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The ultimate guide to creating a habits inventory


Why inventory your habits?

“I don’t know why I can’t lose weight.”
“I always have a hard time getting out of bed for some reason.”
“I never seem to be able to get all my work done.”
Does that sound familiar? If you are struggling with an area of your life but aren’t sure what the actual problem is – look at your habits. After all at least 40% of everything you do is a habit. Every habit begins with a reminder or a trigger. If you can identify the reminder you can change the routine. This is where a habits inventory comes in. Learn how habits work.

The average day

To know where to start with a habits inventory we can use information from the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics American Time Use Survey.
Over the years the ATUS has found that on average a typical adult:
  • Spends 8 hours and 27 minutes sleeping.
  • Spends 4 hours and 44 minutes on leisure activities and sports.
  • Spends 4 hours and 27 minutes doing work and work related activities.
  • Spends 1 hour and 38 minutes on household activities.
  • Spends 1 hour and 11 minutes eating and drinking.
  • Spends 47 minutes dressing and grooming.
  • Spends 41 minutes purchasing goods and services.
  • Spends 36 minutes on educational activities.
  • Spends 32 minutes caring for household members.
If you want to learn more, take a look at Flowing Data.

Habits inventory

Almost everything we do in a typical day will fall in to one of the following categories:
  • Sleeping.
  • Personal care.
  • Caring for others.
  • Travel.
  • Work and work related.
  • Education.
  • Eating and drinking.
  • Consumer purchases.
  • Household activities.
  • Recreation.
  • Religious and spiritual.
Every routine starts with a reminder. The most common ones are:
  • Time of day.
  • Existing habit.
  • Visual cue.
Go through each category and write down your own reminders.

SLEEPING

What time do you go to bed?
What prompts you to go to bed?
What do you do before you go to bed?
What do you do in bed?
What wakes you up in the morning?
What do you do after you are woken up?
What is the result of all this?

PERSONAL CARE

When do you get washed?
What do you do when you get washed?
When do you clean your teeth?
When do you get dressed to go out of the house?
What is the impact of this?

CARING FOR OTHERS

When do you help care for others during the day?
What do you do to care for them?
What is the impact on you of this?

TRAVEL

How do you travel?
When do you travel?
Where do you travel?
What is the cost of travelling?

WORK AND WORK RELATED

When do you get to work?
What do you do when you get to work?
How do you get your work?
What do you do when you get your work?
When do you do your work?
What is the result of this?

EDUCATION

When do you get to school?
What do you do when you get to school?
How do you get your assignments?
What do you do when you get your assignments?
When do you do your assignments?
What is the result of this?

EATING AND DRINKING

When do you eat breakfast?
What do you eat for breakfast?
Where do you eat breakfast?
When do you snack?
What do you eat for snack?
Where do you eat snack?
When do you eat lunch?
What do you eat for lunch?
Where do you eat lunch?
When do you eat dinner?
What do you eat for dinner?
Where do you eat dinner?
When do you eat after dinner?
What do you eat for after dinner?
Where do you eat after dinner?
What is the result of all this?

CONSUMER PURCHASES

What do you buy regularly?
Where do you buy it?
How do you pay for it?
How much do you spend?

HOUSEHOLD ACTIVITIES

When you you do housework?
How often do you do housework?
What is the impact?

RECREATION

When do you recreate?
How long do you recreate for?
Who do you recreate with?
What is the impact of this?

RELIGIOUS AND SPIRITUAL

When do you do religious\spiritual act ivies?
What is the result?

Now what?

Now you have all your reminders you can work backwards and determine why you struggle in a particular area? Do you have trouble getting up in the morning because you stay up too late watching Netflix? In which case create a habit like setting a “bedtime alarm” at 10pm to remind you to go to bed.


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