This is the second post in a series all about how to build habits more easily. Check out the first post here.

In this post, and future posts on this topic, my goal is to share with you some strategies to help you build sticker habits, with less effort.

Habits are hard to build and they take time. Lots of time, and lots of practice.

And often when you’re not building a habit as fast as you want, you start blaming yourself for either a lack of willpower or a lack of motivation. But I’m going to share strategies that don’t rely heavily on willpower or motivation because those are both fleeting resources.

Not every strategy I share will work for you. All brains are different and you’ll resonate with some techniques and not others. And that’s OK. Take what works, or is likely to work, and ditch the rest. Experiment. Find out what works for you and double down on it.

That said, the first strategy I’m going to share is one that works well for most people.

What is this magic strategy? It’s the strategy of convenience and inconvenience.

At a base level, you want to remove friction from things you want to do more (habits you want to build) and add friction to things you want to avoid doing (habits you want to break).

As humans, we’re creatures of convenience. We like shortcuts. We want that mythical easy button.

The dual strategies of convenience and inconvenience capitalize on that truth.

In fact, I often refer to myself as a “very driven lazy person”!

This strategy is simple. Yes. But also very powerful. In fact, there was a study that showed that we eat significantly more candy when we can see it, and grab it without standing up than if the candy is a few feet away from it.

When something is easy, we do it more. When it’s more difficult, we do it less. That’s human nature.

So, how can you use this knowledge to your benefit, to strengthen good habits and weaken bad ones with a lot less effort? Let me give you a few examples:

  • Using convenience to build habits
    • Want to exercise more? If you’re trying to run in the mornings, set out your running clothes out before bed the night before so that they’re right there, ready to go as soon as you wake up.
    • Want to eat healthier? Put healthy snacks near you so that you’re more likely to grab something healthy than unhealthy. If carrot sticks are in the fridge ready to go, you’ll likely eat them. If you have nuts or fruit near your desk instead of candy, you’ll eat the nuts and fruit.
    • Want to stay on top of your task system? Make it convenient! Install the browser extension, set up the email, Slack, Alexa, Siri, etc. integrations. Add the app to the home screen of your phone. Make your task system the default tab in your browser.
  • Using inconvenience to break habits
    • Want to eat fewer sweets? Don’t buy them in the first place, or put them in a very high shelf in your kitchen.
    • Want to stop mindlessly scrolling? Remove the apps from your phone so that you have to login from the web. And don’t click the “keep me logged in” button.
    • Want to curb your spending? Don’t save your credit card info or turn on 1-click. Make it so that if you want to buy something, you need to take out your physical credit card to make it happen.
    • Want to attend fewer meetings? Require an agenda for any meeting you accept.

In the last post, we talked about the habit loop. You can think of the strategies of convenience of inconvenience as strategies that affect the “trigger”.

Have you used convenience or inconvenience to build or break a habit?

Let me know in the comments!