Creating New Routines and Turning Them Into Habits

Creating New Routines and Turning Them Into Habits

Do you find routines difficult to stick to?

Whilst I'm quite organised I don't find routines easy to stick to.  The main reason is that I forget to do it.  It's fascinating because we all have routines that we do daily such as brushing our teeth, taking a shower, getting dressed etc. and we don't forget to do these things.  So why are some routines easier to stick to than others?  

I embarked on a bit of research and came across 'How to Break Habits' by Charles Duhigg.  Well, I don't want to break a habit, I want to create a habit but the interesting thing about this is by unpicking what a habit is in order to change it, we can use the opposite to create it. 

According to Duhigg it's all about habit forming and a habit is caused by a trigger or cue that makes us want to do something.  He says a cue can be a location, a time of day, an emotional state, other people, or a pattern of behaviour that consistently triggers a certain routine.  The final part of the habit loop is the reward, which is the most important part.  We only do the habit in order to get the reward.  Studies have shown that you can change your routines and habits in whichever way you want.  Duhigg has a short video to explain this loop. 

So how can we create new routines (or habits) that will help us to keep our home in order?  Firstly, we need an appropriate cue and we need a reward that's going to make it worthwhile.  I wanted to create a daily routine for loading and unloading the dishwasher and keeping my kitchen clean and tidy.  So my cue is the end of my evening meal.  When I get up from the table, I go into the kitchen load the dishwasher, wash any pans that won't fit, wipe down the kitchen and then it's done for the evening.   My reward is seeing a nice tidy and clean kitchen.  However, I needed a second cue to unload the dishwasher.  For me this is after watching my favourite soap on the TV because I don't want to do it late in the evening and don't have time in the mornings.

Do you have a routine that you would like to create?  Try these simple steps:

1.  Set a cue that will remind you to do the activity or job.

2.  Do it at the time when you are supposed to do it; don't put it off.

3.  Reward yourself.  It's important not to forget the reward as this is the reason why you are doing it in the first place. 

Jane Fern