From the moment we get out of bed, we are constantly making decisions throughout the day.
Try to recall how you started the day in the morning: did you have trouble deciding which outfit to pick? What to eat? How many sugar cubes to put into your coffee? Small decisions like these can suck mental energy out of us. They are simply unnecessary, which is why we shouldn’t waste time on them.
We all have limited willpower and every decision we make is using up our willpower.
When we have too many decisions to make every day, it can be very overwhelming. Instead of wasting our willpower on the trivial things, we should be focusing on the more important and fun things in life; and a routine allows us to do exactly that.
Instead of training yourself to make decisions faster, get rid of unnecessary decisions by building a routine.
Having a routine means doing the same set of things over and over without consciously thinking about it. No decision-making is required. That’s the beauty of a routine—it saves us mental energy.
Now that we have fewer decisions to make, we are less likely to get tired. This can actually be explained, and Kahneman does this very well in his book, Thinking, Fast and Slow.
Kahneman suggests that we have 2 modes of thinking:
System 1 is the faster mode; and System 2 is the slower mode. System 1 is faster because it is “automatic” and “intuitive”. It builds habits and speeds up reactions for us.
Which is to say, having a routine allows us to think less when we’ve trained our brain to think with system 1, helping us to save time and energy.
So if you want to get through your day more efficiently, you should work on forming a routine.
To start forming a routine, begin with something small, so small that you can’t say no.
Author and entrepreneur James Clear introduced a strategy guide for forming a routine which is very useful for all of us. He suggests to start small when it comes to building a habit and here’re the things you can kickstart doing:.
1. Pick a small thing to fit into your daily life.
Starting something new can be hard, especially if you are the kind who struggles with staying motivated and sticking to something.
Starting with something very easy can be helpful because our motivation is not stable over time, and your goal here is to set yourself up for success in the long run.
Pick something that doesn’t require motivation and make it easy for yourself at first.
For example, I’ve always wanted to drink more water. So in order to make my first step easy, I’ll just put a big mug of water on my work desk so I’ll always be reminded to drink it even when I’m working.
2. Increase its difficulty gradually.
You might be worrying about not being able to make progress with a small start. But the truth is, you will get better at doing the same action over time.
Small improvements can add up, and you will be ready for something bigger eventually — just think of it as a training for your willpower and motivation.
3. Break your daily goal into reasonable sessions.
In order for the first two steps to work, you can try breaking down a task to make it easier. Achieving goals, even small ones in the beginning, encourages you to keep going with your routine.
Again take my example of drinking more water, I increase the difficulty level by measuring the times I refill my mug. The first week, I only need to refill my mug once a day; then the second week, I’ll add it to two times a day etc.
4. Keep track of your daily progress and have an overview of it.
Sticking to a routine is difficult, which is why it’s a great idea to remind yourself of how far you’ve come in order to motivate yourself.
I have downloaded an app about water consumption every day, it’s basically a log about how much water I drink every day and it’s really helpful for me to keep track of my progress.
If there’s no apps available for you to keep track of your progress, you can just make use of journal spreadsheet to know how you do all the way.
Trust that if you keep making a little progress every single day, you will find it easier and easier to stay on track.
5. Stick to your pace and be patient about the results.
Since building a routine takes time for you to get used to, you really want to progress at a comfortable pace and not rush it. If you push yourself too hard too soon, you are more likely to give up. Allowing yourself enough time to improve bit by bit is key to success.
Forming a routine can be tricky, but it’s achievable. Start today, set a goal, and work your way up. Eventually, you’ll be able to take your mind off of what’s trivial and focus on what’s really important—also, you’ll be saving so much time in the process.
|||^||Josh Vickerson: The Secret Weapon for Success in School and Life|
|||^||Big Think: Kahneman’s Mind-Clarifying Strangers: System 1 & System 2|
|||^||James Clear: How to Build a New Habit: This is Your Strategy Guide|