Habits and your task manager

August 15, 2020

Last Thursday, I ran a webinar titled Building Better Habits. I enjoyed talking about habits, because over the past few years, I have not explicitly addressed the topic much.

I want to share with you today the main point that I tried to get across in the webinar: that habits are different from the tasks that go in your task manager.

Consider this: do you have a task in your task manager that reads “brush my teeth”? What about “get dressed”? Or “brew myself a cup of coffee”?

You almost certainly don’t put these things in your task manager, yet they are, technically, tasks. The reason we don’t put such tasks in our task manager is that they happen on autopilot. We don’t need to “manage” such tasks because we do them automatically.

Now consider habits that people commonly want to establish, such as meditating daily, working out three days a week, or doing a certain business marketing activity every day. Let’s take the example of meditation.

If you are already in the habit of meditating every day, perhaps at a fixed time and place, what’s the added value of adding “Meditate” to your task manager? There isn’t any.

Conversely, if you do not yet meditate every day, but you add the repeating task to “Meditate”, will that help you establish the habit? Perhaps. It could serve as a reminder. But I often see people adding habits they want to establish to their task manager and then still not acting on them.

If something is already a habit, leave it out of your task manager. You can use a habit tracker app or a piece of paper if you feel the need to log your habit.

Now, if something is not yet a habit, you can use your task manager to make it a habit. In this case, don’t create a recurring task describing what you want to do. Instead, create a project to help you build the habit. For example, a project titled “Build the habit of meditating daily”.

Once you’ve established the habit, your project is complete, and you don’t need to bother adding any tasks relating to this habit in your task manager. You just automatically do the thing.

What sorts of tasks might you add to your habit-establishing project? For that, I suggest you watch the webinar. 😉

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