"Women can tell you how many degrees (Fahrenheit and Celsius, to say nothing of Kelvin) it was outside." -Optimistic. on first kisses
Question #92220 posted on 05/15/2019 9 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

How do you form new habits? I have a hard time doing the typical, average daily tasks 100% of the time such as brushing my teeth, reading scriptures, combing my long hair, etc. I'll do most of them most of the time, but rarely any one thing for more than a few days in a row. I've tried just about everything - rewards, tracking apps, restricting my reading if I don't reach a goal, etc. I'm looking for new ideas - something that will overcome the stumbling block of a poor, exhausted, sleep deprived brain that hardly has the energy to think about everything it has to do. I tried looking up an app to earn money for habits (I use achievement for food and exercise tracking), but the only ones I found will fine you for missing a habit, without paying you for reaching a goal.

So what are some ways you find successful for helping to overcome the worst drained-energy days and stick to your habits/goals?

-Miss Frazzled

A:

Dear The Frizz,

We are in the same boat. I have a terrible time of forming habits, I'm often frazzled, and I lose track of things like no one's business. I get where you're coming from. It's terribly frustrating trying to form good habits and coming up short repeatedly. I think forming habits is hard for everyone so don't get discouraged. I can't tell you what will work for you, but I can tell you what works for me and hopefully there will be some overlap.

  1. Structure: My success of the semester was actually exercising semi-regularly! I signed up for an intramural soccer team, and started going to community aerobics classes in the RB. I don't have the self-discipline to create my own structure, but I do a decent job of fitting into an external structure. There are several different ways to incorporate structure: scripture study groups, exercise classes, if you don't live alone you can go through your daily routine with someone else. 
  2. Recruit a Friend: Much of my success incorporating new habits comes from the support of friends. I had friends on my soccer team and in the aerobics classes that helped me stick with it. Last year I used to lose my keys and wallet all the time. It was so bad I even parked my car and forgot where I parked it for two weeks. I recruited the help of my cousin Auto Surf to help me remember things and she texted me every night for a few weeks to remind me about my car and car keys and it really helped. Get a friend or family member to help you. I'm sure they'll be happy to support you and help you meet your goals.
  3. Simplify Decision Making: Reducing the number of things I have to keep track of helps me keep track of things like new habits. At night I like to shower, lay out my clothes for the next day, pack my lunch and prepare my breakfast. That way in the morning I have less to do and can focus on stuff better.

Also, don't hate me for saying this, but it might be useful to do less. I always hate it when people point out that most of my problems come from over-scheduling myself, but its good advice. Sometimes you can't do less, like when you're a parent, or a college student near finals. If that's you, disregard this, but trying to do less might be helpful. 

Anyways, hopefully some of this helps you! It can be hard to start new habits, but the most important thing is to keep trying.If things don't work out at first don't stress out about it. You've got this! Good luck with your new habits! 

Peace,

Tipperary

A:

Dear Razzles, 

Perhaps this is an unpopular opinion or not the answer you were looking for... but I think if you're doing most of your goals most of the time, you shouldn't be too concerned about being perfect at it. I mean, you're already ahead of a lot of people. It's pretty much impossible (or at least, is atypical) for someone to be able to perfectly follow a schedule every day. 

I also think it helps to limit how many goals you're working on at any given time. Forming new habits is awesome, and I commend you for wanting to. But if you are already trying to do one other habit, it's not a great idea to try to pick up 3 more at the same time. That tends to lead to having lots of projects started, but none ever finished. 

If I had advice, I would say to take things one (or maybe two) at a time and work on them until you feel you have them really built into your schedule, then try to tackle new ones. On top of that, don't get so stingy about it that missing a day or two constitutes failure. If you're at least trying, you're really doing better than you give yourself credit for. 

Cheers, 

Guesthouse

posted on 05/15/2019 9:41 p.m.
I hope this correction gets approved, because I recently read a book that has helped me tremendously when it comes to developing habits. It's "Atomic Habits" by James Clear, and it has a lot of practical methods for creating habits (including one of my favorites, habit-stacking) and goes into many of the psychological processes that determine whether or not we form habits. I highly recommend it!
posted on 05/16/2019 7:17 p.m.
If you are struggling with regularly performing basic hygiene tasks like brushing your teeth or hair, it may also be worth talking to a mental health professional to see if you're doing OK or if they can help. One sure sign that my depression is spiraling is that I can't get up the motivation to brush my teeth or shower or wash my face on a daily basis.
posted on 05/16/2019 7:17 p.m.
It's worth noting that many adults with undiscovered and untreated ADD/ADHD often struggle with remembering to do certain types of mundane, everyday tasks because their brain chemistry is literally not motivated enough to keep track of them. Tipperary's answer contains strategies that many adults with ADHD actually use to keep track of their habits better.

Depending on how much this particular situation bothers you/if it's getting in the way of your life, it might be worth doing some research on this topic and looking into getting a screening done.