How to Build Stronger Habits with a Solid Habit Framework and Teamup (Part 2)

Create a routine that is simple, enjoyable, and provides accountability to build a strong habit.

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

To build stronger habits, you need a solid framework: 
1. Cues
2. Rewards
3. Routine

In part 1, we looked at how to create cues and rewards that help you stay on track and motivated with your habits.

Now let’s look at how to create the third part of the habit framework: the routine that brings it all together.

What’s a Habit-Building Routine?

The routine portion of your framework is simple: it’s just the process you follow, from cue to reward.

Charles Duhigg suggests writing it out as a simple statement. Here’s an example:

When I finish eating lunch (cue), I’ll go for a 20-minute walk (action) and then check social media (reward).

Tip: You can create a routine that’s fairly complex, but for building a habit, it’s best to stay simple.

3 Keys for a Habit-Building Routine

There are three important things to remember about a habit-building routine.

  • First, the simpler you make it, the more likely you are to stick to it.
  • Second, the more you enjoy the process, the faster you’ll see progress.
  • Third, the more help you have, the more consistent you’ll be.

So the three keys for a routine that actually helps you build a strong habit are simplicity, enjoyment, and accountability.

Key 1: Keep It Simple

A routine that’s simple means that you don’t have to make any decisions while doing it. That’s important, because every decision you make depletes your willpower.

Be specific in your routine.

An exact starting time is better than a vague “sometime in the morning” timed cue. An exact action — “write for ten minutes” or “create one sketch” — is better than a vague one (like “be creative”).

Being specific eliminates options and keeps you from arguing with yourself over exactly how and when to complete your habit.

How to Do It

Make sure that your cue is as exact as possible. Schedule it for an exact time on your calendar, or — if your cue is not time-based — title and describe it precisely.

Describe the action precisely, set an exact time, and even use custom fields.

Make sure that your action is specific, too. If you’re building a habit that includes multiple or alternating actions, you can use the customizable event fields to designate which one to do.

Create a custom field and the different options for completing your habit.

Key 2: Make It Enjoyable

The reward you set for your habit are a big part of making it enjoyable, at first. But the goal is to build a habit that you enjoy for its own sake: both the process of doing the habit, and the intrinsic value it brings you.

When you’re still establishing the habit, though, be consistent with giving yourself that reward.

Doing so builds a strong, positive association that will help you on those days when you’re tired, distracted, and unmotivated.

How to Do It

You can make the process of completing the habit — the actual action you take — more enjoyable by making it easier.

Look for ways to reduce friction. The less you have to do during the habit routine, the better; so do as much preparation ahead of time as you can. This can be as simple as setting out your work-out gear, or as involved as prepping healthy lunches for yourself every weekend.

Use your calendar to schedule the tasks you need to do to prep for your habit.

Set a time and make a plan to do the prep for your habit.

You can also gather information and inspiration to help you. For example, you could upload a list of writing prompts to help you complete your daily writing habit. Link to the work-out routines you want to follow for the week. Or upload quotes, stories, and images that inspire you to stick with it.

Key 3: Be Accountable

Being accountable to some other person or group is a huge help in habit-building success. Social motivation — even when self-induced — is powerful.

We talked a little about social rewards and accountability in part 1. Since peer pressure exists — and it doesn’t seem like we ever quite grow out of it — why not use social pressure to help yourself grow, positively?

You can set up accountability with a family member, a close friend, a mentor, a business partner, or an interest group.

Tip: It can be extra helpful to find someone who has experience in the habit you’re building. That way you get a little insight along with the accountability.

How to Do It

Once you’ve set up your habit calendar, simply create a link to share it. Go to Settings > Sharing, then click on the New Link button. Choose the calendars to share and the settings you’d like.

You can choose a different setting for each calendar you share, if needed.

Or you could embed your calendar in your website, or create a link to share an event as a webpage, if you want to share it with a more public group of readers, fans, or followers:

From the event, choose the “Share” menu, then “As page.”

This can be a cool way to share progress on a project that others are interested in, as well. You can also start a group for friends who are also interested in building strong habits.

It could be the same habit or it could be different habits: the power of working together to establish positive habits is common ground enough.

Shared encouragement and accountability helps everyone succeed.

Building strong habits takes work and focus, but ultimately, those habits will make your life much easier. The truth is that we’re mostly creatures of habit, anyway. With a little conscious effort, we can choose better habits for ourselves, and reap the benefits for a long time.

Annie Mueller is a writer, writing teacher, and mom of four. Efficiency makes Annie happy.