All of us at some point have experienced the falling in and out of routine. We have experienced the joy of accomplishing a set routine and the frustration of inability to fall into a steady routine.
As a coach, I often help my clients develop new habits and routines for greater efficiency. After coaching several clients for new habits as well as engaging in building new habits myself, I observed a pattern in the process of forming new habits.
It’s none other than the universal golden ratio! Read on to find out more…
Few months ago, I realized I had to make certain changes in my routine to create more efficiency – time & energy wise.
I spent a Sunday afternoon with my journal and my calendar to make a new routine. I made a brand new routine chart depicting my ideal life. I was thrilled with the clarity I had to make my days exactly the way I wanted them to be. I jumped to execution of the plan from next morning. After all from that day “onwards” my routine was going to be perfect!
Things were going as per plan and days were” ideal”. Life happened – new clients came in, new social commitments showed up, seasonal flu made a visit and before I knew it I was drifting away from my plan (which was not the plan).
How could this happen? My plan was perfect and yet it was not working. Another Sunday afternoon reflection made me realize the critical element my plan was missing! – It was the review system!
I started with block of 10 days (dividing my month into 3 parts), I again, did well for first couple of days and then drifted away and then eventually not following the plan at all – I would re-start after 10 days for the next 10 days block. After couple of 10 days experiment, I realized 10 days was too long to get into a new plan and I ended up losing too much time before I could re-start.
I decided to work in block of 7 days (a well defined week), but results were pretty much the same with a difference that I was restarting 4 times a month rather than 3 times as mentioned earlier. So, I further reduced the block of days to 5 days from Monday to Friday (Weekdays or Workweek). It was much better than earlier but I was taking break for 2 days Saturday / Sunday so coming back on Monday became a problem after couple of weeks.
Finally, I decided to go to blocks of 3 days (Mon-Wed, Thu-Sat, Sunday – Holiday) and lucky me, it worked brilliantly.
I had found my answer in Fibonacci Series – the universal Golden Ratio
Fibonacci series (1, 1, 2,3,5,8…) is one of the most famous patterns and is presumed to be embedded in Universe – For example Human Body distribution is based on Fibonacci series and so on. But, two key important points from Fibonacci Series were:
- It starts small (with 1)
- Then it builds on itself (from third number onwards, all numbers are sum of preceding two numbers).
Here’s what struck me as to why a 3 day plan is optimal – Making a new plan everyday is an exhausting process. At the same time not too much time should be lost in case we need to restart when we slip!
It was wonderful to see how the Golden ratio helps me and my clients build new Habits and routines.
Here are the two steps to build effective habits and routines:
Step 1: Start Small: When we are trying to create to a new Habit its always better small. Our brain is like a Ship which can turn very slowly and therefore adding a small habit will not be overwhelming for the brain.
Step 2: Add new Habit and Repeat – Do not substitute the old habit, add a new one instead. As you get used to this technique, you can start adding bigger goals to the list.
Looks pretty simple isn’t it.
Magic Formula: 1 / 1 x 3 => One Habit at a Time in blocks of 3 Days
Try this out and do share your experience!