The idea that there is a probational period required for ingraining habits is intriguing & comforting. I understand ‘habit’ as a repeated activity which requires far less activation energy to perform than activities that have not been integrated into a person’s daily/weekly life (intuition tells me beyond this timescale, repeated activities cease to be habits but become ‘traditions’).Perhaps being accountable Of course this activation energy can even become negative, in the case of some of the more malignant habits, i.e. addictions. I’m thinking about this because of the positive/productive habits I’ve been trying to cultivate, and which of these have been successfully implemented into my life and which haven’t.
The common wisdom (and some research) tells us that it takes around 2 months for a repeated activity to set in as habit. Anecdotal evidence is hazy on this. I feel it’s all too easy to get set back into old ways, even after the 2 month prescription. But I haven’t really formalised and recorded activities aside from entries on this blog. From now I think I’ll try and hold myself accountable to some of the habits I want to form, by noting when I actually do each thing and when/how often.
I’m going to list them sequentially by how established I feel each activity is in my life, and consider my motivations for embarking upon them, and also, whether or not I’ve been successful in converting them into bonafide ‘habits’.
(1) First of all, naturally, this blog [once a week]
I think it’s self-evident for undertakings like these that you are very aware when you’ve been lazy. Having a deadline sort of forces you to start thinking about needing to do something in advance, and when that deadline passes you feel a little guilty that you’ve let yourself down, and that guilt is usually enough to make you sit down and do it (it’s enough for me at least).
(2) Exercise [once a week]
For me it’s going to the gym and using the free weights, more so machines now since I’ve moved here. My motivations for going to the gym have oscillated between vanity and general health/wellbeing over the 6 or so years I’ve been a gym-goer. In between sometimes months-long respites, I’ve been rather consistent with this activity. However, after starting this PhD this habit has become a once-a-week, I attribute this to a lack of energy and convenience. I believe both these problems can be solved. But the issue has taken a backseat to more pressing matters. On the whole, I’ve readjusted my priorities to focus on my research, I still take my health seriously, but perhaps without so much of the vigour that I used to. Of course, it it becomes more convenient and I fix my diet, I think I’d like to bump this habit up in frequency.
(3) Reading [several times a week]
Not so much an intentionally cultivated habit per-say but rather a habit in the traditional sense, I think reading is something people just for into, so long as they have an interesting book at hand. I generally read before going to bed. This is probably where I could do with changing things up, maybe I should set some time aside for reading (and taking notes, as I will soon describe).
(4) Maintaining a ‘Index Rerum’ [whenever I read, weekly?]
Basically, note taking on books I read and transferring notes or quotes to index cards.
I’ve been slacking on this, and I think it never really picked up steam. This is something I picked up from productivity guru cum life coach blogger Ryan Holliday and a habit that I suspect underlies much of the brilliance of writers and interesting people. It might be wise also to set some time aside to compile from the books I’ve read or am reading, the sentences I’ve underlined using the system in the about link. I really have found much value in this activity, I’d like start taking it more seriously. It could be a great first trial in my experiment in formalising habit formation. I’ll think about this.
(5) Music (playing guitar/piano/singing etc) [whenever]
This one has been more or less been under the whims of my mood. I see little urgency in this activity, but I’ve always wanted to learn jazz piano properly. It might be nice to also try this out too.
(6) Learning Hebrew [daily]
Now this is something I feel could benefit greatly through an accountability system. I might make a log of practice sessions/time spent on each and also create a document where I can put lists of vocabulary I want to learn. I’ll also get back on duolingo. Now that Hebrew classes have finished for the semester, I have to motivate myself to get some practice in.
Anyhow, I think that’s all for now. I’ll keep thinking about how to achieve these goals and also think of the best way to record everything and keep myself accountable for the two months it’s supposed to take to form a habit. It’s a nice little experiment, I think I’ll start in November when I return from my planned secondment to Paris. I’ll explain what I’m planning to do there in the next entry.
A lot of transfections and FACS work this week. I’m trying to redo the CRISPR-KO after I decided that the cell line I had succeeded on was no longer trustworthy (due to a mycoplasma contamination). I may revisit this cell line and try to treat them again with antibiotics after sub-cloning on a bigger plate. But I want to see if I can make a new cell line in the meantime.
Everything is now prepared for the ChIP-seq I’ve been planning. I will try and do this next week. It’s going to be a lot of work, the protocol is three days long and requires a lot of effort and attention, I’ll need to be super focussed. After this experiment I have a little bit of a reprieve from lab work. I can finish up this project I need to complete or one of my courses and also rewrite the draft of the paper that, if all goes well with the ChIP-seq, I hope I can submit it at the end of the year.