Habit XI

by zenquaker

The Chess tactics problems habit is still chugging along after last night. It’s now up to 12 days, 85 minutes, and 146 chess problems. However I’ve been rethinking the long term plan for further habits. The problem is that in the old plan the third habit was changing my sleep patterns. Changing your sleep patterns is something the teachers of the Habit Course consider a hard habit to change. They recommend that you make a few easy habit changes first before tackling the hard ones. Of course, I’ve already conquered the hard habits of quitting smoking and quitting drugs. But that wasn’t using their method, so I’m going to try and stick (generally) to their program.

So the old plan was:

  1. The habit of working on Chess after dinner.
  2. The habit of working on one of my projects after working on Chess.
  3. The habit of waking up earlier consistently.
  4. The habit of exercising after I meditate.

I realized there are a couple other habits that would either support the above habits or would be good in and of themselves.

First, I’ve been trying to eat an apple for breakfast. But I haven’t been very consistent about it, and I’m not doing it on weekends. I think the main problem is that I forget to put the apple in my bag before I head to work (I usually eat it during the three block walk from the metro station to my office building). So I think developing a habit of getting an apple after I do my morning ablutions would be good. Once I’ve got it, I can put it in my bag (week day) or eat it (weekend).

Second, working on Chess is going to give me a whole bunch of flashcards to study. Now, some of these flashcards I already had. However, I wasn’t studying them in the evenings when I was doing my other Chess work. I was studying them while waiting for the bus or the train on my commute (I have an app on my phone for studying flashcards). I want to start that up again as a habit.

Third, I should pay more attention to my cat, Fox (he doesn’t need a codename, but if he had one it would be Dark Spoon). One, it’s only fair to him considering how much time I leave him alone in the condo. Two, playing with him using the cat fisher or the laser pointer seems the best way to tone down his aggressive play. Fox is a little crazy, and frequently plays rough enough to draw blood. A couple weeks ago he jumped out at me from around a corner and gouged four two-to-four inch cuts down my leg.

Fourth, I may need to split the current Chess habit into two habits to get it to stick. The first part would be doing the tactics, and the second part would be studying some aspect of Chess. I’m hoping this won’t be necessary, but I want the plan to account for it.

So the new plan is:

  1. The habit of working on Chess after dinner.
  2. If necessary, the habit of working on Chess theory after working on Chess tactics.
  3. The habit of getting an apple every day after my morning ablutions.
  4. The habit of working on my flashcards while waiting during the commute.
  5. The habit of working on one my projects every day after working on Chess.
  6. The habit of playing with my cat after working on my project.
  7. The habit of waking up earlier consistently.
  8. The habit of exercising after I come home.

Again, some of these are things I’m trying to do currently. The idea is to solidify them and in some cases expand them using the Simple method. That’s seven or eight habits. The recommendation is four to six weeks working on a habit before moving on to the next one, and a week of planning before starting work on a habit. So this plan covers thirty-five to sixty-eight weeks. My guestimate is forty, on the assumption that I won’t need to split the current habit in two.

I’m not sure how data collection will work into this. Tomorrow I plan to start a one week test of personal data collection. Unless that goes really well, I would do another two to four week test before the end of the year. Those tests would inform doing a full year of data collection next year, starting on my birthday if I need some time before hand. I haven’t though of how to do the data collection under the Simple Method except as a reverse of using it to quit smoking. If we follow the theory of limited willpower, the combined change of the new habits and the data collection could overwhelm my willpower resources. If that is the case, the priority will be the habit changes and the data collection will be shifted to become step 9 of the plan (or more like steps 9 through 16).

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