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Daily routines and controlling impulsive behaviors

Published 7/10/2015

Today I talk about the pros and cons to the restraint bias or impulsive behaviors. Tools like a daily routine help to refocus your impulses. I'll go over routines and other helpful tools to help steer those impulsive behaviors.

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Thanks to today's sponsor: Code School

Code School has recently launched a second course on SQL, The Sequel to SQL. In this course you'll learn the most important parts of the SQL language so you can create tables with constraints, use relationships, and write powerful join queries. Learn more at codeschool.com/developertea

I hope you've enjoyed this episode. Until next time,

Enjoy your tea.

Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Hey everyone and welcome to Developer Tea. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and today I'm going to be talking about more reasons why you need a daily routine. I've talked about routines in the past and I want to talk a little bit more about them today because I've found yet another reason why you should have a daily routine. If you listen to the show you know I'm pretty interested right now in biases, specifically cognitive biases. I found one that I'm doing a little bit of research on called restraint bias and I'll read this directly from Wikipedia again. Restraint bias is the tendency for people to overestimate their ability to control impulsive behavior. So impulsive behavior, if you don't know what that is, that's when you say that you want to do one thing and you really are committed to doing one thing but your impulsive behavior causes you to do something else. Perhaps buy something that you normally wouldn't buy even though you want to save money. People who do this chronically are called impulsive shoppers. They are the people who will go to the front of the store and they see something on the shelf that they hadn't planned to buy before and they decide to buy it on the spot. Now, there's nothing particularly wrong with impulsive decision making necessarily until it comes in conflict with your non-impulsive decision making. If you have decided that you want to save money and then you go to the front of the store and you make an impulsive decision that prevents you from saving money, well now you have a conflict. You have kind of an internal conflict and neither side is necessarily right but typically if you use your rational judgment and if you make an informed decision when you are not being impulsive and then you choose to do something against that decision that it is typically not desired, that is typically against what you actually truly want. This plays out in our day-to-day work, doesn't it? I have a difficult time focusing sometimes and as much as I don't want to do it, I find myself opening up Twitter or designer news or my email or something and that is not something that I cognitively truly want to be doing with my time. I truly want to be focusing but I'm falling victim to my impulses when I end up doing those things. I'm going to take a quick sponsor break and then I'm going to come back and give you two ways to avoid falling victim to your own impulses. Thanks so much to today's sponsor Code School. If you're building a web application, you're very likely going to need to know how to use SQL. The SQL is the language that communicates with your database. Code School recently launched a second course on SQL. It's titled The SQL to SQL. In this course you'll learn the most important parts of the SQL language so you can create tables with constraints, user relationships and write powerful join queries. With levels like aggregate functions, subqueries and normalization and relationships, this brand new course will help you become fluent in the most widely used database language on the web. You can learn more today at codeschool.com slash Developer Tea. Of course, as always, that link will be in the show notes. Go to codeschool.com slash Developer Tea. I've been talking about impulsive decision making and how it can be a negative thing in our day to day work. I know that it can be a negative thing for me, especially when I am attempting to gain some kind of focus. Now, I want to take some time to give you some tools, some ways of thinking that will help you fight impulsive decision making when you need to. Sometimes like I said previously, impulsive decisions are not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes the impulse to buy something, you have enough knowledge of your financial situation to adjust your financial situation. And so impulsive decisions are not always a bad thing. And in fact, this is especially true for relationships. The impulse to do something based on someone else's actions in response to their actions quite often is a positive way of handling relationships because no matter how much you plan, no matter how much you want for your routine to be upheld, relationships cause you to reconsider that routine on a constant basis. You have to be aware of other people's lives and other people's feelings and change and be adaptable to those situations. Of course, there is also a negative side to impulsive reactions in relationships as well. If you fly off the handle, for example, and get mad or yell at someone, there's obviously going to be negative consequences to that. So I want to give you tools to be able to understand your impulses and be able to fight against those when necessary. And the first one isn't surprising. It's kind of boring. It's another one of those relatively simple, but yet not easy things to do. And that is to create a routine and make it visible every single day. Make a routine and make your routine visible to you every single day. Now I'm going to add a little bit to this one as well. And I think this is truly essential to actually making a routine a success. And that is to simply record what you did and compare it to what you intended to do. This makes you come to terms with what you had planned to do and what you actually did. Whether you do this in a journal or if you simply take notes on your phone, maybe take a minute to take a retrospect of what you intended to do versus what you actually did. Now I would also say this is useful for development teams to do. If you are a part of a team, talk about what you plan to do over the next couple days and then look back at the previous couple of days and determine whether or not you actually accomplished what you intended to accomplish. This has a couple of effects. Number one is that when you verbalize or visualize the thing that you say you are going to do, you're making your promise concrete, especially if that promise is visible to others. We have a very difficult time as humans breaking from things that we have said we were going to do. This is why promises are such a strong aspect of our language. The idea of continuity is very important to us. Secondly, it gives us the opportunity to learn how good we are at predicting what we can do. If we are constantly seeing that we are overestimating or underestimating the amount of time it will take to do a given thing or if we are constantly seeing that we are procrastinating or we're falling victim to our impulses, then we have a better understanding of the reality of who we are. We have a better self-awareness of how well we are working and what we are doing with our time. The second tip I want to give you, and this one is kind of non-intuitive, but it is to simply find someone else who is trying to control their impulses and regularly tell each other that you each are good at controlling your impulses. Give each other the affirmation that the other person is good at controlling their impulses. The reason for this, and this is, like I said, it's not intuitive, but there has been a study done that says that when people are told that they have a high capacity for self-restraint, they believe it and they display higher levels of impulse control. I'm reading this on Wikipedia, but I did check to see that there's actually a reference for this. It's actually pretty incredible. When you are told that you are better at controlling your impulses, you become better at controlling your impulses. Perhaps this has something to do with that continuity that I referred to earlier, that you don't want to let down whatever that particular label is on your ability to control your impulses, you don't want to break that perspective that the other person has of you. When you do break that perspective, you actually experience a sense of failure rather than previously, when nobody had told you that you were good at controlling your impulses, whenever you had an impulsive moment, there wasn't a sense of failure. It was just a sense of impulse. I hope that this episode has helped you think about how to control your impulses. Make a routine, make it visible to yourself, if possible, make it visible to others, and measure yourself against what you said you were going to do versus what you actually did. Finally, find someone else that will affirm you and tell you how good you actually are at controlling your impulses. Of course, you do the same for them. Hopefully this will help you control your impulses in the future and help you gain a better sense of focus, a better sense of momentum and the work that you do, and help you continue to follow through with decisions that you make about your life. Thank you so much for listening to Developer Tea. I hope you enjoyed this episode. If you have not voted for Developer Teain the 16th Annual Net Awards, I'd really appreciate your vote. You can vote very simply. You just go to bitly. That's bit.ly. You can vote with your email address, with your Facebook account, or with your Twitter account. That vote would mean so much to me. Thanks so much and until next time, enjoy your tea.