More about habits – Going Paperless

The last couple of days have been interesting for their lack of plan.  Not a habit I like.  Aside from the fact that I want to post regularly, I, also, want to stay on top of our budget.  But a life long habit of mine is to organize my bills around a once a month schedule.  Lately though, since I am the company book keeper and we have two companies, the corp for concessions and the sole proprietorship for the real estate, plus I also handle T’s and my monthly bills, I have been running into timing problems, especially as we have gone more and more paperless.

On the one hand the paperless path is quite good.  The bills are deducted directly from the correct account and as each account is backed up by its own savings account there is rarely a problem with funds being short.  But that being said, we have six checking accounts to keep straight and the bills are not all set up to come due together.  So going paperless means that I have to add another habit to the process of doing the bills.  Though I am not writing checks as often, I need to remember to enter the electronic debits into each check book’s register.  I have already developed the habit of checking the accounts online to verify when and which checks are in.  This, of course, is a holdover from the days when with just one account I would find myself overdrawn.  That bad habit took years to overcome.

But then I find that that is the comforting thing about developing good habits, they bring with them a sense of calm and direction.  T always seems amazed that she can now ask me any question about the state of our accounts and I can give her an answer immediately. 

The underlying reason for all this habit forming is really simple though.  A set of good and regular habits lets things get done in an orderly fashion and leaves me more time for myself.  My good friend and dance guru, Skippy Blair, says that in order to learn something you first have to hear it at least seven times.  But forming a habit takes more than that.  First of all sometimes the habit forms by itself.  You are doing a task repeatedly.  Most human beings tend to refine a repeated action until it fits them well.  Unconscious habits, behavior in response to something you don’t even understand as a stimulus, are common to us all.

You discover you are wearing a combination of green colors several times a week.  What is it about the color that has caused this habit?  You might never know more than the realization that it’s become a habit and it’s comforting.  Or at work, you are given a task that is new and as you are figuring it out, the things that work to get it done become a habit. You might never know you have formed the habit until you try to show or explain to someone else how to do the task.

Consciously forming a habit is different.  It involves repetition and recognition.  Doing the same thing exactly when you are thinking about it can be difficult but it is accomplishable.  That’s where the recognition comes in.  Which is funny when you think about it because once it becomes a habit, it’s something you do without thinking.

One last thing I have learned about habits.  Replacing them or breaking them is really difficult so it has become my habit to form new habits instead.  And I am always open to new ways to learn the old tricks, so any suggestions would be appreciated.

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