Our daily life is dominated by rules and our actions are more often than not driven by habit. Good habits. Like brushing our teeth. Bad habits – Like grabbing unconsciously for a bottle of soda or a bar of chocolate. Habits can be a blessing or a curse.
As defined in the Cambridge Dictionary a habit is something that we do often and regularly, sometimes without knowing that we are doing it (-1-).
The word „regularly“ is the tricky part. We know that we should floss our teeth regularly or that we should exercise more and regularly during the week. But taking the actual step from knowing what we should do to actually doing it is often times a hard one and we get stuck overthinking our actions or doing something else entirely.
To ease this step and actually start getting things done we can try to take advantage of our our existence as a creature of habits and form useful ones that help us achieve our goals in life.
The Two Day Rule is the tool that can help us doing so
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The importance of good habits
We all know that we should do this or that, but often times its so damn hard to follow through with it.
Should I go for a run today? Nah, its okay I already went Monday so I can skip today an go tomorrow – or maybe the day after tomorrow. Then during the next day I start feeling guilty for skipping my workout yesterday and find comfort lying on my cozy couch watching Netflix just to eventually feel even more guilty. I‘m stuck in a downward spiral of guilt.
If I had build a habit of going for a run every other day the above situation would not have come up in the first place. Getting home and putting on my shoes for a quick run would be second nature.
I would not think about what I should do. I would just do it. No thinking involved.
Building a habit is not trivial but also not impossible. According to a study done by Phillippa Laily forming a continuous habit takes 18 to 254 days (-2-). In her study she also describes that „missing one opportunity to perform the behavior did not materially affect the habit formation process“
Thats the key part we take advantage of with the Two Day Rule.
The Two Day Rule
The Two Day Rule is as simple as it gets:
Never skip more than one day in a row.
That it. It‘s simple. It‘s effective.
The best part of why I think the rule is working: it gets rid of the guilt we feel by skipping a day of the new habit we want to form. If we don‘t feel like running we simply don‘t go. We know that we have a wildcard. Doing nothing will not be punished but it’s allowed and forgiven – as long its not the second day of skipping in a row – then it‘s time to get our act together.
Tracking is key
The key part of employing the rule is to keep track of our progress. By tracking how we are doing, we know at any time if we have the „permission“ to skip without feeling guilty or if we have to push through.
Habatica (-click-) for example, is a pretty fun app that gamifys the whole experience of tracking habits. You become a hero that earns experience by accomplishing tasks (e.g. your new habbit) in the real world. The game has a well thought out system of rewards and punishments for following a habit or being a lazy ass.
As good as the digital adventure might be, my advice would be to stick to a physical pen and paper tracking experience.
You can start bullet journaling or simply print out an empty calendar of the current month (I do the latter). There are many free calendar templates online – I get mine here (-click-) Grab one, print it and place it somewhere in your home where its always present. I taped mine onto my wardrobe so that I can check it every morning and right after getting home.
Now, every time you followed your new habit mark the current day as done. I use a simple X but you can get creative.
If you skipped a day leave the day unchecked or add a symbol that indicates to you that you skipped. I use a sad (for days a was lazy) or a happy (for days I did something cool instead) smily face to mark my skipped days.
Your only task now is to never let a single smily face get company. If there is a good reason (for example if you‘re sick) why you can‘t avert having two or more days off, write it down and restart your streak as soon as possible.
Like with everything in life good things won‘t happen in an instant. We have to invest time and work. The Two day rule is a hack that helps us to make the process of forming a habit a little easier.
More about The Two Day Rule
If you liked the idea of the Two Day Rule and would like to get another impression of it I can recommend to you Matt D‘Avellas video about how he implemented the Two Day Rule to build a more active lifestyle: