Establishing new habits and learning to do things differently than we are used to is sometimes quite a challenge. We have so many other things to do and remember in addition to the new method or manner we had decided to implement.
In a place instead of at a time
But not to worry, the last years’ surge in technology development has left us with a wide array of new apps and web services that can assist us in establishing new habits. We could set an alarm on our phone that reminds us to do something new we wish to do at a certain time every day, but some habits are tied to a place rather than a specific time. Every time we arrive at a particular place, we want to remember doing something we recently decided we would do but still are unaccustomed to doing.
”Use the app!”
When I take the train to my clients, assignments and lectures throughout the country, I park the car on the long-term parking lot by the central station. Just recently it became possible to pay for the parking via a new app, which makes things a whole lot easier for me. Instead of paying for my parking time with my credit card and then scan the receipt before sending it to my accountant, I now receive the receipt as a PDF to my email and can therefore automate the flow from parking my car to making the receipt end up in by bookkeeping with the press of a single button!
I just have to remember to use the new app every time I park. This can be difficult since I have been getting my ticket in the same, manual way for years and now do it more or less automatically.
If … , then …
That is where the automating service IFTTT can be of assistance. If we have their mobile app IF (iOS, Android) installed, we can create a ”recipe” that starts (”if”) when we arrive at a certain location; such as driving into the long-term parking by the central station. What happens next (”then”) can for instance be that the IF-app reminds us to do what we are not yet used to doing via a push notification. I am using the notification-app Pushover (iOS, Android) be the voice reminding me to ”Use the parking-app!” instead of letting IF remind me, because it has the beautiful sound ”Steamboat” as alarm sound, which I really like.
When I get reminded by the app I actually feel inclined to follow its suggestion and do the process according to the new way, which to me means the app and the notification are doing a good job.
If you have a habit you wish to establish that concerns doing something special every time you are in a certain location, then try this:
- Get the IF-app (iOS, Android) and a free account on IFTTT.com.
- Create a recipe (IFTTT will help you do so) with Android Location or iOS Location as the trigger, and IF Notifications or Pushover as the action.
- When you arrive to the place in question, see for yourself how you react to the reminder you get.
- Did you act according to the new method or manner?
- Did you ignore the reminder and just did what you usually do? That might be because you have too many reminders set for other things, and it got lost amongst the rest. Try removing all other reminders that do not actually require you dropping what you are doing and switching activity when you get them — truth be told, they are more distracting than helpful.
- Refine, adjust and try applying it to another location-specific habit you want to establish.
If you use your phone to remind yourself to act according to new ways when that new habit is reliant on you being in a particular place or location, you will have to struggle less to remember all the things you have decided you want to do differently. Most people have so much to remember and do, and if we allow mobile apps to help us get our work done in the way we want to do it, our days will run smoother. Great effect with less effort — that is a win-win if you ask me!
What is your way?
What do you use the IF-app for? Tell me and other readers about your favorite recipe in a comment below.