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Get Shit Done By Establishing Rituals

07/01/19

An easy way to accomplish new goals is to establish rituals in your day-to-day life that puts your mind into the state to do them. This technique is useful for those trying to pick up a new habit, hobby, or even someone trying to find the energy to work on a side project in their free time.

I've been trying to make myself a more efficient person over the past couple of years, and I've used this technique to start meditating, reading, and exercising almost daily.

What Is A Ritual?

A ritual is a series of actions or behaviors that you always do before doing something else. If you're into coffee, you probably drink a cup every morning when you wake up before tackling the day. If you run, you probably take a couple of minutes to stretch before. These things provide value, but they are also rituals that help to establish habits.

Priming

The benefit of establishing rituals, is that you prime yourself to do something next. Even if you feel as though you can't "find the time" or energy to do it. As an example, I'll be speaking in the context of working on that side project you've been putting off lately.

After a long day of work, the last thing that comes to mind is spending even more time working on something else. Sometimes, you just want to relax. And you should! However, you can create a habit out of working that pulls yourself through the hard times when you just don't have the motivation to.

You should engage in the same ritual everyday before working on that next feature for your side project. You'll eventually be dropped into a state where working feels like the most natural thing to do next. The goal is not to trick your mind per se, but to establish a strict routine that becomes hard to break in the future.

Example Rituals

The following are some rituals I practice that helped me start meditating and working on my side projects regularly. If you're trying to create new habits, I recommend only adopting one at a time. Once it becomes natural, then you are ready to introduce new rituals into your day-to-day life.

To Meditate

I meditate daily in the evenings. Previously, it was always hard for me to keep up this habit.

To combat this, I started a regimen of stretches that I do every night before I meditate. I unpack my yoga mat, lay it out in the same part of my room every day, and stretch for about 15 minutes. I immediately practice my meditation after, and have been doing this nearly everyday for the past year.

To Work

I like working on side projects in my free time. It helps me learn new things and keep my skills sharp. Plus, I just love programming as a hobby. However, after spending an entire day working it can be really hard to go home and work even more.

I started treating my running habit as a ritual that I do before I work on any side projects. Let's say that I run on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays after work. When I get back, I immediately take a shower and start working. By doing this everytime, I'm essentially turning the acts of running and showering into a primer for doing work.

You Already Have Daily Rituals

We are all creatures of habit. When you get home from work, what do you usually do today? Do you watch TV? Play some video games. Crack open a beer? These are rituals themselves, and if you want to make more efficient use of your time, you'll want to start replacing these with others.

Like anything else, repetition and consistency matters the most when trying to build new habits. Adopting rituals in your daily life will help you do the hard things that you previously thought you couldn't.