There are things I want to do, that I need to do, that I should do, but that are so very, very easy to postpone. Oh, I'm so tired, I'll just floss tomorrow. Oh, I don't feel like working out today, I'll start up again next week. Before I know it, months have passed and I have to deal with the fallout from my continuing procrastination.
The best way I've found to combat this is to change the rules of the game. I put up a calendar in a place that I'm going to have no choice but to see every day, and every day that I do what I ought to, I put a mark on the calendar. Now the game isn't about "omg floss or die", it's about making the largest unbroken run of marks on the calendar that I can. The longer the streak, the better--and the more pressure there is to not break the streak.
The first time I tried this, I printed out a blank month from Google Calendar and taped it up to the wall by my bathroom sink. It worked great until the end of the month--at which point I started procrastinating about printing the next month's calendar. Oh, it just takes a minute, I'll deal with it tomorrow. So this time, I've made myself a one-page calendar for the whole year, so I have no excuse as March flips over into April--I can just keep on building an epic winning streak.
So here's my advice:
- Keep it simple--your criteria for success on any given day should be straightforward and easy to achieve. "I flossed today."
- Put it somewhere visible--you should not be able to evade a daily confrontation with how you're doing. After just a few days in a row, this will be something you're excited to see.
- Keep a pen or marker nearby and don't let it get out of range--if you don't mark your wins, you won't have the visual reinforcement.
- Have lots of extra calendar available--you don't want your streak to die just because it's a new month.
You can download my 2011 one-page calendar and start your winning streak today.
What are you waiting for?