– Habits form routines and routines make life easier;
– Life is easier because your brain is free from making trivial decisions!
– Habits free you from trivial decisions so you can focus on important jobs;
– Forming good habits improves your life quality and work productivity.
I sometimes work overseas for research, training and consulting projects. Very often, I stay at the same hotel if I visit the city the second time.
Once I was bound for a training job in SE Asia and the co-ordinator booked a hotel for me; the same hotel I stayed the previous year. When replying his email about hotel booking and special requirements, I said: “Please book Room 1005 for me.” The co-ordinator was surprised and asked what’s special about that room. I said: “Nothing special. It’s only because I stayed in that room for two weeks last year.”
There is really nothing special for that room, then why did I asked for the same room? There is a strong reason why I do so.
When I travel, my daily routines are broken. I miss my morning runs, my weekday cycling, my weekend ocean swim and lazy Sunday breakfast with my fellow Ironmen. I also need to develop new routines when I travel because I live in a different city and sleep in a different room with different furnitures. Perhaps this is why people feel homesick.
When your daily routines are broken, your brain will quickly form new routines to help you; often subconsciously. For my case, this includes finding the way to walk to the training venue in a foreign city, eating different local foods, dealing with different people and doing my job as a training instructor. From the view of my brain, these all involve ‘decision making’ and these tasks will make my brain ‘tired‘. This is perhaps why travellers find themselves losing orientation in a foreign city. If I spend a lot of energy on making these decisions, then my work performance will suffer.
By staying at the same hotel at the same room, I can ‘invoke’ my memory and past routines that are associated with this particular ‘room’. So, upon arrival at the hotel, I know exactly how to get to the training venue, where the gym is and where the hotel restaurant is. It’s like living in a ‘second home’ while I travel, and I’m used to it because of my past routines and habits. I can embark on my work immediately like going to my ‘second office’.
To maximise my work efficiency and reduce the burden on my brain, I always try to book the same hotel if I travel to the city again. I sometimes even eat the same breakfast ‘package’ at a hotel restaurant. After spending two weeks at the hotel, all hotel waiters know me well and often prepare my breakfast package without me to order. I also eat the same ‘Ironman breakfast’ on every Sunday morning after ocean swim training with my Ironman mates. Sounds boring? No, it’s great and it makes my life easier so I can concentrate on more important things!
NB: I do eat other breakfasts and try new things while I travel; often on weekends when I don’t work and can enjoy making those ‘trivial decisions’. ^_<
Dr. C. Richard Wu @ REEAConsulting