Posts Tagged "Slow Thinking"

The Slow way to make your routine work for you not against you

Posted on Feb 1, 2014 | 0 comments

The Slow way to make your routine work for you not against you

This is something I never thought a non-conformist fond of change and exercising creativity like me would admit – routine is important. More so if no one else (such as an employer) is providing the structure for you. I had overlooked just what effect waking up every morning and being able to what I wanted, when I wanted, would have. I guess I had assumed that I would get to work 9-5 just like before but in a different location. Boy was I wrong. What are the implications of a lack of routine? The main issue is that using your limited pool of conscious effort to make decisions about things other than your important tasks means that you are significantly less effective than if you devoted the majority of your Slow Thinking daily quota to your daily priorities. As discussed here, your Slow Thinking system appears to draw from the same limited pool of available effort as willpower. Looking at routine as a subject for the project was not what I thought I would be focussing on in the early days. But following the realisation about effectiveness and its relationship with routine I had to quickly redress the balance of structure in my day before I flittered away too much time (and yes this does sound like someone for whom Slow does not come naturally. The purposeful part of Slow does for me, but not the patience part). Having a consciously chosen routine means your mind is freed up to focus on what is important. Being on autopilot is not Slow, but deliberately choosing what to allow routines to take care of in order to stay purposeful, is. Much like my journey with living with intention, this is all a work in progress but thought I would share some lessons as I go: Things like eating well and exercising are important, especially for someone like me who values health extremely highly. But I also go overboard with focusing on this and spend too much effort making decision about what and when I eat and exercise. Don’t let one of your values have too much sway over your routine – it will crowd out other values you hold, in this case my value of ‘contributing with purpose.’ Think about what time of day works best for you to complete certain activities, create and stick to a schedule so you no longer need to think about what you do when. For example what works for me is doing some form of centring and contemplative practice when I get out of bed,  exercise, then going into the most important task I have to complete that day that involves mental effort. Similarly, use natural rhythms and cycles to find the right routine, not just any routine. Getting myself to bed earlier is the main habit I’m working on because our melatonin/seratonin cycle guides our sleep and waking patterns. Seratonin is highest just before sunrise and melatonin at sunset; being in sync with the earth’s circadian rhythms has many benefits (sleeping better, reducing sugar cravings, increasing optimism and pro-activeness to name a few). Having a routine in terms of how you structure your day helps you keep in mind what your intent is for each part of the day. Use this, don’t multitask, limit distractions. Goals versus systems – using systems (routines) to achieve progress to desired outcomes is much more empowering and enables you to focus on the small steps which lead to success. For more on this topic here is a great blog post by James Clear Do you have any tips for...

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3 phases of Slow habit-hacking

Posted on Dec 19, 2013 | 0 comments

3 phases of Slow habit-hacking

Habits are repeated patterns of behaviour that we have become sufficiently familiar with that we pass the job of initiating that behaviour over to the subconscious. Before a habit is undertaken there is a trigger that tells your subconscious to run the habitual behaviour and the habit in turn has a consequence of providing you with a reward, for example avoidance of boredom or stress. We’ll cover a few topics here: Slow Thinking and Fast Thinking systems (just the basics) & how habits fit Why the Slow Project is interested in habits What Slow would recommend for habit hacking Slow Thinking, Fast Thinking & Habits In his book, Thinking Fast and Slow, eminent psychologist Daniel Kahneman describes two systems of thinking: System 1: Fast Thinking – intuitive, subconscious, operates quickly and automatically with little or no effort or sense of voluntary control System 2: Slow Thinking – conscious, rational, requires effort and attention Although Kahneman does not tackle habits directly in this book, the two system framework of understanding our decision making hardware is relevant to habits especially when looking at them through a Slow lens. A few keys points to note are that: We like to think that most of our thinking happens in System 2. This is false. System 1 does the heavy lifting (we are not ‘homo rationalis’). Even when we do use Slow Thinking, the impressions and feelings that are the main sources of explicit beliefs and choices of System 2 originate in System 1. System 2 takes a huge amount of effort to utilise. Think how hard it is to maintain a continuous train of thought. If we can get away with it, we pass on as much work to System 1 as possible. “Thinking is the hardest work there is, that is why so few people engage in it.” Habits are part of our Fast Thinking system. Studies show that self control and deliberate thought draw from the some pool of available effort. Ever noticed that your ability to forego your vices is significantly less after a busy day? “The operations of System 1 are governed by habit so they’re difficult to either modify or control.” You can read a lengthier article by Kahneman on the two systems here. Habits serve an important function because we only have a certain reserve of cognitive energy to use on conscious, deliberate thought. We are wired for habits for the sake of economy of thought, otherwise we would waste time and energy worrying about things that do not matter very much. This makes sense; I’ve got better things to use my limited System 2 thought budget on than re-thinking how and when to brush my teeth. Our brain is interested in paying attention to novelty. Once we have become familiar with something, including our own behaviour, and comforted that it does not pose a risk to us, we relegate it to our Fast Thinking system. Habits can, however, take over areas of our lives that we do not want them to. Why the Slow Project is interested in habits I am passionate about living fully as your authentic self as I discussed here. Habits can prevent us from realising that potential. Instead of experiencing discomfort that comes from change, we follow urges to go with the familiar and a comfort zone is created. However that comfort zone can prevent us from doing our best work and from truly seeing, experiencing and learning (check out this clip on experiencing awe and how comfort zones act a as a barrier). Remember that System 1 is governed by habits...

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