Thursday, January 1, 2009

A little bit, every day

by Suw on January 1, 2009

Last year, psychologists discovered that humans aren’t really all that great at “willpower”:

The brain has a limited capacity for self-regulation, so exerting willpower in one area often leads to backsliding in others.

Another key discovery last year was made by Kevin, who found that if you overwhelm your body clock with exhaustion at the end of a trip, you get over jetlag much quicker.

This year, I’m planning on combining the two discoveries to attempt to rework certain aspects of my life. Rather than having one little New Year’s Resolution that attempts to change one behaviour, I’m going to totally overwhelm my brain’s poor willpower circuits by doing lots at once. I know that’s the opposite of what you’re supposed to do, but what the hell, it’s worth a shot.

My basic plan for 2009 is “Do a little, every day”, and I’ll be applying that to pretty much everything. I’ve already started with a new email regime, which involves putting all of 2008’s outstanding emails into a folder (which I will sort through during January), and vowing to keep my inbox empty. I’ll be more batchy with my email checking – four or five times a day, and I’ll process them rather than just read them. That’s going to be quite a big new habit to get into.

I’m not the only one trying to change my email ways – Bill Thompson and I put together a pledge on Pledgebank:

Pledge “tidyinbox”

“I will ensure that my inbox is empty before I go to bed each day in 2009 but only if 25 other online peeps will do the same.”

— Bill Thompson, of

Deadline to sign up by: 30th January 2009
9 people have signed up, 16 more needed

More details
Suw and Bill believe that inbox cleanliness is as close to godliness as atheistic net users get. We’d like our friends to join us in our quest for virtue and salvation.

If you want a new start to your email year, come and join us!

I think my basic problem is that I tend to hoard things up and then feel that I need a huge chunk of time to get anything done. Of course, I never have a huge chunk of time, so nothing really gets done until it’s urgent. It’s not just email, it’s everything. You name it, I can procrastinate it!

So for 2009, my aim is to just do a little bit of big tasks on a regular basis. I shall be applying this to:

  • email
  • blogging
  • paperwork & administrivia
  • jewellery making (this is especially important – I can’t make lots of jewellery in one go without knackering my wrists)
  • writing
  • tidying up
  • cleaning
  • going to the gym
  • putting clothes away
  • quitting sugary drinks and snacks
  • preparing for our house move in Spring, e.g. recycling clothes, shredding documents

…and pretty much anything else I can think of. I’m hoping the fact that I’m attempting to change an underlying attitude rather than lots of different behaviours will help me succeed, but feel free to keep me honest and ask me via Twitter whether I’m keeping up with it or not.

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