Just in time for the next project month, I finished setting up my elastic habits. Here’s a good video explanation of Elastic Habits. Here are the official guides. I made a custom version of the tracker and a template for a habits poster. The tracker is tailored to my 28-day project months just to keep myself on a uniform schedule. I printed the tracker and a poster filled in with my current habits and put them on the magnetic whiteboard in my bedroom.
For habits I’m starting with sleep, housekeeping, and projects. Later I’ll add or switch to other important life activities such as exercise, but at the moment I see myself as being in self-rehabilitation mode, and these are the habits that feel both doable and impactful.
Sleep is interesting because I can’t really scale the habit levels by sleep time, since I’m aiming for 8 hours every night. Instead I’m scaling my preparation for sleep. The Mini habit is falling asleep anywhere (such as on the sofa) in time for an 8-hour sleep (or within an hour of getting home). The Plus level is being ready for an 8-hour sleep in bed with my nighttime medication done. The Elite level is sleeping on time with my whole night routine done.
I’m rethinking my goals for reading my long print books. I spent a lot of time reading on my day off on Monday, but it reminded me that reading takes a lot of time, and I don’t know what’s a realistic daily page count, especially when I often miss days (like most of last week) and have to catch up if I’m trying to keep a schedule. So for now I’m just going to see how reading fits into whatever routine my chosen elastic habits create and not worry about deadlines for finishing these books.
February’s project is my finances. My goals are to settle on some financial software, update my budget, and start at least my emergency fund investment. Hopefully my new elastic habits will help me make faster progress on this project than I made on the setup of those habits.
Melanie Mitchell’s Complexity: A Guided Tour does just what it says on the tin. My attention was turned to this topic by Robert Flood’s Rethinking the Fifth Discipline, in which he appeals to complexity as a corrective to the top-down solutions to systemic problems Peter Senge recommends in The Fifth Discipline. In my view any approach that goes further in grappling with the world’s messiness is a step in the right direction, so I was intrigued. It hasn’t been easy to find a good overview of this field, but Mitchell’s looked promising.
As the book progressed I found out why it might be hard to find good intros: The story she tells is of a newish science trying to find its footing, not even sure how to define itself. The book is fairly personal, and I was intrigued to find that Mitchell is part of the Sante Fe Institute and that she studied under Douglas Hofstadter, who was the one who turned me on to cognitive science. In the end I did feel I’d been guided through the highlights of complexity science, so as usual with these books I now have many starting points for research.
I was relieved to see a peaceful transfer of power. I was also gratified to see the new administration hit the ground running, addressing so many talking points right away that the pundits I listen to have commented on for so long. My political attention might wane a bit now that I feel the adults are in charge, but watching politics has become another habit for me, so I’ll have an eye on it for the foreseeable future. And in case you’re interested, here’s my growing Twitter list of extremism researchers.