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New habits and useful landmines

Installing a new habit and breaking an old one

This article's advice on “installing” a new habit is really quite good, but it's also useful just for its inspiring examples of what Danny and I have called “useful landmines”-pre-emptive ways to make failure in a given situation as difficult as possible. A few I especially liked:

You want to start carrying a bit of cash and not using your credit card.
Make it hard to do. Freeze your credit card in a block of ice.
You want to walk the stairs at work but keep taking the elevator.
Make it hard not to do. Tell everyone at work and ask them to say 'booooo' to you if they see you in the lift. Don't worry they won't ever have to be embarrassed to say it, because you won't get in the lift if you did.
You want to move more, your [sic] annoyed at your inactivity.
Make it easier to do. Take your TV remote to work and leave it there.
You want the habit of waking up 20 minutes earlier but keep pushing the alarm snooze.
Make it hard to stay in bed. Move the alarm, set the lights on a timer, set the TV on a timer.

As with things like The Forehead Ticket Trick, I know a lot of folks find it easy to laugh this stuff off and think it's all sort of dopey for such theoretically sophisticated customers like you and me to spend time on (“Just do it,” says the ambitious poster). But, personally, I'm attracted to any idea that takes a burden off of my mind and puts it squarely back into the physical world.

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TOPICS: Life Hacks, Tips
Keith in Tokyo's picture

At age 15, with a...

At age 15, with a morning paper route and extracurricular activities that kept me in a state of permanent exhaustion, my morning (pre-dawn) wake-up procedure included the following:

  1. Boom box (10-inch speakers, sonic devastation) on full volume, with "Play" button pressed
  2. Lamp timer (typically used to turn lights on and off when on vacation, etc.)
  3. Chairs from the kitchen
  4. French Horn case
  5. Music stand
  6. Other furniture

I would plug the lamp timer into the electrical outlet, then plug the boom box into the lamp timer. The lamp timer would be set to the target wake time. Then I would stack the kitchen chairs and other furniture on top of one another, put the music stand and the French Horn case near them, and put the whole thing between my bed and the boom box.

When the boom box turned on at the appointed hour, it would scream at full volume and risk awaking not only my parents and brother, but the entire neighborhood as well. So I instantly shot out of my bed, desperate to shut it off. The kitchen chairs, music stand, and French Horn case naturally got in my way, and so I would dive right through them on my trajectory toward the boom box's "stop" button. I generally wound up lying amongst a pile of overturned furniture, bruised, scraped, panting, naked, and sometimes even bleeding -- but always very much awake. My first life hack.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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