where the writers are
Help for Forging New Habits
Vintage postcard of Grant's Tomb

I’m trying a new system to kick myself into gear.  Last year, a friend wrote about HabitForge (www.habitforge.com), which is a free website where you register a goal and it sends you an email every day asking whether or not you achieved it.  Their thinking is that if you did anything faithfully for three weeks, you would have formed a new habit.  After that, the force of habit would carry your forward.

The only consequence if you miss a day is that the count resets to zero and you begin your 21 days again.

At the time Thorn told me about it, the idea sounded kind of dumb.  How useful a prod was an automated email every day?

Fast-forward:  I have a shoebox full of antique postcards that I have been meaning to catalog since the first of the year.  I read in The Happiness Project that big projects were less daunting if you chip away at them a little bit every day.  The key is the “every day” part.  I started off well, but once I missed a day, it was hard to get myself back to work on the project.  Other things competed for my attention and the cataloging became less of a goal.

Last week I remembered HabitForge and signed up to give it a try.  It still seems kind of silly, but I committed to cataloging for a half an hour a day.  As of today, I’ve put in about six hours.  I’ve passed the halfway point in the project.

The cataloging has taken on a momentum of its own.  Yesterday, I finished my half-hour, but I was in the middle of one of the postcard topics, so I continued to the end of it.  Then I started the next one.  It felt really satisfying to get the work done.

I hope to be able to finish this project before my 21 days are over.  After that, I want to tackle the even more daunting task of cataloging all my photographs.  I must have tens of thousands of them.  I want the catalog to be searchable via the computer so that I can track down a particular image whenever I need an illustration.

The version of HabitForge I’m using is free.  It only allows you to pick one goal at a time.  I can see, after summer vacation is out of the way, that it might be worth paying the yearly fee of $9.95 to set multiple goals, so I can focus on my organization and health goals simultaneously.  I think I’m becoming addicted to Habitforge.