To read, listen to, or watch

On Habit Change

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Atomic Habits by James Clear

You can also find dozens of posts about my successes, failures, and learning at workingoutloud.com/search?q=habits.

Progress Charts

These two posts are about my early progress charts and what motivated me to make them. You can see photos of three of my charts in the Examples column on this page.

Blog: How this one simple chart made me happier in 6 weeks

Blog: “How’s the book coming along?”

Better Introductions

“PSA: Email Introduction Etiquette” by Anand Sanwal 

Blog: How to introduce people online

Related to the Additional Exercise

Blog: “You can be a delicious, ripe peach and there will still be people in the world that hate peaches.”

Related Chapters in Working Out Loud:

  • Chapter 8 - A Growth Mindset

  • Chapter 13 - Making It a Habit

  • Chapter 19 - Shipping and Getting Better

Additional Exercises & FAQ

Something you can do in less than 15 minutes

What if, instead of constantly trying to fight against some of our cognitive and behavioral weaknesses, we could use them to our advantage?

That question is at the heart of what’s meant by “structuring your environment,” an item on the Habit Checklist. The mindful placement of triggers for positive actions (and elimination of triggers for negative actions), can alter your behavior without requiring much effort or even thinking.

Read the two posts below. Then reflect on how you might apply this idea to the new habits you’re trying to develop or change. How might you structure your environment and make it easier on yourself?

Blog: “The best diet is the one you don’t know you’re on”

Blog: “Did I take my pill today?”

Q: You said the the progress chart and structuring your environment were the most important items on the Habit Checklist. What about the other items?

While those two are what has been most useful for me, I find I use all eight items on the list fairly regularly. I truly think of it as a checklist.

Let’s say I’m procrastinating about taking some step, for example. (An all too common occurrence!) Then I may apply the checklist in any or all of the following ways:

  • I’ll try to make the step smaller and ask myself, "What’s one thing I could do today?”

  • I’ll make the goal more achievable by framing it as a learning goal. That makes it feel less risky, and no matter what happens I’ll be sure to get something from it. It also means that I won’t be so discouraged if things don’t go as I might like.

  • I’ll plan to reward myself in some way. (“Once I finish this, I’ll get a nice cappuccino and sit in the sun.”)

  • Often, just “co-working” with a friend will help me overcome inertia or resistance. For example, we’ll meet in a cafe, tell each other what we need to do, and then sit down and do it. That kind of peer support enforces a sense of shared accountability that helps us both focus and deliver.

Examples, Templates & Media

A Few of My Own Progress Charts

My first chart: The number of hours working on the Book in 2014

Progress! More Things to track (Note the fancy graphics :-))

A recent chart Taped near the bathroom mirror: A kind of “dashboard for life” (Which continues to change as I change, with different things becoming more or less important, or requiring more or less of my attention)