I hate flossing. My dentist insists that I do it, and after each visit I promised to do better next time, but never followed through. I wanted to, but I lacked the discipline to do it.
Some two months ago, I decided to do it differently. Instead of using my willpower, I tricked myself into creating a habit. I grabbed a big piece of paper, made rows and columns, creating about 60 large squares.
Each day, after flossing, I would draw something in the square. At the beginning, it was just a cross. But my drawings became much more advanced, and something to look forward to. After 3 days, it was already hard to break the pattern, even though I still hated flossing.
This week I’m traveling, and I didn’t bring my piece of paper (which is completely filled, anyway). However, I did bring my dental floss, and just yesterday I noticed it has become a complete habit. I don’t think about it anymore, except when I forget it. Then I still do it.
I didn’t think of this trick myself, by the way. I once read about it on Lifehacker, as it’s also know as Seinfeld’s Productivity Secret. Over the next months, I’ll probably reuse it for other habits I’d like to instill.