Pairing can help us former procrastinators do what we ought to do by combining one thing with another that we already have going. I value pairing because it helps me do something I find easy to let slide. If I walk the dog, I can attach scripture memory to walking. If I hang scripture memory cards with the dog leash, I’ll be ready for both. It’s also helpful to pair something I’d like to do with something I might not.
Closely related, but a little different, are reminders often called “action triggers.” If I intend to jog tomorrow when I get up, I can place my running shoes by the door or in the bathroom. Seeing the shoes triggers me to put them on and hit the road. Pairing can be an action trigger; or action triggers can stand alone.
My husband delights in using a variety of cell phone rings, voices, and strange sounds to prompt him. I most often use a large written note which I place on the kitchen floor. More than one kind friend has reached down to help me by clearing the floor only to hear, “No! I need that right there.” I also use cell phone alarms and the kitchen timer.
The jangle of an alarm clock is an action trigger. “Time to get up!” Seeing the stairs triggers my stretching. Turning on lamps in the morning triggers me to sit for Bible reading. The prayer request list in my study book reminds me to pray for the women in the group.
The kitchen timer prompts me to take a break from tiring eye work and do something different for a few minutes or to move to the next job. A watering can on the counter reminds me to give the plants a drink before leaving.
A briefcase packed the night before and placed by the front door says, “Take these things I need for work.” A brightly colored card sticking out can signal “Also grab lunch from the fridge.” When the gas tank hits one-half, I’m triggered to fill up. I’ve been delighted with how a clean desk at the end of the day triggers priority work the next morning.
One mom was frustrated by children scrambling to find missing shoes when it was time to leave the house. Her friend suggested, since each already lays out his clothes for the next day, why not pair checking for shoes by the door with the clothes prep? Laying out clothes triggers setting shoes by the door.
You can see how an action trigger helps serve as a routine bowling bumper to direct you into the lane where you should be in order to hit the priority pins. Action triggers don’t have to always be for priorities; they are handy for other tasks too. But they are especially useful for establishing new habits that enable you to do your priorities.
What action triggers do you use or plan to try?