Gretchen Rubin

Video: For Habits, the Strategy of Convenience.

I’m doing a video series in which I discuss the various strategies that we can use for habit-formation.

Habits are the invisible architecture of everyday life, and a significant element of happiness. If we have habits that work for us, we’re much more likely to be happy, healthy, productive, and creative. My forthcoming book, Better Than Before, describes the multiple strategies we can exploit to change our habits. To hear when it goes on sale, sign up here.

Today, I’m talking about the Strategy of Convenience. This is one of the most powerful, straightforward, and popular strategies of habit change.

People often ask me, “What surprises you most about habits?” One thing that continually astonishes me is the degree to which we’re influenced by sheer convenience. The amount of effort, time, or decision making required by an action has a huge influence on habit formation. To a truly remarkable extent, we’re more likely to do something if it’s convenient, and less likely if it’s not. For instance, here are 8 reasons why convenience can interfere with exercise.

 

We should pay close attention to the convenience of any activity we want to make into a habit. Putting a wastebasket next to our front door made mail sorting slightly more convenient, and I stopped procrastinating with this chore. Many people report that they do a much better job of forming the habit of staying close to distant family members now that tools like Facebook, Skype, FaceTime, and group chats make it easy to stay in touch.

It's a Secret of Adulthood for Habits: Make it easy to go right, and hard to go wrong.

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