We’d like to think that we have willpower, but the truth is most of us don’t (me included). When it comes down to it, it is just way too easy to quit and fall into your old habits. So, for the past few months, instead of saying I’ll do something, I’ve been using my former psychology education to set traps for myself to build habits that I want to have, including learning to code. Here are some of my traps:
Ok, so I’m pretty guilty of checking Hacker News, Techcrunch, Twitter, and Facebook way too often throughout the day. The reason I do it is because it is so easy. As soon as I’m stuck or get a little bored of whatever I’m working on, I just go and check one of these sites.
I got pretty sick of how much time I waste on this throughout the day (not to mention it actually disturbs my flow), so I googled around and found the Mac Self Control app. The app is pretty simple. Just select websites you don’t want to visit (Hacker News, Facebook, etc), set a time frame, and voila! you can’t access these sites.
Now, whenever I get a little bored of whatever I’m working on, I have no other option but to keep working on it. It’s been an incredible productivity boost.
Charging Phone Downstairs
I’ve developed a bad habit of waking up and checking my phone for email, Hacker News, Techcrunch, Facebook, etc as soon as I wake up. As a result, I spend my morning lying in bed checking these sites instead of getting up and starting my day with productivity or at least some clarity of mind (I’m a fan of taking some time to do nothing and let my brain wander – that’s why so many good ideas come during shower time!).
So to get rid of this annoying habit, I simply started charging my phone downstairs instead of near my bed. Now, when I wake up, I have no other choice but to get up and get on with my day without wasting time. It’s also great to just wake up with a clear mind and try to maintain it throughout breakfast before heading over to the computer.
Ask my friends, and they know that as soon as they step into my apartment, they will not find any cookies. The key to eating healthy is trapping yourself into eating healthy. If you have cookies and chips and coke and other bad stuff just lying around nearby, no willpower will keep you healthy. Instead, I only buy healthy food, so when I’m hungry, I have no other option but to eat healthy. And when I do have a craving for something unhealthy, it usually ends up being way too much work to get it and I just let that pass.
As a bonus, I keep a full water bottle by my desk throughout the day, so it’s always very convenient for me to drink water, and I end up drinking A LOT of it!
Learning To Code
When I first started going through the CS106A Stanford Online Course, I wanted to quit. It was really really hard. So I set a few traps for myself. For one, I started this blog. I also wrote a post on Women 2.0 publicly claiming that I was going to learn to code and asking if anyone else wanted to join me. I got 46 people to join, so, as a leader of this new study group, quitting was no longer an option for me.
While the group of people learning to code with me kept me going in the beginning of my journey, this blog’s increasing readers keep me going today long after I finished the Stanford CS106A course.
You know yourself much better than anyone else. You know what makes you lazy. While it’s tempting to rely on your willpower to learn to code or to pretty much accomplish anything else you want in life, consider embracing your humanity and instead figure out ways to trick yourself into reaching your dreams.