A pandemic, lockdowns, social distancing, and general anxiety upended my established routines. Tied to my regular morning, afternoon, or evening schedules were many of my good habits. I didn’t think about them because they worked on autopilot. Everyday events created the desired activity—fix dinner, clean the kitchen, and pack the next day’s healthy lunch. At lunchtime, my brown bag reminded me to fill my water bottle and hydrate. The sudden switch to working from home broke my daily patterns, and chaos ensued. I needed to reinstate my lost habits.
Researchers tell us the simplest way to form new habits is to structure our environment to make the desired choice likely and the poor choice more difficult. I made it my mission to reorganize my life. It was not an easy project. There were false starts, missteps, blunders, and total failures to navigate before I found success.
I also stumbled onto a habit-tracker. It is a low-tech grid with the tasks on one axis and the days on the other. At first, I thought the idea of putting a star next to each completed job was rather childish, but I had nothing to lose. The habit tracker prompts my OCD impulse to want each box filled with colorful stickers. On another level, it forces me to be honest. We, humans, tend to believe we act better than we do. Of course, I took my medicine every day. Didn’t I? It’s hard to fudge the data when it is staring you in the face.
I track twelve chores. A few were habits that had gotten lost in the shuffle, while others were things I always wanted to do. The first month was rough, and there were lots of blank squares. I realized changes don’t happen overnight, and I kept plugging along. I’m still not perfect, but I see progress, and that is okay for today.
Have you used a habit tracker?
Keep on writing.
Jo Hawk The Writer