Scheduling is a way of manipulating your environment so that your environment will then act on you in certain ways: you do something “because it is on the schedule”. I think this is a theme Rubin returns to later in the book.
There are quite a lot of good ideas in this chapter. Here are some of them:
ideas that I’ve started using
When scheduling a new habit, it helps to tie it to an existing habit … or an external cue … [rather] … than using a particular start time. (p. 76-7)
At work I have had a rule that I would do all admin — paying bills, logging bank statements, etc. — on a Friday afternoon. On a Friday afternoon I am a bit tired, I don’t want to be starting anything new, perfect for small relatively mindless tasks. However, come Friday afternoon, I am rarely in the mood for ploughing through a pile of receipts and statements — so the stuff doesn’t get done — until the molehills turn into mountains and bills are paid “just in time”.
My new idea is to deal with admin as soon as it arrives. I was thinking, “this is a case for *not* scheduling” but Rubin is cleverer: instead of scheduling to a time (Friday afternoon), it is sometimes better to schedule to an event (the post arriving).
Now, not only does the stuff get done but, as with the monitoring, the activity is qualitatively improved: my feeling for the company’s finances are much more immediate and intimate; and seeing to the task actually energises me (as it’s usually just one or two items at a time) rather than dragging me down.
“Quitting Time”: after Quitting Time I don’t check my email or social media, or do original writing. (p. 83)
This I honour “more in the breach than the observance” but it’s definitely an aim. I am quite good at not working late in the evening, but it is too easy to drift along on social media — and it is not at all relaxing.
ideas that I want to use
I schedule some slightly ridiculous habits, such as “Kiss Jamie every morning and every night.” (p. 74)
The more I think about this the less ridiculous it appears, and the more I want to emulate it. I kiss my wife a lot as it is (I am a very kissy person), so I’ll have to think of a way to “escalate” it without seeming weird. Another good target would be to touch my son every day.
I often find it harder to make myself do something that I enjoy than something that I don’t enjoy. (p. 82)
People who schedule playtime are more likely to tackle unappealing projects than people who never let themselves enjoy guilt-free fun until after their work is finished. (p. 83)
I tell myself that I don’t deserve nice things — there is no time, there is too much work to do, how can I enjoy myself when my wife is ironing/cooking/working? So enjoying myself is already encumbered with shame and secrecy … but there are things I enjoy doing that are not shameful and that don’t have to be secret. Some of these could even not inappropriately be scheduled into my work day.
to be continued …
Scheduling can also be used to restrict the time spent on an activity. (p. 85)
I’ll cover this in a separate post.
Quotes from the book
In the meantime, here is another half-dozen quotes from the book (I am trying to train myself to touchtype;):
Scheduling forces us to confront the natural limits of the day. (p. 75)
The desire to start something at the “right” time is usually just a justification for delay. In almost every case, the best time to start is now. (p. 77)
In many situations, we do benefit from scheduling a habit every day … I’ve found that it’s actually easier to do something every day than some days. (p. 79-80)
While we often overestimate what we can accomplish in the short term, we often underestimate what we can accomplish in the long term if we work consistently. (p. 84)
Something that can be done at any time is often done at no time. (p. 85)
The goal is to develop habits that allow us to have time for everything we value, in a way that is sustainable forever. (p. 89)