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I’m writing this right now from my FitDesk. I’ve recently started spending 25 minutes a day biking and this allows me to write while working out. I know I need to get in better shape, and this is one way to do that. I’m writing this is on Day 3 of the streak, and I’m planning on making it a long streak.
I’ve attached biking to my evening routine because this routine is already built in with other established habits. It’s the first thing I do after my son goes to bed and if I keep this schedule then I’ll be wrapped up before my daughter goes to bed (which is important since the FitDesk is situated in a room adjacent to her bedroom).
Now I won’t always write from this bike. I won’t always check email from it either. Sometimes I’ll watch something on TV instead or listen to a book or podcast – maybe even an audio “blink” from Blinkist because the timing of one of those matches up so well with my time on the bike. But what I will always do is cardio for 25 minutes a day. I won’t always be able to do it in the same way (like when I’m traveling), but there will always be other ways to keep the streak alive.
And I will keep this streak alive because I’ve made it manageable and fit it in with the other aspects of my life without disrupting it too much.
One bad habit I’ve picked up is drinking soda. I’ve been a soda drinker for as long as I can remember. While away at the World Domination Summit I drank a rare Cherry Coke at the border crossing. Then I swore off soda as a regular drink before promptly forgetting and having a Coke later that night after a meetup I co-hosted. I was mad at myself the next day when I realized I did that and swore off soda once again. Since then, I’ve only had four soft drinks. That’s one per week. I’ve given myself permission to have soft drinks on the rare occasion, but they no longer have a place in my home (at least for me). Another streak is alive and well after an early misstep.
Streaks are crafted through consistent execution. But they can only be created and valued when the awareness required to be executed is strong. Streaks are made up through habits, and Charles Duhigg has written about this at length here. Using the idea of cue-routine-reward is wise when you want to establish a streak because you need to really think about ways to improve your odds of keeping it alive.
So how did I do that with the FitDesk streak? I did the following:
1. I moved the FitDesk downstairs. It simply fits in better there in terms of layout and I pass it every single day when I go to my office. Plus it’s close to my office so I can grab reading material (or this MacBook Pro I’m writing on) easily.
2. I recognized that exercising in the evening works better for me. There’s a reason I created The Night Owl Action Plan I’m a night owl and I know others out there are too. So I’m better off exercising later in the day than first thing in the morning. Right now I’m exercising later in the day but perhaps once the streak is well-established I’ll move it to before dinnertime. But I can’t see myself working out in the morning. It’s just not…me.
3. I came up with things I could do while on the FitDesk. These activities better leverage the device and not steal from other aspects of my life. Writing this newsletter is one thing I can do. Reading is another. Watching TED talks on the TV is yet another. There are many things I can do on the FitDesk that will allow me to do something I rarely do otherwise: multitask.
Now what about the anti-soda streak?
1. I asked my wife if we could stop buying soda. That was a very easy sell.
2. The SodaStream is downstairs and the syrups for it are upstairs. The bottles are in the downstairs fridge so when I want some carbonated water, I can make that happen without much friction. But if I start to want a sugary soda, I then realize that the syrups are upstairs which then forces me to recognize why they are upstairs. That has really worked for me – using that distance as a deterrent to make a sugary soda. Instead, I have pure juice downstairs I can add to the bottle if I want – and only a tablespoon at that.
3. I created two permissions when soda is acceptable. I can drink soda at the movies and at fast food establishments. Since I rarely go to either, this makes the permissions very infrequent. Even at home I’m now drinking carbonated water (or plain old water) while watching Netflix or whatever.
So far these streaks are going strong, but they are only in their infancy. Other streaks have lasted much longer, such as my daily theming and morning and evening routines.
The key to consistency is to make it achievable and setting up frameworks and boundaries are going to give you a great start on that. In the weeks ahead I’ll be offering up some resources to help you implement frameworks that can really help you keep your streaks – no matter what they are – alive and well.