Days to form a habit

I’ve read it before in many places. The number of days isn’t the same, but the idea is – repeat a process enough times and you will form a habit.

This morning I got up and found myself at a bit of a loss. In order to read all the articles on my comprehensive exams reading list, I made reading my morning priority. Every morning, when I got up, I would make myself a cup of coffee and read two or three articles from my reading list (when I was on a roll, I might keep reading and read 5 or 6 articles). For the last six weeks, I’ve spent almost every morning reading a few articles. Yesterday, I read the last article on the list. This morning, I got up and didn’t know what to do with myself.  I found myself looking for an article or two to read in order to prepare a PowerPoint presentation that I’ll be giving at the end of April. It was while reading the article that it occurred to me, I had formed a habit of reading an article or two or three first thing in the morning while I enjoyed my morning coffee.

Since this habit is actually a good one for my academic career, I’m going to try to continue it. It means that I need to find myself a list of articles that I want to read – perhaps I’ll create a folder, and every morning I’ll enjoy my cup of coffee with an article or two or three.

I wish I’d found this habit a little earlier in my academic career!


  1. They had an interview on CBC this week with a guy who wrote a book on habits. (I don't have time to look it up now, I think it was on a weekday morning show, probably on Tuesday.) The guy said that it's very hard to create new habits or to completely abolish old ones – you need to look at the habits you have and change them to what you want. I think it this is consistent with your finding – assuming that you already had the habit of drinking a coffee in the morning, you added another element to it and it worked. It probably would have been harder if you'd said "I'm going to read papers at 11 am every day" unless you already had a habit of doing something at 11. Anyway, it was an interesting interview and I should probably track down the book.
    Oh, and congrats on your successful habit modification! :)

    • Thanks Siobhan. I had not linked it to the habit I already had – the morning cup of coffee. So, when I went to make my coffee I found myself wondering what to do. So, in a way, I’ve attached the reading of articles with my morning coffee – perhaps there is a sensory link too. I wonder if when I smell coffee I will want to read articles (seems very Pavlovian!).

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