Sunday, February 4, 2018

Habits - Entry 3 - Scaling back when needed


If you have found my articles interesting enough You may have tried to look at the other items I have written for this Blog and quickly found out that there are some significant gaps between articles.

How can this be? You might ask - isn't this the guy that writes about habits and task list and other things that should keep me on track churning out copy every week? And you would be correct to ask that question.

Hopefully, this will be a good segue into one of the most significant habit lessons I have learned:

How to scale back when life adds pressure to your time and energy resources

The answer is not complicated to figure out Evaluate, Prioritize, Execute.  But it is essential to go through the process.


The "Getting Things Done" crowd will be familiar with the weekly review.  This is where I often do my evaluation.  As I go through this process I usually try to sort my habits into groups:

  • Professional habits
  • Health habits
  • Mental habits
  • Social habits

and classify each habit within the group as

  • Positive -Foundation
  • Positive - Working
  • Negative - Foundation
  • Negative - Working
With this philosophy, I can sort the current habits (good and bad) into one of 16 groups.

It is critical that you are honest with your self as you build this list.  It may be easier if you use a habit app like Todoist, so you already know what habits you are tracking.  It may also be useful to listen to others to determine what habits you have that you don't even know about.

The major groups -Professional, Health, Mental, and Social - are not to hard to make out, but there are some clarifications I would like to put out there.  First, I use all four groups because they seem to balance out well.  One works well with the other three.  If you don't work on your Health, you won't have the energy for Social, Profesional, or Mental habits.  If you are not improving your Metal capabilities, you will be left behind in Social groups, passed up in your Professional life, and may execute your Helth strategies all wrong.  I could go on to all four, but I think you get the picture.

As for the sub-categories, they are just the realization that we have positive and negative habits, and we have habits that support all that we do (Foundation), and practices that we are working on (Working).  Some may call Foundation habits "Keystone habits".  These are habits that either allow other habits to be more beneficial or enable other habits to be formed.  For example, the Profesional habit of "getting up at 5:00 AM" provides the time for the Health habits of "working out" or "meditating."  Due to this even if I have to stop working out or meditating I might keep getting up at 5:00 AM for the many other benefits.


Though this process is going to be based on your own needs, it should be as simple as ranking your habits in most to least significant. Then, based on your time and energy budget, determining which practices you can keep, which you will do less frequently, and which you will 'let go' for the time being.

Due to an increase in opportunities at work at the end of 2017 I had to go deep into this process.  I found it easiest to drop most of the habits that were in a "working" group, both positive and negative. I had to be very careful with what I chose to keep.  Too much and I would not be able to get the work done to take advantage of the opportunities.  Too little and I would cause myself to burn out, unable to sustain the work pace and quality needs.

It was clear many of the things I would keep.  From Health - Diet, and Excercise.  From Social - My weekly ballroom dance get-together. This allowed me to keep both my wife and my friends happy.  Mental - I halved my reading load but increased the amount of fiction I was reading.  This was enough to keep me from feeling like I had abandoned my mind, by not stopping my reading, while giving me additional distractions to allow my mind to reset, by reading more fiction than I normally would.  As the goal was to take advantage of a Professional opportunity I dropped the least here - really only my working habit of improving my handwriting and working on adding "Sketchnoting" skills. I type all day so these are a vanity habits.


By far the easiest part to say had hardest to do.  You have to allow the things you said you will not work on this week to go by the wayside, you can work on them when your energy allows.  You have to stay disciplined in ensuring you perform all of the habits you said you would keep.

But it is not all discipline and sacrifice.  Hopefully, you will have marked your weekly review as a Profesional Postive Foundation Habit and will have chosen to keep it.  This means that in only a few days you can Evaluate and Prioritize again. Giving you the ability to adjust each week as demands change.


As I the challenges I accepted are coming to a close I am taking the habits I put on hold, such as writing in this blog, and adding them back into my weekly lists.  By ensuring that I kept the most important habits, I have come to the end of this opportunity with better health, a good mental feel, little to no damage to my social standing, and the professional respect of my company and coworkers.

No comments:

Post a Comment