Week 8/2023: Atomic habits part 3

Week of 20 February 2023

Atomic Habits Part 3

After the drama of last weekend, I’d hoped that this week would be a bit quieter.

It was, but I felt like I was doing more thinking about what I wanted to get done and planning for it, setting things up and putting things in place, than actually doing anything. It’s a classic procrastination technique, designed to make you think you’re taking action because you’re still busy, even though you’re making zero progress.

Or so I’ve read.

A light orange sky over a low hill and water
A morning walk

I’ve been going over the rest of James Clear’s Atomic Habits exercises to see if there’s anything else I can do to cement my shoulder exercises into my routine.

As a quick recap, in lesson 4, we looked at making the cue for the habit part of your environment: that is, putting the thing where you will make the habit obvious. Put water bottles at places around the house you’re often in. Leave the book you’re reading on the chair you read in.

Put your hand weights next to the coffee machine.

In lesson 5, we looked at reducing friction to make it easy to do the habit. Apparently, humans’ motivation is to be lazy and do what is most convenient or easy. James suggests that you don’t want the habit itself; you want the outcome the habit delivers. I don’t want to do my shoulder exercises; I want my shoulder to get better.

He says the greater the obstacle, the more difficult the habit is and the more friction there is between you and your desired end state. This means you need to make your habits so easy you’ll do them even when you don’t feel like it. So for example, if I wanted to eat better lunches, I might batch cook a healthy lunch on the weekend. This way, all I have to do is heat the thing up, not think about what I’m going to have and make it (or go out and get something unhealthy).

I’ve been meaning to do this for ages.

But for my shoulder exercises, I don’t have any frictions, so I didn’t choose anything for this lesson.

Lesson 6 is about having everything ready to go, so when you walk into the space you can sit down and get to work. It’s another layer of setting up your environment, where you set up your space for the purpose you want to achieve.

Some examples are, if you want to read more, set up a comfortable reading space that you only use for reading. Make your work space just for work, clean it off at the end of the day and have everything nice and neat and exactly where you need it for when you start the next morning so you aren’t searching for the papers you need, or the laptop cable or the mouse . . .

A good example is closing down everything on your computer (and your three hundred open browser tabs) so you can open up the app you want to work in first and not have thousands of other things competing for your attention. You could also preschedule a Freedom session so you can’t go onto Facebook or Twitter and get distracted before you even start work.

These three ideas are all different layers of the same concept of setting your environment for success. You might only need one of them or you might need all of them, depending on the habit you’re trying to build.

With my shoulder exercises, all I need to do in terms of my environment is to put the tools where I need them so when the trigger happens (I go to turn the coffee machine on), I’ll do the exercise.

So far, it’s working well.

What do I want to do next week?

I want to continue working through Atomic Habits and Tranquility By Tuesday, and refine the planning on Friday habit.

I went to the physio on Monday and she told me that as well as doing the shoulder exercises, I should be doing some work with the massage ball to relieve some of the trigger points. So there’s another habit to work into my routine.

I also want to keep working through my Sydney photos and posting them on my photoblog.

Week 8 summary

What was good this week

I went to Andrew Wilson’s Custodian exhibition at the Henry Jones Art Hotel. Andrew has been Artist-in-Residence at the hotel this month. I know him best for his Old Sea Dogs series of books and portraits of people, boats and landscapes of Tasmania’s maritime history.

The exhibition was featured at the Wooden Boat Festival earlier in February. Each image is based on the theme of Custodianship, and Andrew has created them through applying digital composition techniques to his own photographs made around Tasmania.

A white gallery wall with a series of fourmaritime images
Andrew Wilson’s Custodian exhibition

There were ten artworks along with two panels of photos of people Andrew has photographed across his travels. Subjects were invited to make a note under their own photos of what they were custodian of. My favourite answer was “curiosity and curves”.

I loved these images. I especially loved “The Storm of Imaginings”, subtitled “Dreams while voyaging to gather stories”, which included elements from Bathurst Harbour, the River Derwent, Bruny Island and the Don Heads.

A white gallery wall with a series of maritime images
Custodian exhibition: The Storm of Imaginings

What I’m reading this week

  • The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean
  • Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson, Jospeh Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler
  • Atomic Habits by James Clear

    A hand holding a book, the cover featuring torn paper and the words The Book Eaters - Sunyi Dean
    The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean

Habit tracker

  • Morning ritual (Goal = 7): 6
  • Move (preferably before 3 pm) (Goal = 7): 7
  • Morning writing (Goal = 7): 0
  • The Little Red Writing Book exercises (Goal = 5): (0)
  • Listened to writing podcasts (Goal = 2): 0
  • All five physiotherapy exercises (Goal = 7): 6
  • Four exercises (Goal = 7): 6
  • Mental health break outside during my work days in the office (2 days): 2
  • Finish work by 5.30 (Goal = 5): 5
  • Shut my computer down before 9.15 (Goal = 6): 7
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