Tag Archives: bad habits

On Productivity, Rewards, and More…

So let’s have an update on my HabitRPG life. It’s going well! I’m a level 6 now and have made it a habit to bring my lunch to work and to get some reading in every night. It’s been pretty enjoyable winding down before bed with a book and I think today I’ll be adding an element to deter me from looking at my phone before bed. I’ve read that the light of the screen makes your brain think it’s time to wake up because it’s similar to morning light, and that probably explains why I don’t get a great night’s sleep during the week. Nail biting has been pretty much non-existent since my nails have been painted, and messing with my face has proven to be difficult to avoid. It doesn’t help that I left my regular moisturizer at the sister-in-love’s house last weekend and had to temporarily switch to one I used unsuccessfully before.

Onto my more daily routines. I’ve done a good job of tidying up around the apartment each night – I’m saving major cleaning for weekends because it’s important to have some down time after work, for me at least. I’ve been killin’ it when it comes to blogging on a regular basis (and aren’t you SO happy that I’m back?) and on exercising on a regular basis. I’ve been working on strengthening my core so that when the weather turns and I find it acceptable to run outside again, I’ll be prepared for my oh-so-hilly neighborhood. I made it a daily task to set my clothes out for work the night before as well and it has been saving me a lot of time in the mornings. I never knew how much time I wasted standing in front of my closet trying to figure out what to wear before I’ve had any coffee.

Most importantly, I’ve followed through on my weekly tasks of putting money away in my savings and toward my credit card. Three cheers for financial freedom!

The to-do feature has been really great while I’m at work. I usually load up my work list in the app and set due dates for each item, then arrange the list by what’s due first. It’s really helped with prioritizing, which is something I struggle with at times when everything seems to be due all at once. Since completed tasks earn “gold,” which you can then redeem for the rewards you set, it’s nice to be able to say things like, “I literally earned this glass of wine today.”

TL;DR: HabitRPG is awesome and it’s working really well for me! Still recommending it to everyone out there that’s trying to accomplish what feels like more than they can handle!

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On What I’m Reading and Other Curiosities…

One of the habits I’m trying to incorporate into my everyday life is reading for an hour a day. When I lived in New York City, I devoured books by reading them on the train to and from work. It made the commutes so much better – I would create my own little world with my headphones on while reading a book. Now having to drive to work (which is great, don’t get me wrong), my reading time isn’t as obvious, and so I’ve carved out time before bed to live through some new worlds and characters. Reading before bed was supposed to help relax my mind and prevent me from looking at my phone until I fall asleep…but I definitely still look at my phone nearly every night. Looks like I’ll be adding another “bad habit” to my app.

Anyhow, a book I started reading back in NYC, oh so long ago, is Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami. It was a lovely distraction while commuting between Queens and Manhattan, and then it got away from me when I moved up north. I picked it up again this week and it’s just as good as I remember.

If you haven’t read Murakami and love surreal situations and settings, then please, PLEASE, procure a copy of one of his works at your earliest convenience. So far I’ve read The Wind Up Bird Chronicle and Norwegian Wood, and I loved the first and wasn’t crazy about the second. HBW has given me so much more of that first book that I loved, but I can’t predict where it’s going based on my previous experiences with Murakami.

This book is also the first in a challenge I’ve accepted via Pinterest (yes, I know I’m really basic). It’s a “26 Books to read in 2015” challenge that was posted by another blog, Bringing Up Burns. I haven’t checked out their original post about it yet, but I intend to do so.

This challenge was appealing to me especially since I went from reading dozens of books a year to not picking them up for months. To some, 26 books is easy, and it might be to me with this hour before bed set aside for reading. If I can get through at least 26 books this year, I can no longer say things like, “I love reading, I just don’t have any time for it.”

And then perhaps I’ll stop using that excuse for other things that I love to do but “don’t have time for.” Most of us think we’re too busy for things, but I believe it’s because we’re too lazy to make the time for it. I’m incredibly guilty of this. For example, I love to run but I’ve hardly done it at all since Thanksgiving. A lot of this is due to my stubbornness when it comes to running in sub-freezing weather and not wanting to pull a muscle or have burning lungs all day, but until recently I didn’t even make time for workouts that would help me run even better when I was ready to hit the pavement again. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you take the time to schedule these things out.

Hey, maybe you’ll even revive your blog and write in it for three consecutive days! I hope you all take some time in your days to do something good for you, and something that you love.

On Breaking Bad Habits…

I’ve heard varying theories on how long it takes to form a new habit, and after trying things out for myself, I’ve found that it varies. I’ve had certain bad habits all my life that I’ve tried to break with these streaks and some have worked while others haven’t. I’m still looking for a way to break the nail-biting that has plagued me for as long as I can remember.

With many failed attempts in the past, I decided to try something new that the dude introduced to me: HabitRPG. This is an app/website that not only helps you build new, productive habits, it also helps you break the bad ones by turning everyday into a video game. You create an avatar, then set up habits (good and bad), dailies, to-dos, and rewards. I started with my bad habits: nail-biting and messing with the skin on my face (I’ve had various forms of acne since I was a teenager and have been incredibly unsuccessful not only in combating it, but also keeping myself from making it worse). I just click on these habits whenever I do them, and it takes “life” away from my character. It definitely takes some discipline to rat on yourself, but if you’re really determined to break the habits, I think it’s easy to stay true. As I was chatting with the dude about all the things I had set up, I found myself biting my nail and had to take a 3pt. hit to my health.

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image via kickstarter – not my actual habits and goals!

I’ve also set up some good habits that I want to form such as bringing my lunch to work (we have a cafeteria downstairs that’s inexpensive and very easy to default to) and reading for an hour a day (I love to read but always claim to not have time for it).

The dailies don’t necessarily have to be everyday activities, but are more regular ones you would like to adopt. I set up a once per week task of putting money into my savings account or setting it aside for wedding gifts for friends this year (because we have five weddings to go to. FIVE.). I really like this customized feature – it’s important not to overload yourself with so many daily things, and it helps keep you on track if some new things are less frequent than others. My exercise and blog posts fell under the dailies column as well, but these are set up for four times a week, while making sure the apartment is clean has been set as an actual daily task.

Even better than the dailies are the to-dos – one-off tasks that you can set up each day to be completed, and that can also have a set due date. With today being my day off, I set up to-dos for doing laundry and running the dishwasher. I was able to make a checklist for them to help get through each part of the tasks (running dishwasher, putting dishes away, reloading it, etc.), and if you don’t finish the entire task, having it partially completed allows you to lose less “life.” I made a “clean out my closet” task that’s due Friday, so we’ll see how well I stick to that one!

Lastly, by far the best part of the app, you’re able to set up rewards. With each daily/to-do completed, and good habit reinforced, you earn gold and experience. You can create rewards with varying costs for which you cash in your gold. For example, for 15 gold, I’m treating myself to beer or wine. For 40, I’m going to the movies (not just watching one on Netflix). And for 75, I’m buying myself something I don’t need. The app/website also allows you to buy equipment with your gold like in an actual RPG, and it can help you fight/recover the bad habits and unfinished tasks that happen from time to time. I’ve yet to really explore this part of it, but can’t wait to get my 75 gold to buy something fun.

Like I said before, it takes discipline to really stick to it, but that’s the case when you’re trying to do these things on your own as well. I definitely recommend this to those that need to make chores and breaking bad habits more fun – I know I certainly could use it. I’ll keep you up to date on my progress probably on a monthly basis. And I’m gaining experience right now just by writing this post – huzzah!