How To Form a New Habit

When I attended a seminar on the One Thing by author Jay Papasan, he passed out a neat little cheat sheet. The topic? How to Form a new habit. They reported that someone did a study and found that that it takes much longer than most people think to form a habit. The popular misconception is that it takes as 30 days, and in some instances as little as 3 weeks to form a habit. For some people this is true. For most people however, this is far from true.

It turns out that someone did a study (I have no idea who – citation needed), and discovered that low and behold humans are all different! Well, different enough that one number does not describe our behavior. And if you think about it how could one number – one length of days – determine how everyone forms a new habit?

What the study revealed is that there is a range of days it takes people to form new habits. For a few it happened in as little as 17 days. For an equally small group it took 234 days! The average? 66

How to Form a New Habit: It Takes 66 days

For most of us, that is the sad truth. For most of us it takes 66 days to make a habit. So Mr. Papasan and his co-author Gary Keller kindly put a pdf file on their website called The one thing 66 Day Challenge. It combines the very famous Jerry Seinfeld “chain idea” with a set of 66 boxes.

If you want to form a new habit, then you need to do it for 66 days. Why the challenge? Because what they want you to do is to start checking off boxes. As you cross off each square, you start to form a chain. The trick is to start focusing on the chain. Encourage yourself not to break the chain.

The chain provides internal motivation, and it takes advantage of another principle. Kaizan, or the idea that small changes over time can lead to big results. As humans we are hard wired to love the home run, especially the grand slam. LOTS of wins in one big play. In real life however, (and I have seen this in baseball) you can often cause more damage by getting walks and singles. Small achievements consistently applied over time add up to big things.

This is the core idea behind the chain.

How to Form a New Habit: Our Brains Want Habits

It turns out, habit forming is natural. We mostly think of habits as unhealthy. But in the book “Smart Thinking” by Art Markman, Phd he shares that the human brain is built to save energy by forming habits. Thinking is hard work. Habits save time and energy. However, consciously building habits – that takes some effort.

How to Form a New Habit: My own Experience

My own experience with forming new habits is that I get about 16 to 18 days in then I run out of steam. I miss for a few days, then come back in a smaller burst, then miss a few more days, then a smaller burst, until finally there are a few scattered ‘X’ marks on my challenge sheet and 66 days have gone by.

A few habits have stuck with me – such as walking the dogs daily. I journal daily (with pen and paper). And my fitbit has been surprisingly effective in getting me to pack in 10,000 steps every day. When I did not have it, I cut corners. As soon as I got it back, the feedback motivated me to put in the time to hit my daily goal.

So in the grand scheme of things, and perhaps this is the true potential of the iWatch and other wearable tech – if we can get just the right kind of help to motivate us to create new habits that are healthy for us. My fitbit has motivated me to walk regularly and improve my health. But it can’t motivate me to put my keys and wallet in their home by the front entrance (Thank you Andrew Mellen). I am still barely 31 days into that new habit forming, and for the first – yep you guessed it – 17 or so days, I was diligent about putting my keys and wallet in their “home”. Now I find my keys and wallet in all sorts of places around the house and I dutifully walk them back to their home as soon as I catch them out of place, but I feel like I am losing focus on creating the new habit. I am not giving up, just working it.

How to Form a New Habit: Keep plugging

The real key here I believe is to keep after it. Despite the fact that our brains want to form new habits, they often have to reprogram old habits to vest the new behavior. And that will take some time and effort. Sustaining effort over long periods of time is easier if you have effective feedback systems. And as good as my fitbit is, the real motivator are my two dogs, Cookie and Addy. No electronimagical device can compare to the guilt they will lay on me if I don’t walk them in the morning. In fact, even as I write this they are coming up under my arm and flicking my hand with their nose to get me away from the computer.


I have been walking them every morning (at least 6 days a week) for nearly 3 years now.

Habit formed.

Unstuffing Your Life – My Progress Report

I made a post earlier about the audio book, Unstuff your life by Andrew J Mellen. As far as Audiobooks go Andrew is a highly entertaining speaker and falls into my favorite category of audiobook. Super smart author narrates their own material so you feel like you are having this amazing one on one conversation and they are talking just to you enthusiastically sharing what they know.

Andrew even makes it playful and interacts with the listener. An adult version of Blues Clue’s.

My first project applying the book was to tackle my storage closet. I wish I had the before image, but really, who takes pictures of overcrowded junk? Let’s just say when I started I could not even walk into the closet. But when I was finished (it took a weekend), not only could you walk in, but there are actually empty shelves!

UnStuff Your Life: Storage Closet

UnStuff Your Life: Empty Shelves

Unstuff Your Life: The Rules to Clean All Your Living Spaces.

After listening to the audiobook, I have come to distill the book down to three core rules.

  1. The One Home Rule
  2. The Like with Like Rule
  3. The Frozen Rule (Let it Go)

Andrew publishes his three core rules on his website, so I don’t feel like I am giving anything away from the book. Besides, I could not possibly capture his energy and enthusiasm in a blog post. The man is worth listening too.

The One Home rule and Like with Like

Scott Adams wrote about how important it is to have Systems for Success, not just goals. Andrew Mellen’s book is just that, a system and the core of the system are the twin rules, One home for everything, and like with like. The idea is that you live in one home, so should your stuff. There should be one, and only one place your things live. When they are not in use, they belong in that home. It’s corollary however, is that similar things belong together. Why is this profound? Because when one kind of object can be in many places, that means it can be in every kind of place. It is intrinsically lost.

There is another brain science reason why this is very powerful. In his book Smart Thinking, cognitive scientist Art Markman points out that similar memories compete with one another and more importantly suppress one another during the recall process. When your brain remembers one place to find an object, that process makes it harder to remember other places to look!

Keeping like objects together reduces the chances of memory suppression.

Blue Masking Tape.

If you had asked me before I read this book, how many roles of blue masking tape were in my house I would have said, “One, possibly two, in fact I should probably stop at the store on my way home and pick up another role.”

UnStuff Your Life: Like with Like

After sorting my storage closet, and gathering my masking tape with all of their brethren I discovered eight roles of tape. Yes. Eight.

Apparently, I really like blue masking tape.

The Frozen Rule

The key to unclutter however is what I call the “Frozen Rule”. The hit song, “Let it Go” has been sort of my mantra since I started this process. In chapter one of the book, Mr. Mellen pleads with the listener to go through the process of getting clear about his or her values. In short, if I wanted to unstuff my life, I had to get clear about my values. It seemed like a waste of time until I did it. That key piece of information gives you a foundation for knowing what is valuable in your life and what is not.

If you know what you value, then you can measure every object you have surrounded yourself with and decide if it means anything to you. I see lots of calls for minimalism, I study stoicism, and austerity always sounds like a virtue. In my experience however, I was shocked by how many things I had – if not collected at least gathered into my life that I did not care about.

The Rocks

When I hike if I see a cool rock I pick it up. During this process of unstuffing, I started to go through my rocks. Two things jumped out at me. I was shocked at how many rocks I just flat out could not identify. No idea where they came from, or what they meant. Secondly, I was shocked at where they all were. On my desk, in drawers, in the garage, in my closet (apparently I needed rocks to keep my clothes company) even in the bathroom. Don’t ask what I was thinking, I don’t know.

I point that out because these were free. Not the product of consumerism. Just things I had “gathered”. They didn’t qualify as mementos, because I had no memory to go with them. And yet I held onto them and filled my space with them. The first lesson I started to learn is that when something has no meaning, there is no reason to hold on to it.

Hence my rule: Let it go.

Do I still have any rocks? Yes. A few. Ones I exactly know where they came from and what they mean. The collection if you can call it that is down to exactly three.

I still have a long way to go, but for the last two weeks my desk at home and at work has been clear, and I can find my wallet, my car keys, and my phone within 30 seconds of looking for them every time. I mean every time.

Malcome Gladwell in his book Tipping Point, points out that your environment can have a huge impact on your behavior. One small, but significant way to change your environment is to “Unstuff it”. I need to get better at before and after pictures, but so far, I can see some of the value in freeing up some space by “unstuffing it”.

Clunkdroid- Why does Android Still Feel Unfinished?

Is it Just Me?  Or does Android still feel unfinished?

Recently I had to switch to owning a connected a google device for one simple reason.  I needed my Google Calendar when I was on the road.  I don't know what's going on or why, but my Apple Calendar will not sync with my Google Calendar and we pretty much run our whole company on Google Apps (gmail, calendar, docs). 

While  I could use the google iOS apps, for reasons unknown I am required to login every, single, time.  This is a huge problem for me as I use a complex password with lots of symbols.  Try typing a 16 character (4×4) password with symbols and case changes on an iOS keyboard.  It's PAINFUL to impossible.

Therefore, I went to the AT&T store and they tried a couple of things, but nothing seemed to produce the consistent sync I need.  This has been made worse given a recent change in the way we operate.  Our new task management process relies heavily on Calendar scheduling.  So not having my schedule has become a very real problem.

The most cost effective mobile solution for me is the new Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 eight inch tablet.  While the Galaxy Note phone looks appealing, the cost is more than twice as much ($700 instead of $300) and the monthly charge is was < 1/4 – about $15 a month to add to our business plan instead of $65 for a new phone line.  So here I sit and type. 

It works.  Mostly.

Well, the number one critical feature I needed works like a Champ.  I can get my Google calendar but with one caveat.  The Samsung application does not fully sync with google either.  So the default calendar from Samsung is almost completely useless.  Changes made to the default calendar app do not propegate through the Calendar ecosystem.

Despite that, I now have reliable email and Calendar for the road.  But what about my other critical apps?

The quality of Apps for iOS really seems to outshine Android.  I have not one, but 3 decent Markdown editors on my iPad.  My favorite right now is Editorial because of the power it has to format your markdown into HTML you can paste into web apps like WordPress and so on.  ByWord is another classic editor that is extremely powerful.  What I really like about both of them is

  • They format the markdown in the text.
  • They have lots of options like setting the font size, or saving to dropbox.

These features really make these applications easier to use.  The formatting is like syntax highlighting.  It's eye-candy, does not change the actual content but helps you catch mistakes in real time. 

The options like setting font sizes let older folks like me concerned with eye strain pick a comfortable font.  The linking to DropBox gives me confidence I can get my files later from another device.

On Android?  Not only are there very few markdown editors, not a single editor offers all three of these features.  Writely Comes close, but they don't support indocument formatting.  Writer supports in document formatting, however you are stuck with their "font for 18 year olds", and no linking to an external service.

Given the sheer number of Android devices in the world it is shocking that more apps are not available.

Device Compatibility

So I have my shiny new state of the art Android device, but I kid you not, two apps I went to download right away had warnings that the apps were not compatible with my device.  Seriously?

In another review, the app maker complained that they could not garunatee their app would work in the future.  They already supported 1,200 devices.  With all the changes they had no idea if they would or could support what ever new things came along.


Is Android a Viable Market for Independent Develpers?

The other challenge with Android devices is that because they are cheap, so are many of the clients.  Apple users pay a lot.  They expect to.  But this also means they will pay for quality.  I have never seen one, but I would love to see a comparison if Android software developers actually can make any money.  The numbers are huge so I would assume so, but I don't understand why there are so few quality apps that maximize the latest hardware.  Even Microsoft seems to understand that when you release new tech there should be marquee apps to give you reasons to buy the newer hardware. 

This seems lost in the Android space.  My Samsung tablet has an absolutely amazing screen.  And yet most of the games play at a very low resolution and look terrible.  That is hardly what I would think either Samsung or Google would want – their latest tech looking bad.  But I don't know why that is.  I think I take it for granted what Apple has built.

On the surface, they are so similar, but just below that shallow surface is a depth of features and quality that only seems to exist in the Apple-sphere. 

I can go on, the list of applications that are available on my iOS and work flawlessly that I can find no equivalent of on the Android.  There are a few notable exceptions, mostly business and productivity apps like Everynote, and Todoist, but where is Solebon the outstanding solitaire game for iOS?  Or how about Textastic?  And while it gets slammed more often than not, I would love to have Safari on my Samsung.  I long for a browser that does not freeze during page loads or jump around constantly as it rerenders the page adverts during loads.

Stanford Baseball

Stanford is an amazing place to visit and thia weekend Ryan and I travelled to Palo Alto to visit the Cardinal High School baseball camp.

Stanford Baseball Camp Impressions

So the first thing we noticed when we arrived and walked the campus is the pristine state of everything.  The color schemes, the landscaping, nary a blade of glass was out of place nor a spot of dirt appeared on any building.  Stanford is Disney quality presentation in education.  This seems consistent with Palo Alto’s understated wealth.  No SUVs and Big Trucks here – it’s Teslas and McLarens.  It is hard to comprehend the scale of wealth in this tiny community.

Perhaps this puts it in perspective for a Nationally ranked school that just won the Presidents cup for top athletic program in the country for 20 straight years (1994 to 2014), they only admit 1 in 20 applicants.  The total underclass population is just 7,000 compared to ASU’s 98,000.  And yet the campus feels larger, better maintained and everything about the place feels absolutely top notch.

Stanford leaves you with the impression that this is what excellence looks and feels like.  Palo Alto reminds you that the world will pay top dollar for excellence. 

Sunken Diamond

The Sunken Diamond is among the most beautiful baseball facilities I have been in.  Klein field is intimate and understated but don’t let the trees fool you, there are top notch facilities tucked into this park like campus just out of sight.  The coaches here had no problem deploying 260 ball players to fields, and cages around the campus.   What is more they kept them busy.

The Camp

This is a very interesting camp because of the kinds of players it attracts.  Actually, it’s also about the kinds of coaches it attracts.  More than 40 college coaches help with the camp and every ivy league school except Yale is present. 


I actually was able to ask the coach from Harvard how the “Call Me Maybe” Effected their program.  He explained that it was a bit of a headache for his staff because they played that song everywhere they went.  A group of seniors and juniors scripted the video and put it online and it went viral.  The University and Athletic department loved the exposure it generated, however the rival schools had fun with it too.

Big and Talented

Coach Stots, the former head coach for Stanford Baseball for nearly 4 decades opened the camp with an entertaining and energetic speach.  He pointed out that of the 260 ball players – 11% play college at a D1 level.  Of those, only 6% are drafted into the minors.  Of those, only 3% play ONE DAY on the pros.  Getting a college education from baseball is a fantastic opportunity and well worth it.

And yet, I believe a camp like this sorts for the players that are most likely to attend a D1 school and play.  And wow are these kids big.  Most of them are in the six foot one to six foot two range.  There are a slug of kids over six three and a very few below six foot (guess what?  They are wicked fast and they can hit).  But this is what division one ball players look like.  Big, fast, and talented. 

According to Coach Stots there are two kinds of recruit.  Talent and Technique.  Talent, six foot four.  Hits the ball over the fence with a flick of the wrist, throws the ball 100 miles per hour.  There are very few of those.  The rest are technique.  They have some talent.  They have been well coached, and these coaches are looking for players who can fit their program. 

Travel Log Day 2: Part 2 – The Champion


Blogging on the road is harder than it looks. Well, it is for me. There are a couple of things that made this challenging.

  1. Mixing iPhone and Camera images can be cumbersome and tricky.
  2. RAW (the image format) sounds great in principle. In practice, it doubles the number of images you have to deal with and gobbles up your storage.
  3. It’s hard to have a rhythm when you travel.
  4. If you spend all of your time on your keyboard you might miss the thing you came to see.

So having said all of there, here’s the skinny.

Matt is the 2014 Pitch Hit and Run 13 & 14 National Champion

How about that? It was a close contest. Andy from North Dakota actually hit 4 pitches while Matt only hit 3. After that Matt did what he has always done and just focused on the things he can control.

After the pitching they went to hitting. Andy had a few nice hits off the Tee, but they were pretty far off the center line.

If Matt was going to make up ground, he would have to do it in the hitting. Each pitch is worth 75 points for a maximum total of (6 x 75) 450 points.

Hitting, however is open ended. It is double your distance. The record is a whopping 365 feet – held by a 12 year old believe it or not! That is a 730 point value. More than many kids total score.

Matt’s first hit was a line drive to second base. Not a great start. His second hit was much better, about 275 but thirty feet left of the tape. His last hit was the championship shot. Everyone oohed and ahed when he hit it. I would later find out that it was 294 feet, four inches off the tape. Suddenly Matt was right back in it.

The final challenge was running and both Matt and Andy put in times very close to 7 seconds. The question was, how did they balance out? Was 4 pitches more valuable than Matt’s long hit?

In the end, Matt’s hit made the difference. He was crowned National Champion with a score of 1226.

Matt is named Champion
Matt is Named Champion

Later Matt told me that none of the kids did as well at National as they did at home. There were a couple of reasons for that. First, they have travelled, there is a lot going and it’s a daunting being there. The same thing happened to Ryan’s group.

But, at the end of the day the real award was shagging fly balls in the outfield during the home run derby.

Matt Shagging Fly Balls
Matt Shagging Fly Balls

Matt was out there when Geancarlo Stanton hit his epic blast ¾ of the way up the deck in left field. It was awesome from the seats, I can’t imagine what they looked like from the ground.

I could not be more proud of Matthew. He put in the work, and he earned it.

Photo Stream

If you want to see all 177 photos (integrated from my phone and my camera) as well as the picture of both boys with their trophies, check out my iCloud Pitch Hit and Run 2014 PhotoStream

Travel Log Day 2 – Home Run Derby Day

8AM Breakfast of Champions

Today started early. 8:00 AM central time. But it started great. We got to go to the MLB special invitee brunch with mascots from around MLB.


10AM Fanfest

The kids got to participate in a skills camp with hall of famers Dave Winfield and Andre Dawson. Then we move on to the next activity.


Batting Practice

This is right up Matt’s ally. Batting practice.


The guy tending the machine had better watch out when the 14 year olds get in the cage.


The dads were way more excited than the kids when pitching legend Rollie Fingers showed up to sign autographs.


USA Baseball in the Desert

USA Baseball

This week out in Peoria, Glendale, and Goodyear Arizona, USA Baseball takes advantage of the amazing facilities provided by the Cactus League – Arizona's marque, spring training league. At professional baseball facilities used by the LA Dodgers, Chicago White Sox, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, Cleveland Indians, and Cincinnati Reds 64 teams from around the west coast compete to win a National Championship.

But lets be honest, there are LOTS of youth Baseball National Championships. If you can afford the fee, there are tournaments that will reward you with a nice trophy. The real attraction out here is:

  1. The level of competition
  2. The opportunity to be selected to the national team.

Lots of tournaments boast having scouts. But only at the USA Baseball tournament might a scout pull you aside and ask you if you have a passport. The poster child for being selected is Bryce Harper who in 2008 played for the San Diego Show. He went on to play for two National teams.

While, it is exciting to think of being selected, it is a staggeringly rare occurrence. It feels like Big Foot sightings. He might really be out there but none has seen one. And so the real value of a tournament like this goes back to the first reason, competition.

To play at a high level, you need to play at a high level. The potential of a National Team selection draws the best players on the best teams. And that makes for some great competition. The strange thing about baseball is that there appears to be no better way to get better at Baseball than to play better and better competition.

So despite the heat, and the astronomical odds against being selected, they come and compete in the heat. If you want to see the future of baseball, it is here, in the desert, playing for the dream.

Dreams do come true

Write after i wrote this one of the players in Matts team was pulled aside by two scouts and told he was “in the pool” of players being considered for the national team.

Players, parents,
and coaches congratulated the young man. Being recognized for your performance is always a great feeling.


Pitch Hit and Run Finalist Matt Novis Headed to MLB All star game!

Today Matt novis was announced as a National finalist for the Pitch Hit And Run Competition on MLB Tonight. Matt is headed for Minnesota!

That is TWO Novis boys who have qualified to attend All Star games!


Under Armor Airplane Shoe – ready for take off

I want this shoe. Who cares if it is practical or not!
Went shopping for new shoes with Matt and we saw this Under Armor display. now Under Armor has some pretty crazy shoes. In fact show designs have become an exercise in the exotic.

I once heard John Lassiter say, “If you have a crazy fabric, make something conventional. If you have some conventional fabric, make something crazy with it. You want to give people something to relate to. When you make a crazy design out of crazy materials people don't know how to connect to it.”

With that in mind we saw some CRAZY fun designs today.

Dont these look like they are Duck Tape?

Continue reading Under Armor Airplane Shoe – ready for take off

Flooding the Desert

<h1>We live in a desert – so lets FLOOD!</h1>

<p>I grew up in Michigan. In Michigan we have lots of water. To find water all you have to do is scratch the ground and it bubbles up. In school they told me that Michigan used to be a swamp. But apparently we cut down all the trees for the lumber industry and that dried it all out. I don&#39;t know if it was true, but I learned the word &ldquo;bog&rdquo; in Michigan and have not had occasion to use it since leaving. </p>

<p>Why am I telling you this? Because in Michigan if you see 6&quot; of water rushing across your yard something is terribly, terribly wrong. In Arizona however, that happens about once every two weeks if you live in certain parts of the Phoenix Metro area. It reminds me of Frank Herberts book &ldquo;Dune&rdquo;. In the books people fight it out on a desert world for &ldquo;spice&rdquo; and water is nearly as scarce as this rare substance called &ldquo;spice&rdquo;. Where do they get the spice? By drowning giant worms in&hellip; water.</p>

<p>Apparently creating floods in a desert is not a new idea. Never the less, to our dogs (who can&#39;t read&hellip; yet), they think the bi-weekly laking of our back yard is the greatest thing ever.</p>

Addy Loves The Backyard Lake