As I reached back before heading to the gym, hairband in hand, to put my hair back in a ponytail, I realised how ingrained that habit was in me. The reason it was so clear? My hair is currently less than an inch long after I shaved it off for charity.
So without hair of even close to ponytail length, my habitual brain still decided it’d be best to tie it back so it didn’t flap in my eyes at the gym.
My habitual brain – for want of a moniker, let’s call Kirsty’s habitual brain “Herb” – is the same reason my fingers flick back to my mail application whenever I hear that happy little ding of “new mail”.
Herb’s also the reason I “oh so quietly” close the child gates on my stairs as I climb up and down regardless of whether my child is asleep or even in the house.
Herb’s the reason I still, every now and then, answer the phone without thinking with the greeting of a former workplace (sometimes right back to the very first real estate agency I ever worked at).
Herb’s the reason I drove a staff member home from a property, right to my house instead of back to the office – Herb switched onto auto pilot when he saw a certain street and before I knew it, I was home.
From what I can figure – this part of my brain “Herb” is actually a pretty good guy – for the most part. He helps cut out a lot of the clutter and allows me to focus on what needs doing. He does so much of my daily routine without me having to put much thought into it.
It’s only Herb’s small dark side I need to worry about. His dark side shows when I open a web browser and automatically feel a need to see my Facebook and Twitter feeds. He’s slightly more evil when I find myself unable to type a blog or letter in full without flicking back to check my emails mid-thought stream. Bugger – I just did it then.
While it’s great to have some of your life on auto pilot, Herb wastes a fair bit of my productive time as well. I can leave it as a happy trade off – I get some time or I lose some time or I can start to discipline Herb. I can turn the new mail notification sound off on my computer. Done – just now as easy as googling what I wanted to do, and while in there I changed my automatic mail download from every five minutes to every 30 (hey it’s a start – we can’t all be Tim Ferriss – Mr four-hour-work-week.
Do you need to discipline your habitual brain?
Kirsty Dunphey is the youngest ever Australian Telstra Young Business Woman of the Year, author of two books (her latest release is Retired at 27: If I Can do it Anyone Can) and a passionate entrepreneur who started her first business at age 15 and opened her own real estate agency at 21.
Now Kirsty does lots of fun things which you can read about here. Her favourite current projects are Elephant Property, a boutique property management agency, Baby Teresa, a baby clothing line that donates an outfit to a baby in need for each one they sell, and ReallySold, which helps real estate agents stop writing boring, uninteresting ads.