Saturday, October 19, 2013

Day 19: Habits and Rewards.

Rewards are an integral part of a habit: in fact, it may be that we perform the habit just for the sake of the reward.

This is powerful knowledge to have when trying to change a habit--simply keeping the cue and reward the same, but swapping out the behaviour (or routine) in the middle is a sure-fire way to change a habit. You have to be careful, though! In two days, I will celebrate my fifth anniversary as a born-again non-smoker. One of the "rewards" of smoking, for me, was the feeling of having something in my mouth. I substituted putting food into my mouth for drawing smoke into it. a-hem. Not a good substitution! Now, I try to use water.

The best rewards, of course, are attached to the habit itself: but it doesn't have to be, especially when you are trying to develop a new habit.

what will greet me in the morning

Yesterday, we talked about creating a cue for dealing with my paperwork. But what is my reward?
In time, perhaps, it will be a nicely cleaned out paper tray, but for now, while I am developing the habit, five or ten minutes on pinterest would be a lovely reward.

I am trying to develop another habit.

When I decided to implement Aby's advice to "finish the day" I realised I had to establish a new habit of tidying and picking up at the "end" of my day.

It is going to take me some time to turn the evening routine into a habit. It has taken me months to get into the groove of doing my dinner dishes--I still don't have a proper trigger for them. (Right after we finish supper is not a great time for me. I like to stay off my feet and relax!) I just wander into the kitchen at some point in the evening and, if no one is in the shower right then, I do them.

Here's what I want to do:

  • wash dishes
  • re-set the kitchen (wipe counters, wipe stove, clear off the kitchen table.)
  • put away what I took out today and what came in today (including the groceries. All of them. ack.)
  • set up the coffee pot for the morning
  • re-set the desk
  • tidy up any on-going projects (Be done back entry way project, be done and be gone!)
The reward? Going to bed.
In truth, the reward comes the next morning when I greet a tidy house with fresh coffee.

I will let you know how it goes.

ETA: You can catch all the posts in the series here.


Rita@thissortaoldlife said...

I am always glad when I wake up to a clean kitchen. Sadly, that doesn't happen as often as I'd like! Totally hear you on not wanting to do kitchen chores right after dinner, but I've found that works best for me. And that means all of them--not only dishes, but the next day's lunches (one I particularly detest). For me, then, the reward is getting to do whatever I want, and not having any other kitchen chores hanging over my head.

Alana in Canada said...

Yes, I'm beginning to see the wisdom of that approach. I'm still kicking my heels, of course. Last night we had to go grocery shopping right after dinner--and as soon as we got home, I put everything away and did our dishes when all I wanted to do was curl up with my book. I was shocked at myself.

onshore said...

Are you sure going to bed is a good reward? I know you can easily postpone going to bed for hours :)

Well done about yesterday!

Alana in Canada said...

ha ha. I used to be able to stay up for hours--now that I am a working girl I can barely stay awake past 10pm!

April of MooreMagnets said...

Trying to have the kitchen cleaned and reset is one of my big goals ... I'm close, but not there every day - So, woohoo! you are doing a fantastic job! It's so easy to let it go until the next morning, but a little like having that glass of wine that you should have passed on ... a headache!

Anonymous said...

For me, I re-defined tasks. Supper time is not cooking, but no eating, now is it.?? Of course not. But I added to "supper time" cooking, eating, AND. kitchen clean up/leftovers in refrig, and dish washing. Laundry? I define as washing, drying, AND mmediately folding to avoid wrinkles, and putting away. The WHOLE chain of activities is automatically included. Makes it all a mindless habit. Taking care of the mundane gives me head and time space for other activities. Gail

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