. If a behavior is insufficient in any of the four stages, it will not become a habit.
Therefore, to form a new good habit or to break an old bad habit, we must work on all four steps:
|Make a good habit||obvious||attractive||easy||satisfying|
|Make a bad habit||invisible||unattractive||difficult||unsatisfying|
Make It Obvious
- Use implementation intentions: “I will [do something] at [some time] in [somewhere]”.
- Commit to daily writing hours at a specific time and location.
- Use habit stacking: “After a current habit, I will do some new habit”.
- After my morning routine, I’ll spend at least an hour writing.
- After my noon nap, I’ll do 10 pushups.
- Design your environment. Make the cues of good habits obvious and visible.
- Charge my phone at a power outlet far away from my work desk.
- Tidy-up my working environment so that I can focus solely on the task at hand.
Make It Attractive
- Use temptation bundling. Pair an action you want to do with an action you need to do.
- I’ll watch my favorite TV episodes when walking on the treadmill.
- Join/Create a culture where the desired behavior is the norm.
- (The close:) Make a living schedule together with my partner and stick to it.
- (The many:) Create a team culture that values efficient collaboration and communications during working hours.
- (The powerful).
- Create a motivation ritual. Do something you enjoy immediately before a difficult habit.
- Make a cup of tea/coffee before starting my work for the day.
Make It Easy
- Reduce friction. Decrease the number of steps between you and your good habits.
- Create (keyboard) shortcuts on my laptop that directly link to the current project.
- Remove shortcut links to websites that may negatively impact work efficiency.
- Prime your environment to make future actions easier.
- Put exercise clothing at the entrance of the apartment door. Put them on right after getting back from work.
- Harness the decisive moment. Optimize the small choices that decides whether your day is productive or not.
- When having the temptation to do something unproductive, think twice about workday productivity.
- Use the Two-Minute Rule. Downscale your habits until they can be done in two minutes or less.
- Commit to exercise at least 2 minutes per day.
- Commit to do 30 pushups a day.
- Automate your habits. Invest in technology and onetime purchases that lock in future behavior.
- Design a personal productivity system and using an app to track its progress. Review and adjust the system regularly.
- Use browser plugins to block distractive websites.
- Do not hesitate to buy something that can boost productivity.
Make It Satisfying
- Use reinforcement. Give yourself an immediate reward (rather than delayed reward) when you complete your habit.
- After working for a productive day, watch some enjoyable videos/TV episodes/movies.
- Use an App to-do list. Check the item on the to-do list right after a positive behavior.
- Never miss a habit twice in a row.
Notes & Excerpts
Why Tiny Changes Make a Big Difference
- Your outcomes are a lagging measure of your habits. You get what you repeat.
That’s how knowledge works. It builds up like compound interest.” — Warren Buffett.
- In order to make a meaningful difference, habits need to persist long enough to break through this plateau—the Plateau of Latent Potential.
- Forget about setting goals. Focus on the system instead.
- Three level of changes: outcome, process, and identity. The most effective way to change a behavior is to focus on what you wish to become. Becoming the best version of yourself requires you to continuously edit your beliefs, and to upgrade and expand your identity.
- The ultimate purpose of habits is to solve the problems of life with as little energy and effort as possible.
- Once our habits become automatic, we stop paying attention to what we are doing.
- the process of behavior change always starts with awareness. You must be aware of the habits before you can change them.
- Every habit is initiated by a cue. We are more likely to notice cues that stand out.
- Gradually, your habits become associated with the entire context surrounding the behavior. The context becomes the cue.
- Spend less time in tempting situations. It is easier to avoid tempations than resist it.
- It is the anticipation of a reward—not the fulfillment of it—that gets us to take action. The greater the anticipation, the greater the dopamine spike.
- Every behavior has a surface level craving and a deeper underlying motive.
- Walk slowly, but never backward.
- Focus on taking action, not being in motion.
- The amount of time < the number of times you perform a habit.
- The Law of Least Effort: we will natually gravitate toward the option that requires the least amount of work. Our real motivation is to be lazy and to do what is convenient.
- The idea is to make a habit as easy as possible in the moment to do things that payoff in the long run.
- Standardize before you optimize. You cannot improve a habit that does not exist.
- The Cardinal Rule of Behavior Change: What is immediately rewarded is repeated. What is immediately punished is avoided.
- One of the most satisfying feelings is the feeling of making progress.
- Knowing that someone else is watching you can be a powerful motivator.
- Play a game that favors your strengths. Create a game if it does not exist.
- Genes do not eliminate the need for hard work. They clarify it. They tell us what to work hard on.
- The Goldilocks Rule states that humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities.
- It is the ability to keep going when work isn’t exciting that makes the difference.
- Professionals stick to the schedule; amateurs let life get in the way.
- Habits + Deliberate Practice = Mastery
- Reflection and review is a process that allows you to remain conscious of your performance over time.
- Shape and update your personal identity regularly.