So yesterday, I was planning to keep trying to enforce daily “check-outs” — the big sister to the essential morning check-in. Yesterday evening, I came up with a few ideas to structure my check-out and try to make it easier for me to incorporate it into a daily routine:
Checking Out – Structure
- Set a specific time every night.
- Associate it with an established part of my routine: brushing teeth or getting changed for bed.
- Set a timer.
- Ask myself some questions:
- What was the easiest part of keeping promises to myself today?
- What was the hardest?
- Can I foresee anything that will cause problems tomorrow — things like office lunches, after-work meetings, social engagements?
- Do I have a strategy to manage those potential hazards?
- Take it easy on myself: it’s not about having a perfect day, but knowing what went well and what went badly.
This works reasonably well.
I’m a bit surprised at how much this bit of structure drove my check-out last night… it gave me a goal (the questions) and a time limit (the timer), and I think tying it to a must-do part of my routine (I’m never not going to brush my teeth) is an extra kick in the pants to make sure I get it done.
Tying it to a structure habit like tooth-brushing or turning the lights off is also a good way to make checking out a habit in and of itself, instead of “another thing I gotta do” before crashing.
Structure vs. motivation
My instinct, from a steady diet of “rebel hero” culture, is that structure is anti-motivational. After some early flailings, I’m finding the opposite — a little structure is helping me out with my accountability, motivation and sobriety.