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Where habits come in

Every morning, when I hear my alarm go off, I make a decision on whether to wake up or to snooze the alarm. When I open the refrigerator, I decide what to have for breakfast. When I look at all the notifications on my phone, I decide which ones to act on and I decide what my response should be. When I look at a picture on Instagram, I decide whether to just keep scrolling or close the app or like the picture. When I open my wardrobe, I decide what to wear for the day.

On average, we all make about 35,000 such decisions in a day. That's the equivalent of making a decision every two seconds.

Our will power is not as much "will power" as it is "won't power".

Everything that we encounter throughout the day from the ads we watch to the conversations we have to the weather outside has an impact on the decisions we make. Nearly all of this impact is subconscious and we are constantly guided in the making of certain decisions.

The way we exercise will power is by deciding to veto some of these decisions.

When we are making 35,000 decisions a day, we are also vetoing an equal or greater number of decisions each day. And that wears us down as the day progresses.

This is where habits come in.

What habits do is they take away this decision making process. They reduce the exercise of our will power as well as they reduce the number of decisions we need to make.

When I wake up, I have a schedule for the day that dictates what I do at any given time. I have a schedule that dictates when I check my email and respond to calls. I don't have any notifications on my devices. My menu for every meal is pre-determined by a randomizer. The clothes I wear every day are pre-determined by a randomizer. The amount of time I spend doing any task is pre-determined during my weekly planning.

These are all my habits.

A habit, as defined in the dictionary, is a routine of behavior that is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously.

And when I have designed my habits, I will not exercise any will power in vetoing the decisions that result from my habits.

And all of this mental energy that is saved from making (and vetoing) trivial decisions can be put to more productive use. 

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