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15 May

The phone helps you establish a new habit tied to a specific place


Datum: 2017-05-15 13:26

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.

Do this
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:

  1. Get the IF-app (iOS, Android) and a free account on IFTTT​.com.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Refine, adjust and try apply­ing it to anoth­er loca­tion-spe­cif­ic habit you want to establish.

Remem­ber less
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. 

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