Having Ten+ Habits: The Long-Term Game
Episode #10 of the course Multihabit: A radical new approach to habit-tracking by John Robin
Welcome to our final lesson!
So far, we’ve worked on how to manage 9+ habits, including sleep and other parts of life that you might never have considered.
To close this course, we’re going to fast-forward and see how each person in our group discovered something over the longer term of tracking their habits.
John’s Lesson: Habit Evolution
One thing I found as I continued to track my time with this single-focused, multiple-habit approach, was that instead of getting rigid and locked into a set of habits, I actually became more open to spontaneity and change.
I realized this when I discovered my “garden” habit.
After years of being self-employed, I always felt like I was stuck inside my house or at a coffee shop, behind a computer or a book. My piano habit helped break this up a bit, but I was still missing the outdoors and fresh air.
I created a “garden” habit initially as part of “self-improvement”, but within 1 year of doing that, I got interested in planting food. The first year, it was just a squash vine and some potatoes. The next year, it was beets, onions, enough squash to fill my yard, 100 potatoes, and many other vegetables. By year 3, my husband came on board and started getting into canning and we formulated a marketing plan for the garden.
Now, I have moved my “garden” habit to professional habits and it has forever changed me.
But the new business angle was not the interesting part for me. Yes, the diversified revenue stream is great. However, it was how this changed my other work that was truly valuable. I started to feel even more recharged whenever I was working with a manuscript. I rarely, if ever, had writer’s block, or the similar editor’s block that sometimes comes from working on a difficult book.
Many times, in the hours spent in my garden, I would do most of my writing and editing work in my head. This was a new discovery for me. I have heard many writers speak of it, how your “writing brain” is never truly off. Well, I discovered that about myself in the garden.
This flexible approach has encouraged me to keep learning about myself using this system.
Mary’s Lesson: Habit Variation
Mary enjoyed that this system let her track anything she wanted to define as a habit, for however long she wanted.
Over the long term of using this system, Mary sometimes decided to use it to find out how long she took to do something that felt overwhelming. Almost every time, after tracking it for a while and seeing exactly how it added up, she would stop tracking the habit but no longer have anxiety over the habit, since she knew how much of her time it took.
She really enjoyed that there was no forced aspect, pushing her to track a certain percent of her time. There was no penalty for dropping a habit. The only percent she liked to track regularly was her Pareto 20%.
Mary kept up her writing and her exercise. She even tracked sleep briefly. After a few months, she discovered she sleeps about 7 hours every night.
What Mary discovered was the power of habit variation. There is no need to compulsively track every habit all the time.
This was what Mary loved the most about this system!
Susan’s Lesson: Habit Pivots
Susan soon graduated from university and found, after this, many of her habits no longer had meaning. Soon she was working a full-time job as a manager at an advertising business, exactly what she’d gone to school for.
But Susan really enjoyed the Multihabit system. She wanted to keep using it because it taught her so much about how to manage her time.
Susan was making a habit pivot around her new life circumstances.
First and foremost, Susan thought of the Pareto principle for her professional habits. She created new habits to measure her work day: “meetings”, “projects”, “supervising”, “organizing”, and “to-do”.
Susan enjoyed how the percentage breakdown on each of these habits showed her how her work day stacked up. For example, her “to-do” habit was getting too big, so she decided to apply top-bounding. Though it meant not getting everything done, this taught her to delegate more and try to automate lots of the wasted email time that tended to make her “to-do” list fill up.
Joe’s Story: Habit Stratification
Joe’s progression demonstrated the versatility of this system.
Over time, Joe found his “practice” habit broke down into components:
• Concert prep practice
• Encore piece practice
• New longer piece practice
• Sight read new pieces
When it was time to switch the “practice” timer on, Joe was able to develop a well-rounded and flexible approach. For example, instead of just forcing himself to “practice” for 3 hours, he would work through his practice habit strata like a check-list. It was carved up into smaller periods of 20-40 minutes that let him shift his attention.
Unlike Susan and the rest of us in the group, Joe found he could stay focused on practice for longer than the 80-100-minute ultradian limit. However, Joe realized the reason for this was his habit stratification.
If he’d just set a goal of “practice” for 3 hours, he would have no natural break points. But because each strata created a natural breaking point, when he would complete a given strata, he would usually get up to get a drink of water, or go to the bathroom, then dive right back into the next strata of his “practice” habit.
Rod’s Lesson: The Pareto Habit Perspective
Because of the Pareto habit perspective he’d gained when he defined his Pareto habits, Rod had a goal to cut his day job down to half-time. Fast-forwarding, he achieved this goal! With the agreement of his boss, he made gradual reductions in his job hours until he was working half-time. This allowed him to reduce the total time on his professional habits to 20%.
As soon as he made this change, he noticed that he had more time to spend on his leisure and self-improvement habits, and his life felt so much more balanced!
The important lesson Rod learned has to do with what “Pareto 20% threshold” actually means.
The point of the Pareto threshold is so that, after you are sure you’re spending 20% of your time on what gets you 80% of your results, you have now 80% of your time free to do whatever you want.
And That’s a Wrap for This Course!
Whatever extent of routine you develop in how you approach your habits, most important of all is that you let this itself become a habit, and you will be well on your way to the kind of self-mastery that is also lots of fun!
I love hearing from my students. If you have any requests for future courses, or questions about this one, please let me know. Many of my best course ideas have come from email conversations with students!
Reach out to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Full Habit Tracking • 2 Months • Group of 5 (With Setup Instructions) (See first tab for instructions)
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