I’ve never been a bookworm. The last book I read to its full length was Masters of Doom by David Kushner which I borrowed from a colleague in late 2021, started reading about new years and finished during summer break. It was a really good read, no doubt about that, I’ve just never been good at reading which is why it always took a long time to get through even a good book.
Enter James Clear and his wonderful book Atomic Habits. I’ve owned this book for 21 days as of writing, and I’m about two thirds through. This has happened to me a grand total of zero times before in that time frame.
I’d heard so many good reviews of this book, but I always thought I was above all of those simple “tricks”, that I could not be manipulated that easily. Boy do I stand corrected. One of the more profound tricks was one popularised by David Allen in his book Getting Things Done and it was brought to my attention in Atomic Habits:
If it takes less than two minutes, do it now – Definitely not me three weeks ago
In the past few weeks my daily to-do list has never been shorter. The things just kinda sort out themselves and I get to spend my brain cycles thinking about things I care about. Simply by asking myself, “can I empty the dishwasher in two minutes or less”, the task becomes very concrete and time boxed, which makes the decision phase very simple. If I can, then I do it, and if I can’t, I’ve concluded that there is an effort larger than two minutes to be done here when I have the time – which could still be now. Even if I end up spending four or five minutes on a task it’s not like I’m worse off an empty dishwasher.
So thanks James Clear, for introducing me to systematic behaviour change, letting me spend less time thinking about menial tasks, and more time about things I actually want to think about.