by Kathie England

Better Than Before – Day 4

The focus today is the Foundation for habits or what Gretchen Rubin refers to as the Pillars of Habits. As both an organizer coach and a professional organizer, I really connected with the four pillars she proposes:

  1. Sleep
  2. Move
  3. Eat and drink right
  4. Unclutter (especially this one)

Rubin chose these four as the foundation from the perspective that “it’s helpful to begin with habits that most directly strengthen self-control.” She also proposes that foundation habits make profound change possible. This sentiment is shared by Charles Duhigg in his book, The Power of Habit. (Rubin refers to a number of ideas I first read in Duhigg’s book a few years ago.) Duhigg discusses keystone habits, one habit leads to the creation of other habits. These other habits are the by-product of focus on the keystone habit.

SLEEP – I love that Rubin starts with sleep because hardly a day goes by that someone isn’t reporting on another danger of not getting enough sleep. Many studies talk about how sleep-deprived most Americans are. Lack of sleep helped motivate Arianna Huffington to write her book, Thrive. Huffington explains that lack of sleep was her “personal wake-up call.” She ended up with a broken cheekbone and a nasty gash over her eye caused by a fall that resulted from exhaustion and a lack of sleep.

I find that sleep is a huge challenge for many of my clients diagnosed with ADHD. Many of these individuals don’t get really engaged until late in the day so going to bed when you’re just getting warmed up doesn’t make sense.

Rubin talks about her realization that she could get to bed earlier if she started preparing for bed earlier. When she delayed going to bed until she was exhausted, she couldn’t face the prospect of bedtime rituals like washing her face and brushing her teeth. By starting to get ready for bed earlier, she discovered her self-control was not exhausted. Exhausting one’s self-control or willpower is a fascinating topic in Kelly McGonigal’s book, The Willpower Instinct.

Another reason many people say they don’t get enough sleep is that the end of the day is the only time they have for themselves. If they go to bed earlier, they have NO time for themselves. (This rationale is fertile territory to explore with a coach.) We need sleep and operating from constant exhaustion doesn’t seem like the quality of life most people want to live.

Tomorrow, I’ll discuss the next two foundations: Move and Eat and drink right. I think these foundations are so critical that I decided to spread their discussion over several days. Unclutter is going to get its own day.