Habit Fields

by Jack Cheng

14 Reader Comments

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  1. I am so guilty of obsessively hitting refresh in Google Reader and, often times, procrastinating because there is a task that I may be having difficulty completing. Finding that “sweet spot” or flow is elusive, especially when I feel a bit frustrated.

    I am definitely a creature of habit. This article provided me with perspective as to how technology and every day objects are intermingled with memory and form habits—both good and bad.

    Thank you for the insight and great suggestions! I am cleaning up my desktop right now, lol.

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  2. Thanks for the article, it was very inspiring and well-written. Maybe you finally gave me an argument to buy an iPad (!?).

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  3. I found this article a bit painful to read, because I felt very convicted :-) I felt especially chagrined when I read that bit about habitually switching from app to app—I think I’ve built up quite a strong unproductivity pattern.

    There’s this new work technique I’m trying out, called the Pomodoro technique. It’s certainly artificial, but that’s a good thing, because it puts you into working mode. The creator of the technique suggests using one of those little tomato-shaped kitchen timers (‘tomato’ in Italian is ‘pomodoro’) so that the clicking sound of the machinery creates an auditory ‘habit field’.

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  4. @pdaoust, very interesting! It makes sense because the clicking sound and the ritual of setting the timer both give your brain another layer of context to tie the habit to.

    ( for those who don’t feel like Googling, here’s the link to more info about the technique: “http://www.pomodorotechnique.com”:http://www.pomodorotechnique.com )

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  5. first, thanks a lot about your research. its very usefull for me and my friend/co-worker.
    now i’m feeling a bit degradation with my work, but i couldn’t understand where is the problem. Your suggestions and tips are very helpfull. I will try to use it.

    thanks one more time ))

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  6. Interesting article and some good solid practical techniques.

    I’m interested in reading more of your writing but jackcheng.com tells me ruby on rails app couldn’t be started. Please Llet me know if its on my side or if its back up and I’ll head on over.

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  7. I agree with the difference between using your computer at the table or on the sofa. I always find myself drifting off and being easily distracted when on the sofa. When I’m at my table I can sit their for hours and get completely engrossed in my work which is a good thing. The Pomodoro technique also sounds like a great idea, especially when you’ve got a deadline to beat, it’s almost like hypnosis when you’re ‘in the zone’ as it were, especially with a ticking sound in the background :)

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  8. with me and many spending hours before the computer and getting lost often; this article provides gr8 insights.

    The times i get lost i find 20 different tabs open.
    thanx for the post

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  9. These advices remember me a lot of things I already read in “4 Hour a week” Book : 20/80 principle, and the fact of eliminating all disturbing activities.

    It’s important and I’m now far more productive, and I’ve got a lot of free time thanks to these advices.

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  10. @tristanowen, thanks… it should be fixed now.

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  11. Thanks for the visual embodiment of my bad habits. I now visualize habit fields as magnetic fields, with “work” and “play” substituting north and south. Mixing habit or magnetic fields results in a net loss of field strength (using my work laptop on my sofa reduces my relaxation and productivity potentials)

    PS: while writing this comment I checked twitter and my email

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  12. I found it to be very interesting reading. It almost seems that Jack proposes we take a back to basics approach akin to the maxim of “the right tool for the job”. In associating modes of comport with spaces and places, we are ensuring that what we do in a place or space, we do really well. This makes a lot of sense. I always sleep much better in my bed than my kitchen floor, or half-way down my stairs.

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  13. Thanks for a great article.  Unfortunately, I only have a single desktop PC, but applying your ideas just to browsers on this one PC I now have Firefox set up with just work-related links and have installed LeechBlock to stop access to Twitter, etc.  All my personal/leisure stuff I now do on Chrome.

    So far it’s working well :)

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  14. A very interesting article! The malleability of memory has always fascinated me, but I didn’t think of it like this – being able to use it to create more productive associations.

    Focus is such a problem these days. I often pick up my iPod Touch and just idly flick through the app pages, then put it down again! Now, that’s an unproductive habit field right there!

    i have written an article about it on my writing site if anyone wants to take a look. Feedback encouraged. http://www.getmewriting.com/techniques-and-tips/habitual-writing/

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