quick thought

A new acronym for habit-building

One of the great things about the kind of job that I have is that I often have time to think and time to play – not video games or role-playing games, although I must have mentioned by now at least once that I like to do both of those – but to play in the sense of trying things out. Trying things out to see what happens. Being my own boss and doing the kinds of things that I do for work gives me a great degree of freedom.

Like this blog: I write when I want, I try to stick to a schedule (although, hello, it’s been a month or so since I posted!) and I write about things that interest me and hope that they interest you too.

Last week I was working with my good friend Dr Aimee Blackledge on a First Year Development Workshop. Aimee talked a little about habits, and this got me thinking, because I also knew that we were going to spend some time on the workshop introducing tools and ideas that are bound up in acronyms for shorthand. I wondered, was there a good little acronym just waiting to be discovered for habits?

I think there was! It hit me some time during the day and I shared it with the cohort of 24 postgraduate researchers, and got feedback quickly that this was a neat little tool for thinking about habits as agents of positive change.

Introducing SANE

Ever want to make a change in what you do but feel like things are too big? Set yourself life goals but find that they’re driving you crazy? Then you need SANE habits!

  • SMALL – a little thing that you’re going to do, not lots of things.
  • ADVANTAGEOUS – there are many bad habits, you need to do something which has a clear positive aim.
  • NEAT – set it up so that you can explain it in twenty words or less, or maybe even with three pictures. Nothing complicated!
  • EXTRA – you already have lots of good habits, so make this something new, something you haven’t been doing already.

Small, Advantageous, Neat, Extra = SANE! I shared this last Thursday as part of a short plenary session at the end of the day, and was really happy to see that people grokked it immediately. A few even mentioned it in the main course feedback as something that really helped.

If you want to make a change in what you do – write more often, read papers better, focus on your time management or productivity – think about how you might steer yourself with a SANE habit. Powerful, effective change doesn’t have to come from big initiatives or doing lots of new things. Don’t go crazy: think SANE! 😉

Thanks for reading!

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)

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