For developing habit consistency, in Elastic Habits Stephen Guise highly recommends we choose a cue for each habit. They can be Action Cues (e.g. I walk the dog after I brush my teeth); Daily Cues (I need to do my stretches any time before I go to bed); Morning Plan Cue (I decide each morning when to do my habits); Time-based (I exercise from 6:15 to 7:10 am every day); or Window Cue (In the morning, I write in my journal)(Guise 2019).
I like the Window Cue best for me. It adds flexibility to the whole habit idea. I have learned since writing my previous posts on my journey developing habits that I HATE being hemmed in to a time frame (e.g. “From 8 to 9 am I will write report A” she says in a stern voice). Don’t get me wrong, I am fine with making a schedule, bossing that woman around, but when that woman is supposed to adhere to the preset schedule, she rebels and even rejects the habit or task altogether. The inner 15-year old comes out in full force. Fellow blogger Mrs ESTJ had to talk me of the cliff.
Guise recommends we use the Daily Cue when starting to build habits. Currently I am using the Window Cues “Before 8 am”, “Around noon hour”, and “Before 5 pm”, as windows for my habits.
I assign the windows based on my self-knowledge about my own energy levels, per Morgan Tyree’s themes in Take Back Your Time (Tyree 2019).
Green Energy Level is when we feel focused, energized, and priorities are easy. We are on fire, Baby!
Yellow Energy Level is when we feel a bit lagging. We can be productive, but nothing too taxing (think folding towels, chopping carrots). And the best news ever is, Morgan actually gives us permission to multi-task during these windows of time with these low energy tasks. Woo hoo!
Red Energy Level is when we feel empty, crazed and need nourishment (like reading a book, doing crosswords, taking a bath, etc.).
I am in my green energized and creative zone in the morning before my day job starts. So I try to write, read non-fiction books, run, and plan my day before 8 am. By lunch time, I am buzzed out and need calming so I either do an exercise class or a meditation to help me re-center. After work, I am good for manual labor jobs like cooking dinner, sweeping floors, mowing the lawn. And I often multi-task those with podcasts or conversations with family.
Assigning these zones to my proposed habits becomes the following: Habit #1 – Exercise in the before work window. Habit #2 – meditate in the lunch window. Habit #3 – Write/Read Non-fiction are also in my before work window. Assigning windows of time makes it easier to be consistent with tasks and habits because we are using our time and energy more effectively.
Furthermore, I try NOT to fold towels or do laundry in the morning, tempting as that is. That morning zone is reserved for my critical thinking tasks. I would probably waste my focus nitpicking folding techniques. Also, I have low expectations of writing much at night; it just isn’t fruitful for me.
- Think over your green, yellow and red zones in your day. Apply your colored zones to your entire day. For example: Green is 6-11:30 am and 4-7 pm. Yellow is 1:30-4 pm. Red is 11:30 -1:30 pm and 7 pm on.
- Decide on your 3 habits to practice daily. Only pick 3. Remember in this post when my brain blew up and I ended up in bed all afternoon after failing at 6 new habits? I quit the whole thing for a month… Just slow down cowboy, and don’t conquer the world.
- Assign window cues/zones to appropriate windows.
- Write it down, post it, and track it with check marks, tallies, or go full Stephen Guise and use his fun point system to stay motivated.
- Remember the rewards! Decide ahead of time what you earn for 3 days in a row, 5 days in a row, 15 days in a row, or even 1 month. I think about motivation with bottles of liquor, massages, pretty flowers, special dark chocolate, bath time alone with a book, new pack of pens, pretty journal, etc.
Onward and upward! You got this! Let me know how it works for you. I digested 2 entire books into this post, and it is more than possible that I left out some crucial tips.
I will let you know as well how it goes for me. I just set it up all over again 3 days ago. I attached a photo of my tracking sheet, and my boyfriend Jim’s sheet. He is a lot neater and detail-oriented than me. Ha!