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Finish and Thus Don't Duplicate

Want to hear one of the strangest things I've found by time tracking?

Often, a really big and important task will only take 20 minutes of time to do when I sit down to get it done.

The thing is, it's not really 20 minutes. It's 20 minutes of action, after already spending three hours thinking about it over the course of a few days.

But it dawns on me - the hardest part of many hazy tasks is figuring out what to do. Almost any time we look at a hard task, our mind runs through the quick options and makes a decision.

A lot of times, we leave things alone if there's no great action to take. But, that means we're probably duplicating the thinking part of the effort many, many times.

Birth of a Habit

On Tynan

I always write about habits after they're done, but I thought that it would be interesting to write about one before it starts, to get really specific about the actual process of creating a new habit.

For my entire life, I've been messy. Battles were waged over my unwillingness to keep my room tidy as a kid. My RV is very easy to clean, but somehow my four forks and spoons live in the sink instead of their drawer. Even when I stay with friends while traveling, where I know it's extremely important to be respectful of their space and keep my stuff as low-impact as possible, I find myself being careless about leaving power cords and shoes around.

A useful first step towards changing a big lifelong habit like this is to build up a healthy contempt for your previous execution. This isn't self loathing or anything like that, just the attitude where you say, "This is completely unacceptable and ridiculous."

I remember about two years ago when I went to the dentist, I asked her what the most important thing I could do for my teeth was. She said it was flossing every day. I already knew that, of course, but I asked the question in a subconscious hope that she would say that it was something I was already doing. At that moment, I thought, "How insane is it that I'm unable to just floss my teeth every day, and that I need to ask a dentist for some justification not to do it?"

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