I have a few
I read this wonderful blog post recently: Wise People Have Rules for Themselves. Go and read it quickly, it's worth it.
I really agree with the underlying premise. Simple rules of thumb to reduce or eliminate decisions are a great way to improve your life.
I have a number of personal rules that automate certain bits of my life, but I've also failed to create rules in other parts of my life. Notably, I have so far failed to establish strong exercise habits, and my diet could still use a bit of fine-tuning. I don't have decent productivity rules, and still spend far too much unstructured time online.
However, the rules I do have work quite well. The problem is that while writing this I found I only have two of them.
Clearly this is a less-than-ideal situation. I think I need more of these rules. Tynan explains it well in this post: a good rule allows you to eliminate decisions, and it is thinking about decisions that taxes your willpower. If you have a rule that you follow there is nothing to think about.
Here are my two rules:
1. Drink water or black coffee
I've been doing this for a long time now. In most situations, almost all of the time, I only drink water or black coffee. One benefit of this is that neither has any calories. Another is that they are both cheap.
I don't like the taste of tapwater and disapprove of bottled water, so we have a water filter machine thingy at home and at work. They are wonderful.
2. Put money away every month
As I described in this post, I save about 2 million yen a year and invest it. This is both a habit and a rule, I guess. I started with very small amounts and increased them very gradually. After a while it feels completely normal.
I also have a few new ones that I am just rolling out:
* Don't touch my phone when I am driving
This is a new one. I used to glance at my phone when I stopped at red lights, but I think that is basically a stupid habit, one with little upside and a lot of downside. Now my rule is that when I get in the car I plug my phone in to charge and don't look at it again until I stop the car. So far (a few weeks) it's working very well.
* If possible, take the stairs
My office is on the fifth floor, and I will normally have to go up and down 3-4 times a day -a good way to get low-level exercise and save on electricity for the elevator. At home we live on the third floor. I manage to keep to this rule almost all the time.
Now, I have lots of almost-rules that come close, but they are not embedded as firmly as the ones above. Something to work on perhaps. I particularly need to come up with some more rules for exercise, food, productivity, and socializing.
How about you? Do you have any personal rules?