Preparing for 2019

We should be happy with who we are, but we should not be content; we should always strive to better ourselves. Here’s how I will do better in 2019.

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Three productivity lessons from a black belt

Photo by my wife.

I’ve been practicing a martial art known as Shorinji Kempo since 2012. Shorinji Kempo puts an unusually heavy emphasis on philosophy, even for a Japanese martial art. At every grading, you have to turn in an essay on a given topic, as part of the exam. This goes even for children, from the age of ten.

The philosophy we are taught in Shorinji Kempo is applicable in every day life. I have used it myself, and so have my children (some of them also practice with me). In this article, I will give some examples.

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On the importance of your habit tracker

Evern since my vacation, my habit routines have suffered. I’ve been following the morning one, but the other ones – not so much. A lot of evenings I’ve simply forgotten all about it. This has made me realize just how important it is to remember to update your habit tracker, as outlined in Habit routines, ever time you’ve run through a routine. It serves as a powerful reminder about the upcoming ones.

Meditation for sceptics

A lot of people think that meditation isn’t for them, because they’ve heard it being described as some sort of spiritual or semi-religious practice. But I would say such a description is misleading; meditation, in its most basic form, is a method for improving your concentration. There is nothing mysterious about it. You practice concentrating, and as a result, you get better at it. As a byproduct, it might also help you calm down and relax. Sounds good? Yeah, I think so too – read on.

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How to get started when you don’t want to

Photo of 80's era Lego knights fighting on the wall of a yellow castle.
No Lego knights were injured during the writing of this article. It’s not like they wouldn’t have deserved it, though, especially the guy on the left – he’s a total douchebag.

Procrastination – we’ve all been there. There’s that one (or many!) intimidating task you really should do, but you really don’t want to. So here are some techniques that have helped me overcome this problem in the past.

  • Plan how to solve it
  • Divide and Conquer
  • Work on it for five minutes

I will go into detail about each of them below.

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Two steps forward, one step back

I’ve now been using Habit routines for about a month. Although I’ve mostly been following my routines, I’ve been a bit lax in updating my paper Habit routines tracker. That is, not unsurprisingly, a bad idea – just going through the routines is of course what’s most important, but updating your tracker helps reinforce the habit even further. So I’ve decided that from now on, I’ll put down the X’s every day, as soon as I’ve run through the routines.

So, has my routines been working?

When it comes to my morning routine, I’ve been very successful – I’ve gotten up on time every day. And since that means I’ve now successfully completed that routine every day for 20+ days, I’ve earned the right to add another habit to my mornings. I have a flash card app called Anki on my phone that I use for studying every day, so I decided to use that as an addition to my morning routine right after I wake up. I didn’t always remember this the first few days after I added it, so those days I put down as zeroes in my tracker, but the last few days I’ve been doing better.

My evening routine, however, hasn’t fared quite as well. After going to bed on time for 12 consecutive days, I broke my streak simply because I got lost in my phone one night and lost track of time. Initially, this felt as a disappointment, but then I realized that it wasn’t – it was the concept of Habit routines working. My evening routine isn’t well-established yet for me to add another habit to it, and me forgetting to go to bed on time was the proof of that. After all, the idea behind not adding more habits to a routine until you’ve completed it as-is successfully for 20 days straight is to make sure that you don’t ramp up with too many habits too quickly and end up feeling overwhelmed and giving up on the project all together. So, I’ll note this as a failure for me, but a success for the method.

First update

I’ve now been using Habit routines for about ten days to try it out – and so far so good, I must say. I started with two routines – a morning routine and an evening routine, each consisting of a single habit. It’s all about getting myself a regular sleep schedule.

To track my progress, I created a page for it in my Bullet Journal.


As you can see by the row of X’s, getting up on time (06:30, even on weekends) hasn’t been a problem. My streak is now up to 11 X’s, so if I can manage another nine without fail, I get to add another habit to my morning routine.

So, how has my evening routine fared? Well, not quite as successfully, but not too bad either.


I had an early failure on May 24th (the zero in the photo), because there was a really interesting movie on TV that I couldn’t tear myself away from. So I broke my streak after just two successes. Oh well. Then on May 26th and 31st, I didn’t go to be on time for reasons outside of my control. If you’ve read Habit routines, you may remember that those occasions don’t count as a failure – hence the dashes on those days. Since the dashes don’t count as a streak break, my streak on this habit now stands at five (counting all the X’s after the failure on the 24th).

So, now the whole page looks like this at the moment:


I’ve left some space between my morning and evening routines, in case I decide to add an after work routine here before I run out of paper and have to go to a new page.

We’ll see how this project turns out down the line, but so far it feels like it could work even in the long run. If this has piqued your interest, feel free to read the Habit routines page and follow along with your own habit routines, and post a comment about your progress!