Ritual Building

ritual.jpgI came across an article on the Harvard Business Review website entitled “An 18-Minute Plan for starting Your Day.”

It’s an interesting take on the value of rituals, and how they build competence over time.

Here on the 2Time blog, I have written a great deal about the essential nature of habits, and how they are the building blocks of all time management systems.  In fact, someone who is skilled at developing new habits and shedding old ones is one who might have a tremendous skill at upgrading their time management skills whenever they want — the “Holy Grail” of Time Management 2.0.

I like the use of the word “ritual”, because it implies some degree of  conscious effort, whereas the word “habit” makes me think of something that might well be unconscious.

“Time Management Habits” might therefore be seen as one’s already existing repetitive actions, while the phase “Time Management Rituals” can be seen as a set of carefully crafted practices.

The article makes the point that experiments have shown that people who specify a time and a place to get something done are more likely to be successful.

In their book The Power of Full Engagement, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz describe a study in which a group of women agreed to do a breast self-exam during a period of 30 days. 100% of those who said where and when they were going to do it completed the exam. Only 53% of the others did.

In another study, drug addicts in withdrawal (can you find a more stressed-out population?) agreed to write an essay before 5 p.m. on a certain day. 80% of those who said when and where they would write the essay completed it. None of the others did.

This small example seems to be pointing out the difference between what I describe as White Belt, and Orange Belt Scheduling skills.  The Orange Belt approach is obviously more effective, or in other words it increases the odds that the action will actually take place.

Obviously, it takes some effort to turn the good ideas mentioned in the article into rituals, and then habits.  As I mentioned in a prior article, that may be the most difficult challenge of all.