A Surprisingly Simple Trick to Build a Habit

Over the last weekend, I’ve been learning Flutter, Google’s UI toolkit that would allow me to create a native mobile application with only one codebase on Udemy. The instructor of that particular course, Angela Yu, provided some tips and advice in between lessons that would aid the students in the process of learning and mastering the skills. That was when I came across one of the videos which was titled “Habit Building with the Calendar Trick”. I found the trick interesting and easy to apply so I’ve decided to share it with you.

If you think about learning a skill (be it learning a musical instrument or coding), it needs you to make a constant effort daily. If a person could spend 100 days and he spends one hour per day practicing a skill, then it is going to be so much better than if the person just did it on one weekend and forgets about it. Therefore, the difference between the two scenarios is if a person can build a habit; and once he builds a habit, he would not need to think about it anymore. Angela described a scenario in which we don’t think about whether we should brush our teeth or not because we have made it a habit and it requires almost zero mental effort to brush our teeth.

How could we make learning a habit, then? The trick that she suggested is to mark a line in the calendar. This trick was originated from Jerry Seinfeld, an American comedian. Some called this trick “Don’t Break the Chain”. For each day you do the task required to build your skill (eg: practice to code), you mark a line in your calendar. And by continuing that line day by day, at some point, you’re not going to want to break the chain, because it is going to be like “Man, I’ve done it for 10 days in a row. How hard is it just to do one more day?”. Most people benefited from continuing a streak, and by about 30 to 40 days, you would be able to build a habit, and you’ll ask fewer questions like “Do I have time to do it today? Do I want to do it?” because it requires less mental effort and motivation.

 

 

I found the trick interesting because it works similarly to Snapchat’s streak feature – an addictive, habit-building feature that keeps its users more engaged in the platform. If you’re a Snapchat user, I’m sure you’ve tried hard not to break the streak.

 

 

If you are thinking of building multiple habits, you could even draw multiple lines on the calendar, with each line representing different tasks that you wish to complete every day. Remember to keep the calendar visible as a constant reminder.

 

 

Go find a calendar and start drawing lines now!

Give it a go and see if it helps you!

 

Written by:

Jun Siong

 

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