Inevitably, there’s a tension between A.) habit formation and consistency and B.) rest, relaxation, and social interactions.
Mindfully proportioning our time and other resources between these two poles is one of the great challenges of the productive life.
The best example of the inevitable clash between Habits and Life is the weekend. The battlefield is our mind. The weapons are our thoughts and, ultimately, our actions.
First, the weekend lures you.
Well, it’s Thursday, which is almost Friday, and half of Friday is the weekend, so Thursday is the weekend.
Then it arrives.
I want to sleep in.
I don’t want to exercise.
I want to drink.
I don’t want to do any work.
I want to keep my habit.
I bet I’ll keep my habit even if I skip a day or two.
I don’t want to lose my habit.
And it leaves a mess in its wake.
I hate Mondays.
I deserve a recovery day.
I’ll start exercising again tomorrow.
I’ll start writing again tomorrow.
I’ll start eating better tomorrow.
Cleanup is hard.
It’s Wednesday?!? Where’d the week go?
It’s almost Thursday… <BLEEP>
The tension between habits (or what I’d call the “long term world” and life as it presents itself (“short term world”) is inevitable for those who pursue long term goals and simultaneously balance various other obligations.
But, like most tensions, the adverse effects can be mitigated.
My latest experiment — fairly successful — is pretty straight-forward.
How I Mitigate
For purposes of scheduling, I treat Friday and Saturday as one day. This means that I’m allowed to skip doing x on one day, but not the other. I do the same for Sunday and Monday.
This allows me to get things done and maintain my habits, while providing enough flexibility for me to relax for an afternoon of Netflix or spontaneously go hiking. (My wife likes this productivity hack more than my others.)
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday are treated normally. This is the stretch during which I schedule my most important and impactful actions.
It also happens to be the stretch when the weekend has the least amount of pull.
This tempo, so far, has sustained my habits, reduced my stress, and allowed me to balance my various tasks and obligations with more-than-my-life-average success.
(This was primarily sourced from How to be a Long Term Person in a Short Term World, available on Amazon.)