Benefitial habits/personal rules with very minimal tradeoffs?

post by Slapstick · 2024-05-13T06:06:14.471Z · LW · GW · No comments

This is a question post.


    5 Jonathan Moregård
    5 mad
    4 ChristianKl
    3 Brendan Long
    3 noggin-scratcher
    1 Morpheus
No comments

I'm looking for personal rules one might live by which adhere to a specific criteria outlined below, following an example.

I have a personal rule I've been following which is "No looking at screens in the bed where I sleep" I find this to be an extremely helpful and successful rule despite being someone who struggles to impose rules on myself.

I think one main reason it's successful for me is there aren't really any meaningful tradeoffs I'm making. If I'm feeling a need/compulsion to comfortably self soothe on my phone I can use another piece of furniture.

This rule doesn't ever result in bargaining with myself until I concede to breaking the rule, even at my lowest I'm easily appeased, just so long as it's in a slightly different location (even on the floor next to my bed).

It requires very little of my memory. It's simple enough to remember not to use screens in bed. Doesn't require remembering to actively do something. Doesn't require me to stop doing something I'm in the midst of (at least at this point). If I remember not to leave screens within reach of the bed, that's an added redundancy (but not essential).

I've found this extremely helpful for my sleep as well as for my ease of getting out of bed in the morning.

Basically the rule should have essentially no meaningful tradeoffs, while still being helpful.

Even something like "brushing teeth in the morning" would be pushing it according to these requirements. Willing myself to prioritize a couple minutes of unpleasant sensory experience brushing my teeth in the morning is a tradeoff I'm willing to make, but there's still lots of tradeoffs and requires equipment etc.

I'm looking for things that are easy to convince myself/remember to adhere to even when I'm at my very worst.

Ideally it would be relatively universal but I'd also be interested in habits/rules which are more conditional on other lifestyle choices, impediments, environments, etc.

Anyone feel free to answer.


answer by Jonathan Moregård · 2024-05-14T10:06:11.497Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Always carry a water bottle - keeping hydrated is easier, as is avoiding sugary drinks (due to reduced thirst impulses)

answer by mad · 2024-05-13T07:09:51.837Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Drink only water" is a good one. Depends if you think forgoing deliciousness, or other effects (alcohol, caffeine) counts as a tradeoff. 

Given you don't think forgoing the convenience/enjoyment of using your phone in bed counts as a tradeoff, I'm guessing this likely is the sort of thing you're looking for.

comment by melolay (charlottejana) · 2024-05-13T21:52:49.446Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

As for drinking enough water: my kitchen worktop is usually empty, except for an empty glass. My rule: I drink water as soon as I consciously notice the glass. It's okay to drink just a few sips, but I usually drink more. Overall, this rule makes me drink much more often than I used to.

comment by Slapstick · 2024-05-13T15:41:58.635Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Oh that's a good one! I mostly follow that one already although I do find value in some unsweetened teas and smoothies. I find personally that the immediate trade-offs to consuming alcohol are enough to ensure I only really drink when it's actually aligned with my interests.

Although I do have a rule for alcohol which is "don't consume any alcohol unless people who you're currently being social with are already drinking," I'm not sure exactly how much that rule has helped me because I've followed it all my life and I don't really like alcohol that much, but maybe that's partially because of the rule.

But yes I think the rule you gave is a really good one, especially when it comes to things like refined sugar. A sugar craving could be satisfied in other ways, so there's relatively small trade-offs in that sense, whereas it's very beneficial not to drink refined calories because it's so easy to consume so much that way while not bringing in any significant nutrition alongside it.


answer by ChristianKl · 2024-05-13T13:39:10.235Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Always close my door with the key in the lock."

It prevents me from closing the door without having my keys on me. 

answer by Brendan Long · 2024-05-13T20:44:54.210Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm not sure if this is quite what you're looking for, but one thing I do is store things I need for work and travel in consistent bags.

For example, my work laptop and my badge live in specific parts of a work-specific backpack, and I never the leave the badge anywhere except in the specific pocket of the backpack or attached to my belt.

For travel, I keep a couple things that are annoying to forget in my carry-on bag (travel-sized soap, conditioner, toothpaste, an un-opened toothbrush, a multi-country power-adapter and a spare swim suit). A battery and anti-nausea meds live in a specific backpack.

There's trade-offs with some of these (it costs money to have an extra swim suit and backpack -- if you don't already have them), but some are basically free: the anti-nausea meds and badge need to live somewhere, so why not in the backpack I'll always have on me in the situation where I need them?

answer by noggin-scratcher · 2024-05-13T09:14:32.874Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've had some success with a rule of "If you want a sugary snack that's fine, but you have to make a specific intentional trip to the cupboard for it, not just mindlessly/reflexively grab something while putting together another meal or passing by"

comment by Slapstick · 2024-05-13T15:55:45.123Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That one sounds good!

It wouldn't work for me personally because I have a pathological relationship with refined sugar so the only equilibrium which works for me is cutting it out entirely (which has been successful and rewarding though initially very difficult).


Replies from: erioire
comment by ErioirE (erioire) · 2024-05-13T17:25:01.564Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm in a similar situation. I have very little self control with sweets/candy if I have them available. I can far more easily stop myself from buying them in the first place.
If I allow myself to buy a bag of candy I've already lost and I will consume all of it in a matter of hours/days.

answer by Morpheus · 2024-05-13T21:51:20.810Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

“Sweets only on weekdays starting with S”. Depending on your lifestyle and preference for sweets, this can be easy to implement.

comment by Viliam · 2024-05-14T13:57:32.058Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

days starting with S

September 1st

September 2nd

September 3rd


Replies from: Morpheus
comment by Morpheus · 2024-05-14T14:06:47.184Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Weekdays ^^

No comments

Comments sorted by top scores.