selfsourcing). It seems picking up habits can likewise be facilitated by transforming the desired behavior change into micro-habits.
According to B.J. Fogg (via an NPR report I listened to recently), there are three steps you should follow if you want to pick up a new habit:
- Small: Choose a habit to pick up that only take a few seconds to complete.
- Routine: Place this new micro-habit within an existing routine.
- Celebrate: Physically celebrate the completion of your new habit whenever you do it.
- Small: I decided I just needed to take a single sip of water,
- Routine: I decided to do this during breakfast in the morning, and
- Celebrate: Every morning after taking my first sip, I would do a little dance.
Note that I don’t really have to drink very much water as part of this routine. I just have to get a glass from the cabinet and fill it with enough water to take a sip. But, honestly, once I have made myself go through the effort of pouring myself the water and decided to dirty the dish, I find that I pretty much always drink the whole glass. When I get down to breakfast it is easy to tell myself that I just need to take a sip of water, and then once I have the glass it is easy to do the whole action.
I wonder if we might be able to likewise use small, easy-to-complete tasks to help people actually do large, hard-to-complete personal information tasks. For example, I often find it hard to start editing a paper draft sent to me by a colleague. There's a lot of text to read and synthesize, and getting started is overwhelming. But if I tell myself I’m just going to re-word the figure captions, I can get started with that, and I often find that this little task draws me into the larger task of editing the whole paper. Perhaps selfsourced microtasks could be used as a way to motivate people to start large tasks, and not just as a substitute for them.
J. Teevan, D.J. Liebling, and W. Lasecki. Selfsourcing Personal Tasks. CHI 2014 WiP.