Sep 12 2010

The power of a daily routine

I've been doing relaxation breathing for a while. If I have a lot of things to do and get overwhelmed, I become less productive. This meditation helps me focus on one thing at a time by reducing stress and calming me down. It's part of the reason I've taken yoga.


Yoga meditationInitially, I just put this meditation as a daily task on my smartphone. If I found time to do it, I did it; if I was busy or didn't have the motivation, I pushed it off to the next day. I noticed I was especially likely to forget it on weekends, which paradoxically left me more stressed going into the work week. Since I started using Rootein several weeks ago, I've done the relaxation breathing every day for almost two months. It's now become a daily habit. It's part of my day and I look forward to doing it and checking it off daily.

So what's the difference in motivation using Rootein? I think there are two factors. First, I now get a daily email reminding me to meditate. This comes in to my email inbox, which I pay attention to. People do better at keeping a commitment when they tell friends about it: knowing others are paying attention is great motivation. The daily email from Rootein is like an automated nudge from a friend asking if you're sticking to your commitment. If you like having a real person fill that function, you can tweet when you complete your task. That way, people should notice if you haven't done it in a while.

Second, Rootein keeps track of how many days in a row I've done the relaxation breathing. This motivates me to keep my streak going. Now that I'm up to 52 days, I don't want to fall back to zero! On the flip side, Rootein also tells you how many days you've been slacking. And if I ever slacked for three days in a row (perish the thought!), Rootein would send me a slacking reminder.

Relaxation breathing

The combination of these two factors turn a self improvement task from something you should do if you have time to a daily focus. The only downside I've felt is that sometimes the motivation to check off "meditation" becomes a bit too big of a factor, and I worry I'm not focusing on just getting through the exercise and not quite as much on the relaxation breathing itself. Then again, this particular activity is one I have to been in the right mood to do well, so it might just be that on days I'm not in the best mindset, the meditation isn't as relaxing. Still, it's better to do the relaxation breathing sub-optimally than not at all!

Image credits: Yoga meditation: sakhorn38 / FreeDigitalPhotos.netstretching: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.