Forming Record Keeping as a Habit

Lydia wants to start record keeping in order to cement her habits. She’s been trying to keep up with a habit by skipping over the recording, and she’s admitted that it doesn’t really work well for her.

When I started this project for real (the third time), I decided that I was going to begin only with record keeping. In my mind, forming a habit of recording habits is the trunk and roots of a tree of skills. And though it seems tedious to JUST do that, it’s the process that, when properly cemented, is where all other branches of the tree arise.

But Lydia’s hesitancy is understandable. I don’t want to advise people to sit there for 2 months doing nothing but recording nothing…just recording the process of recording. It makes sense theoretically - record keeping is something that takes very little time but is often overlooked - like most quality habits. Flossing, doing crunches, etc take very little time, but over time are dropped. Even the researchers have problems getting their test subjects to take the SRHI regularly.

As we were talking I further backed up forming the record keeping habit slowly. There is a maddening tendency while doing it - you have so much willpower right NOW, but you feel like you’re doing nothing. The problem is that willpower really doesn’t matter. Going to the gym once and having a fantastic focused workout doesn’t matter at all if it’s not extended for a long time. Endurance is the key to lasting change.

The other argument is that once it’s developed it’s yours presumably for life. So yeah you might take 2 months to develop it, but isn’t that worth it if you’re going to resting other habits on top of it? Isn’t it worth it if it’s cemented forever?

Despite all this, it still doesn’t sit well with me, especially when it comes to giving advice. “First, go record recording for 2 months” just doesn’t fly off the tongue. I can hear people just ignoring this first step anyway - god knows I would if I heard that a few years ago. Is there any way to compress two habits - one of recording and another habit - so that it at least feels like you’re doing something in the beginning?

I’m all for adding two habits at once if they’re both tiny - the endurance threshold lowers so it’s easier to keep it up to make them both habits. Lydia suggested automating the recording process. A lot of what takes time is adding up all the scores - what if it was all automated?

That level of programming knowledge, though basic, just happens to be far more advanced than what I can accomplish.  Lydia is working on a simple spreadsheet that will tally scores.

But what if you could go further? Say a click-able list of questions that tallies your score and automatically records it onto a spreadsheet with all your habits with a date stamp. And the date keeps rolling - so if you don’t do the questionnaire it continues to mark it as an absence - oddly enough a big problem I’ve had is counting and making sure my missed days are accounted for. I often get quite confused trying to straighten out my numerical mess ups.

If you could have a streamlined system like this I believe the habit would be successfully “tiny-fied” - and adding it together with something like doing two pushups a day would be feasible. And furthermore, it would be palatable as an overall program for general self improvement.