Routine maintenance trumps new technology

I’ve noticed a trend the last few years around New Year’s time.

People seem to comment more about new technologies and apps in particular more than New Year’s Resolutions. In fact, talk about new apps seems to have just about replaced New Year’s Resolutions.

“I want to be more productive this year,” they say. ” What new apps are you using?”

I always think: the app is only as good as the person using it. The app will do you no good unless you use it and apply it to your life.

Better yet, figure out how to improve your life or do something more efficient next year. You don’t even need to download an app for that.

If you want to make improvements to your life, the best way to do so is to find a way to improve something about yourself. And in order to maintain that change, you need to develop habits and maintain them. I deal with one way to that in my semi-review of the book “The Power of Habit.”

(In that blog post, I advocate for focusing on one habit at a time. While I believe that is true, I have been thinking quite a bit since then about how to develop multiple micro-goals throughout the year and how to change habits throughout the year. I think we all have more than one thing to change about ourselves, so we need to figure out how to change more than one thing.)

The important focus should be on changing habits rather than simply setting goals. The reason for this is because we often have no idea whether the goals are achievable, and sometimes we have no idea about how to achieve even realistic goals.

Anthony Iannarino writes about maintaining meaningful habits in his book “The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need.”

While this book seems geared toward salespeople, it is actually helpful for all professions.

Iannarino writes:

“We humans are novelty-seeking creatures, attracted to anything that is new interesting, or exciting. In sales, it’s true that some new tools and ideas can revolutionize your efforts and produce exciting results. These are certainly worth looking into. However, much of your success depends on simple, routine maintenance — that is, keeping your nose to the grindstone.” (pg. 21).

Not only is this true of any profession, it’s true with any jobs (paid or unpaid) that we have. Our main focus should be on doing what is right on a daily basis, not on the goal itself. If you are a parent, you realize the amount of daily work you have. You don’t get to see the fulfillment of that immediately. You don’t start out having a baby just with a goal of getting them in college. You focus on cleaning diapers and feeding the baby at first on a daily basis.

Then you focus on getting them in car seats, feeding them, protecting them from harm, and teaching them. In other words, you focus on your own work and your own habits.

Focus on the daily habits and the daily maintenance. It’s certainly good to use technology to make yourself efficient. But do not avoid the “daily maintenance” of life that is required.

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