Make It Hard on Yourself

I've recently migrated this blog, and the older posts might not yet be satisfactorily cleaned up. Apologies for the temporary mess.

[This post originally appeared at ProfHacker.]

A lot of productivity advice, especially about technology, is about making things easier to do. For example, in the last few days at ProfHacker, George has asked about paperless promotion portfolios, Mark has shown us an easier Zotero workflow with Zotpad, Adeline has reviewed a geo-tagging journal, and I have written about hacking URLs for faster searches.

But recently I’m finding that I need to make some things harder on myself. It’s easy to fall into habits or routines, whether technological or otherwise, that keep you doing things that you wouldn’t choose to do if you thought about it rationally. But to get to the place where you’re making better decisions, you have to break the habit by making things harder on yourself. There is no point in having a shortcut to something that isn’t worth doing.

Here’s an example: Amazon has a patent on “1-Click” shopping. If you turn on the service, you can buy any of their products with one click of the mouse. Want to buy a book? One click and it shows up at your doorstep. That’s very convenient, and it can become very expensive. I’ve turned off 1-Click shopping.

Here are three things I’ve done to make it harder for me to do things I don’t really want to do:

What things do you do reflexively? What can you change to make them harder to do?