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The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Its been long since I blogged about a book or read any book worth blogging. As it happened, a book club was formed in our office and nominations for your book were given and voted. As fate would have it the book I voted came on top and I was nominated as one of the facilitators to summarize the book for our office audience so they can dwell deeper it they like it. "The Power of Habit", I voted for this book in hopes that it would help me create the habit of waking up early and change my YouTube watching habit. Turned out to be a good choice, I enjoyed this book as much as I'd enjoy a well written fiction!

Any Habit can be better understood when looked through The Habit loop: Cue > Routine > Reward. Cue triggers the habit, Routine is the action performed and Reward satisfies your craving . Habits automates our brain, so we need not concentrate on every aspect of a repetitive action : we are not thinking hard on the route to take, traffic, rules to follow on our daily commute to office.

Habit is relatively easy to form but cannot be eradicated, we'd always crave for the reward. The Golden rule is to keep the same Cue and Reward but change the Routine (action) : Most people smoke(routine) to relieve-stress (reward); meditation or exercise can be used as replacement routine as they also release stress buster hormones.

Some habits triggers chain reaction of changes and creates new habits and eventually snowballs into life changing experience, these kind of habits are termed "Keystone habits" : In an office with flexible office hours and tight deadline it will be hard to establish a good work life balance. But if working hours are mandated in office, employees will have to come on time. So they have to wake up early > more early morning fresh air > relatively traffic free ride > most energetic time period spent in office translates to productivity > leaving on time > more family time in evening  > better life style.

Knowing the habits can be changed is not enough and thus the author provides his personal formula to change a habit. (override routine)
1. Identify the routine you want to change : as it is readily visible
2. Experiment with rewards : do minor tweaks in reward to see if your craving is satisfied.
3. Isolate the cue : what is the cue that sets up routine in motion? mostly it will fall in any of the following five categories,
    a) Location : Office
    b) Time : 4:30 pm
    c) Emotional state : Bored
    d) Other people : When colleagues comes/leave office or bay or Skype
    e) Preceding (previous) action : Did stretches, Sent mail and so on
4. Step up plan that goes on to explain minute detail : Everyday I'll wake up at 6 am, for this I'll set three alarm clock away from my bed, I won't hit snooze, I will brush and drink water, wear my sneaker and go jogging for 30 minutes.

For the simplest idea of changing the routine instead attacking the whole habit and offering a memorable 4 step formula, I'm giving this book above 3.5 in spite of being sort of self-help book which I hate most.


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