Tinier Than a DOTby Naomi Fukuda on August 2, 2012
This week I joined B.J. Fogg’s Tiny Habits program to practice small behavior change and to learn about how micro-actions can be the basis for lasting habits. Distinct from our small practices at Saatchi & Saatchi S that manifest in the form of a DOT or a PSP, Fogg encourages truly tiny habits that take less than 30 seconds to complete. The other key part of the practice is to do the new habit right after an existing behavior that acts as a trigger. The tiny action tied to the existing habit creates an environment where new behaviors can become truly reflexive. If you have to decide to do it, Fogg says, it’s not a habit.
Beginning on Monday, I chose to practice tiny habits in three areas: gratitude, health and creativity. Already I have had to adjust my tiny habits to align with trigger behaviors that make more sense. For example, one of my original behaviors was After I get up from my desk to use the restroom, I fill my water bottle. Simple, perhaps, but not tiny enough! In order to achieve the small victory of completing this habit, I would have to remember to get my water bottle out, bring it with me part of the way to the restroom, pick it up from the front table on the way back, and then fill it. So my update today is: After I sit down at my desk in the morning, I get out my water bottle and put it next to my computer. Tiny.
As I learn how to scale down one habit, likewise I have to resist the urge to go bigger. Until the new tiny habit becomes a reflex, adding onto it will make it less sticky.
You may be thinking that three days of tiny actions does not a habit make and right you are – but only because I have had to adjust my tiny practices to fit existing behaviors. I don’t think it will take long for the habit of taking out my water bottle in the morning to become as automatic as taking off my coat and getting my coffee.
Beyond the one week program, I plan to keep at it for the next month at least. I’ll work to maintain the behaviors through anomalies like travel and a shifting schedule. I am eager to build on my tiny habits and write up my learnings as I try different triggers and behaviors. Stay tuned!
Note: If you’re interested in experimenting with behavioral change through tiny habits, you can sign up for a future session at tinyhabits.com. It’s not affiliated with Saatchi & Saatchi S – we are merely fans of the work.