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Power of Habit not Apps

Photo used under CC License. Attribution Mads Bødker - http://www.flickr.com/photos/77485396@N00/32599728/in/photolist-3T5Lh-49JDS-5nrKo-6zws4-7SdDw-8XQs6-donyv-eecdu-eygET-eYZhr-gJn85-h2BAw-k787o-kVeSi-maEB1-Bfnkv-G2XPB-GZLVR-JMP5h-JVGwR-2G3r7G-2JEdXA-2Qbg8R-35PCKe-3cqoAt-3dq3n2-3geYAf-43U72s-4cG7sD-4cG7Dv-4cL77L-4cNP7t-4drjqQ-4sKtza-4t8mNM-4uTcXL-4ypffw-4JZZEz-4JZZGk-4NMuj9-4XyzUL-4ZfEnU-4ZfEsY-54xjKc-5i7j2m-5j4Fd1-5mADzR-5rD2nt-5wMuhx-5yDWFz-5VoreN

Photo used under CC License. Attribution Mads Bødker – http://goo.gl/5leqrs

If the school year is a like a road trip across the United States, this is the stage where you drove off and left the gas cap back in Zanesville, Ohio about an hour outside of Columbus. Nothing serious, but reality is sinking in. Grading begins, a meeting goes late, plans break down. One question may be is there an app for that? It’s an easy solution and one that may make you feel better in the moment, but will it work? Apps may help, but first you have to form the habit.

There are a number of apps, too many I’d say, for task management, reminders, and calendars. There are a couple of apps as well for habit tracking that mimic Jerry Seinfeld’s advice to chain, basically just keeping a calendar and marking off days. My experience with these apps is they sound great; I download it; use it for a few days, then feel mildly guilty for never using it again. Until there’s a reminder app to tell me to enter things into my task management app, I’m out of luck. What’s helped me the most was reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and learning about how habits work, what habits do for people, and how people can modify their behavior to create new habits or subvert old ones. Check out the video for some words from the author.

As we cruise through the academic year, what are some habits that help you manage your work / life balance? Have you tried adopting techniques from Radhika Nagpal’s post “The Awesomest 7-Year Postdoc or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Tenure-Track Faculty Life“? Or, is there a habit you’re looking to change?

Timothy A. Lepczyk

Tim is an instructional technologist and former librarian. On the side, he writes fiction and poetry, and publishes the magazine Scintilla. You can follow him on Twitter at @thirdcoast.

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