Listening to podcasts has always been an on/off affair for me.
That was until:
I built a habit of listening to podcast episodes every morning without having to summon a mountain of motivation every day.
In this post, I’ll talk about why and how I started listening to podcast episodes every single morning and how it became an automated process.
Let’s start with:
Why I wanted to build this habit
Listening to podcast episodes or even audiobook chapters were in my long-term self-improvement goals for some time.
In the past, I had tried to dedicate time out of my daily routine for podcasts sessions, but that quickly went out the window.
It was motivating at first, but then I missed a day. One day became two, and before I knew it, I was not listening to podcasts anymore.
Sitting down for an hour or so, just listening to podcasts gave me anxiety. It felt like that I wasn’t utilising my time.
I could do something better with this time rather than just listening to someone talk.
After giving up on podcasts for probably the ninth time, I decided I give it one last shot after reading Atomic Habits by James Clear.
Inspired by the ideas discussed in the book, I decided to try:
Bundling my new podcast habit with something I do every day
One of the first tasks in my morning routine is to make tea.
Making tea every morning is an activity that I have been doing for almost a year now — without fail.
Firstly, because I love herbal tea. Secondly, making tea every morning gives me an immediate satisfaction of completing a task, and start my day with some positive boost.
Making tea isn’t rocket science.
It’s repeating the same process every single day. After a week or so, the process becomes automated.
It becomes a task that I can do without paying too much attention.
Alas, I had found the perfect existing habit to bundle with a new one.
And that’s what I did:
I started listening to a podcast episode every time I went into the kitchen to make tea.
For the first few days, I needed remembering to put on my earphones, and play a podcast episode right before I stepped into the kitchen.
I even missed a couple of days in the beginning. I needed to set up a reminder.
To help me remember, I used a regular to-do list app like Things.
What I did was to set a to-do for each day at 6:30 AM titled:
“Listen to a podcast episode”.
I usually start my morning routine at around 7 AM, so, having the reminder set at 6:30 AM meant that I didn’t miss it.
This is what my reminder looked like:
After about a week, I didn’t need reminding anymore. The habit had started forming.
A week after that, I had cemented my new habit into my brain.
For me, making tea became:
Listen to a podcast episode when I make tea in the morning.
I can think of a couple of reasons:
Why this habit-building technique worked for me
Right on top of my head:
- No extra time needed out of my routine. I didn’t need to block a chunk of time on my calendar to listen to podcasts. I reused the passive time of one habit with this new one.
- Automatic trigger. No need to remember listening to podcasts. I do it every time I make tea. And when do I make tea? Every single morning.
Also, quick tip:
One of the best ways of building a new habit is to make it easy to do. If your habit requires a ton of motivation every day, no matter how many habit tracking apps you use, you’ll never make a habit.
Now, let me show you:
How to use the bundling technique to build habits of your own
Follow these steps to bundle a habit you want to build, with one that you already follow:
- Pick a why. After identifying a new habit that you want to engrave into your mind, think about why you want this habit. What change will this habit bring to your life? Having this answer will serve as an intrinsic motivation until the habit becomes automated.
- Identify something you already do, which doesn’t require your full attention. If an activity involves a lot of brainpower, it’s not the right candidate for habit bundling. You’ll end up ruining your existing habit as well. Choose something that you can do as a routine, like making tea or washing dishes.
- Set reminders for the first 7–10 days. Use a to-do list app, or a piece of paper, or your calendar. Doesn’t matter. What matters is that you get reminded to bundle the habit you’re trying to build, every time you start with your existing habit. If ten days isn’t enough for you, set to twenty. However long you need. Everyone has different needs.
- Follow the activity until it becomes a habit. Building a habit is just telling your brain to remember doing some work regularly. Assist your mind for the first few days, and the activity will get programmed to your mind for the long run. The task will be automated.
It’s time to get your hands dirty
You have got the motivation. You have got the steps to start building a new habit.
What’s stopping you?
Start now, and believe in the process.