This article is an excerpt from the book Atomic Level Habits.
John Henry Patterson was born in Dayton, Ohio, in 1844. He spent his childhood helping his parents on a family farm, and worked full-time at his father’s sawmill. After studying at Dartmouth College, Patterson returned to Ohio and opened a small shop for miners.
This seemed to promise excellent prospects, the competition was small, and the store was always filled with customers. However, the Patterson store regularly turned out to be unprofitable.
In the end, Patterson understood the reason for this: his staff stole.
In the mid-1800s, employee theft was a common problem. Receipts were kept in an open box, and they could easily be faked or simply thrown away.There were no video cameras to monitor employees, and there were no programs to track transactions. If you didn’t stick up constantly behind the backs of your employees or didn’t make all the sales yourself, it’s hard to prevent theft
While Patterson was pondering his predicament, he stumbled upon an advertisement for a new invention called "The Unapproved Cashier" from Ritty. Designed by Dayton’s resident James Ritty, the design was the first cash register. After each sale the car automatically locked cash and receipts. Patterson bought two devices for fifty dollars each.
Thefts by employees in his shop disappeared overnight. Over the next six months, Patterson’s business ended up losing money and grew to a profit of $ 5,000 — more than $ 100,000 at today's prices.
Patterson was so impressed with the car that he changed the scope of his work. He bought the rights to the invention from Ritti and opened the “National company of cash registers”. Ten years later, the company had more than a thousand employees and was on the way to becoming one of the most successful enterprises in America.
The best way to change your habits
The advantage of the cash register was that the automation of the process made the theft almost impossible. Instead of trying to re-educate his staff, Patterson used the technique to make honest behavior automatic.
There is an important lesson in this story that we can apply to behavior and all habits. The best way to deal with bad habits is to make them impossible. And the best way to acquire good habits is to use automation so that you no longer think about it.
As a rule, when people say that something needs to be done automatically, people think of hardware or software. And, of course, this is a great way to automate the habit. You can save money due to automatic transfers from your salary. You can limit the viewing of social networks using website blocker.
With the help of technology, those actions that were once difficult and annoying can be made easy and painless. This is the most reliable and effective way to ensure correct behavior.
But there are also many ways to “automate” your future decisions that are not necessarily related to technology.
Small actions that block good habits
One of the most practical ways to bring good habits to automatism is to search for options that require not much effort, but over time give an impressive result.
I am delighted that these small actions benefit me again and again. Recently, I told readers about my favorite tricks that made my good habits permanent.
Here are some of them:
Use small plates to reduce calories.
remove the tv from your bedroom.
Remove games and social networking apps from your smartphone.
Concentration of attention:
Keep your phone in Do Not Disturb mode at all times.
get a dog
buy high-quality shoes, it will help you avoid back pain.
Call your service providers (cable TV, electricity, etc.) and ask to transfer you to a lower rate.
These one-time actions will not require much effort, but they will provide you with a good sleep, a healthy diet, increased productivity, saving money and, as a result, will improve your whole life.
Positive aspect of automation
Mathematician and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead wrote: "Civilization is developing, and the number of operations that we can perform without thinking about it is growing."
Today, technology and automation can take on more and more tasks. Grocery delivery frees you from having to go shopping. With the help of the Internet you can get medical advice without leaving your home. The intrauterine device allows you to not worry about unwanted pregnancy.
Every action that we delegate to technology frees up time and energy for a new stage of growth. When you automate everything in your life that you can, you can spend your mental energy on solving those problems that machines have not yet learned how to cope with.
It is especially useful to automate those actions that we perform too rarely for them to become a habit.These are the actions that you do once a month or once a year - for example, reviewing your investment portfolio - it will be useful for this to use the “reminder” technology.
The reverse side of automation
Of course, the power of technology can work against us.
Viewing mailings becomes a habit, because it takes effort to take your eyes off the screen. Efforts are required to move to the next message, while Netflix or YouTube launch all new videos automatically. At the same time, all that is required of you is to keep your eyes open.
Technologies often provide us with a level of comfort that takes into account all our petty whims and wishes. Feeling hungry, you can get groceries right at your own door. With the slightest hint of boredom, you can go wandering around the vast expanses of social networks.
When the effort required to fulfill our desires becomes virtually nil, we get used to live impulsively. The disadvantage of automation is that we get used to easily move from solving one simple task to another, without wasting time on doing more difficult, but ultimately more useful work.
Personally, during idle time, I am constantly drawn to look at social networks. If I get bored for just a split second, my hands reach for the phone. These minor distractions can easily be attributed to a “short break,” but over time they can accumulate and become a serious problem. Constant desire “just for a minute” to distract myself may prevent me from doing something useful. (And I’m not the only one in this. On average, people spend more than two hours on social networks a day. What could have been done during these additional 600 hours a year?)
During the year I was writing my book, I experimented with a new time management strategy. Every Monday, my assistant reset passwords on all my social media accounts that I had on each device. All week I worked without being distracted. On Friday, she sent me new passwords. I had the whole weekend to enjoy the news in the networks, and on Monday morning she did it again. (If you have no helpers, team up with a friend or family member and periodically reset each other's passwords.)
One of the biggest surprises for me was how quickly I adapted.
Already during the first week of life without social networks, I realized that for me there is no need to look into the messages as often as I do. And I definitely didn't need to do this every day. It turned out that it was so easy that it quickly became natural. As soon as my bad habit became inaccessible, I discovered that I had a desire to work on more significant tasks. After I removed the "mental candy" from my table, it became easier for me to choose "healthy food."
Where to begin
In order for automation to work for the benefit, it is necessary that it make efficiencies inevitable, and bad ones impossible. This is the most reliable way to predict your future behavior, without relying on willpower at any given moment.
Using strategic decisions and technologies, you can create an environment of inevitability - a space where good habits will become not just the result you hope to get, but one that is practically guaranteed.
Especially for readers of my blog Muz4in.Net
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