Entries from August 2012 ↓

the power of logging

In his recent book The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg explains that when people seem to have incredible willpower and discipline what we are actually seeing is the result of powerful mental habits that have been built up over a number of years. Instead of summoning superhuman mental focus in a flash, the people that we look up to actually build their focus and discipline in small steps over a long period of time.

But what surprises most of Duhigg’s readers is that anyone can perform such feats as long as they have a good system in place for building mental habits.

First, you need to have both progressive, achievable goals that you can meet in the short term and a long-term goal to look forward to. If you are trying to lose weight then your long-term goal might be to lose 50 pounds, but your first goal may simply be to lose two pounds. It doesn’t matter that two pounds isn’t much, your short-term goals will keep you success oriented and motivated.

Second, you need to track your progress, which means keeping a log. Sometimes there will be setbacks, and that’s okay, but you always need to know where you are. Think of it like a bank account: you always need to know how much money you have, even if it’s less that you would like. Looking back at your log empowers you to make better choices and reinforces your decision to make a change.

Depending on how much complexity you want to deal with, you can use Logging It in at least two different ways when building new habits. The simpler way is to simply record relevant information in a single list, along with a few comments about your progress.

The other method is to make one list that contains each of the smaller milestones that build up to your long-term goal, marking the dates when you achieve each of them. Then you create additional lists for each of your milestones where you record your daily progress. For example, your main list might be ‘Run Five Miles,’ and your secondary lists would be ‘Run a Half Mile,’ ‘Run a Full Mile,’ and so forth.

Looking back you will be able to see how well you did hitting each milestone and how all of those intermediate goals led up to the new habit that you have formed. Nested lists require a little more use, but they really unlock the full potential of the LoggingIt interface.

Choosing what data you need to log depends on the habit that you are trying to form (or the habit you are trying to break, for the smokers and nail biters in the room), but LoggingIt already has log forms especially for exercise, dieting and other common activities. And if none of the preset options fit your needs, you can always create custom fields.

Of course, you won’t be able to use either type of log until you sign up with LoggingIt, but don’t worry, you can try it out free of charge.

So what are you waiting for? Sign up with LoggingIt today.