Maintaining effective habits begins when we take notice of our daily actions and reactions to the world around us. Subconscious routines must first be conscious decisions fueled by dedicated practice. Of course, it’s very easy to go on autopilot. According to James Clear in chapter 4 of Atomic Habits, actively acknowledging our daily habits can be a huge step toward leading more productive lives. Often, it can be as simple as a brief verbal confirmation that you do in fact have your keys in hand before leaving your apartment. This is a method called pointing-and-calling which can be employed to reduce errors and boost efficiency all at once.
Never be ashamed to talk to yourself. Many people use the pointing-and-calling tactic without realizing it, talking through every item in their gym bag to ensure they haven’t forgotten anything for their workout or speaking aloud an itinerary as they embark on a busy day of travel. This calls awareness to those little mundane activities in order to avoid autopilot mishaps.
However, it can also be an intentional strategy. In chapter 4, Clear recommends creating a habits scorecard which is nothing more than a list of all the tasks you complete each and every day without fail. Everything from snoozing your alarm four times to that 2pm cup of tea which propels you through the end of your work day is a habit to be considered. Once you have your list you can then rate each of your habits as positive, negative or neutral habits. Positive habits are routines which encourage effective problem solving while negative habits tend to do the opposite. You can then use your list to pinpoint specific areas for improvement throughout your day. As stated in previous chapters, developing productive habits has nothing to do with overhauling your current routine and starting over. In this step you’re simply “getting yourself to acknowledge the need for action.” What’s on your habits scorecard?