Every time I arrange a new interview, I feel thrilled. There’s always something new and interesting in each interview. Today, it’s the profession. I have been talking with CEOs, developers, designers, and students from around the world, and to my surprise comes A (we agreed to keep his name anonymous), an Associate Professor in Delhi with over 15 years of experience.
Let’s see how this professor leverages technology to battle with his endless procrastination.
Hi Alex, let’s talk history, shall we? Could you share about the early days when you first decided to form habits?
I struggle with an EPIC procrastination problem - I thus read books on procrastination, and classics, like getting things done and FIORE’s Now Habit. Then, the big one came out: Duhigg’s Power of Habits, which was really powerful (bought it as an audible audiobook).
I think it was Duhigg’s book that made me search the app store. I am pretty good at exercise, controlling my weight, and I live quite healthily, but I still chose to use the micro-habits idea, like getting up without snooze, or a daily diary entry, to raise habit awareness. It has not helped much with lessening my procrastination, but I think I am on the right track.
Since my career (a.k.a hobby, in my case) is related to writing, I constantly search for ways to improve my daily word count. So I encountered BOICE’s work on academic writing (daily word count as key) and read books like Daily Rituals: How Great Minds Make Time, Find Inspiration…
You work in an educational field. Why did you choose to use a habit app instead of, say, pen and paper?
The analysis the app allows for is just so much better - in my case, I really am a huge fan of Toggl, and pomodoro apps, then I think I should an app that turned habits into games … so I kept checking the app store until I found your app. Reviews of Habitify were good and the app is superb.
What has changed, improved most significantly after 10 years since you started forming habits?
I think my first big habit change occurred in 1999. I bought a color screen laptop, had an office desktop, and the internet at home and at work. I got lost reading newspapers every day for hours! It was the Freedom App that saved me from that tragic situation. For more than ten years (I had it on my old windows computers already) I use Freedom every single day. I switch it on all the time. In addition, I use Forest and keep my phone in a drawer. Gotta say those are one of the strongest habits.
Newspaper reading is down to 10-20 minutes a day, and I maybe spend less than an hour on youtube per week. So if you see me watch or read the news, it is meaningful and chosen consciously.
My strongest and best habit these days is: When I sit at my desktop, laptop, when I hold the iPad or iPhone, switching on Freedom is almost automatic, almost all the time.
Besides overindulgence on news, how about your health?
My weight is fine, but from time to time I put on 2-3 kilos needlessly. The awareness and consciousness the app Habitify creates are fantastic. I never had a big jump on the scale since Habitify is on my phone (If I see the weight going up, I immediately take control)
Also for alarm-snoozing, I see a change! My wake up time is getting more realistic, and if I cannot get up, I just add a full hour or two. So Habitify is working, even if I am lightyears away from using it like I used Freedom. But keep in mind, I started using freedom/similar apps/browser extensions around 2002 or so.
Since Habitify makes me more conscious and mindful, I think I delegate tasks a bit more quickly. But no change in my writing habits. (Sigh…)
What is the secret sauce for you to be so committed to your habits?
Groups, groups, groups (ie community).
Coaches, coaches, coaches.
One of my best experiences ever was the ACADEMIC LADDER, which I used for almost 18 months religiously to finish my Ph.D. thesis.
The problem is there is no offline mode and the software did not get updated recently. Also, their pricing is insane nowadays.
It would be lovely to have a group of 8-15 people for 6-12 months on Habitify, with short comments and encouragement. It probably should be habit specific. I think I paid for the academic writing block, which essentially was a daily feedback form, we all commented on each other, and each group had a coach who was totally committed to giving feedback on anything that happened.
That’s wonderful Alex. Thank you so much for a lot of recommendations!