Five habits of a moderately effective person

2015-01-02 08.28.01 coffeeWith apologies to Stephen Covey and his ‘Seven habits of highly effective people’. Click here for more information about that book. Here are my five.

I plan the start of the day. I was prompted to write this post by an item I read on the Todoist blog (click here) which makes a bit of a meal out of a ‘morning routine’. I don’t go so far as to itemise every element of the start of my day but I do have a habit to what I do when I’m at home. But more important if I’m travelling or if I have business or a meeting first thing I do plan the start of such days to ensure that I can avoid getting stuck in traffic and get a decent breakfast, that means coffee and croissant, en route. As a result I know often arrange my meetings so that I can hit Caffe Nero or similar at 0800.

I’ve crystallised this habit into a bit of management advice which I give to people who work for me and/or have travelling jobs viz ‘get control of the beginning (and the end) of the day’. Point is that when you’re travelling it’s so easy for your agenda to unravel that you need good solid anchor points at each end. And in the morning that’s breakfast and in the evening that means getting back to your hotel room in plenty of time to unwind.

I take a photograph every day. This is a comparatively recent habit and you have to work at it! It’s motivated by the cheque which the nice Mr Osborne sends me every 4 weeks and the answer on www.confused.com when I asked what my life expectancy is. Life’s short and getting shorter so I want to be as alert to what’s going on and to appreciate my surroundings as much as possible. Hence more photographs and more blog posts. This one will make it two in the first week of January! My daily photographs are on Tumblr at jdjhiston.tumblr.com

I track my exercise. If you think this is sad wait until you get to the second paragraph relating to this habit … but I’m now in the third year of doing this. It reflects a significant uptick in my expectations of my fitness five years ago. I decided that I’d do a 10k run in 2013 and although injury scuppered that plan I ticked the box last year. I now try and get some form of exercise (gym, run or bike) 3 times a week and that gives me a licence for the excesses in my life.

And that’s where para 2 comes in. Over the years I’ve been fortunate to eat and drink well, both as I travel and at home. Plenty of exercise allows me to continue and although I don’t monitor my eating, I’ve got a fairly healthy diet, I do count my drinks. My alcohol tolerance isn’t what it used to be and although I don’t get hangovers I don’t sleep so well and generally don’t fire on all cylinders if I exceed a fairly modest intake. So I count my drinks.

I buy a daily newspaper viz the Guardian. I subscribe so I get it cheaper than if I simply paid the cover price but I’d buy one even then and I’ve been buying the same one now since we returned to the UK in 1993. And when we lived in Switzerland I would buy one whenever I could as I was passing through airports and mainline railway stations. This habit is so strong I’ll even go out at 10pm to buy one if I haven’t done so earlier. I rationalise this in terms of staying current with the news (obviously) but also exercising the mind as I do the daily crosswords and Sudokus.

I read the Guardian because I’m comfortable with its politics (small p), because it does sport well and because I especially like a number of the regular contributors including Marina Hyde, Simon Jenkins and Jonathan Freedland.

I keep Saturday mornings for friends and family. I often use this as an excuse to avoid other commitments but if we’re at home Saturday morning means breakfast with my wife at Don Pasquale in Cambridge where we also meet several friends. And after that it’s an hour or so to do very little but wander round familiar shops and sights in Cambridge. After most weeks it’s a pleasant low stress interlude.

I’ve got my fair share of bad habits too but they don’t seem to be significant and I’ll certainly not bore the reader with a list of them.

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