Daniel Miller

Product-focused Technology Leader

With 20 years of experience in technology and entrepreneurship, I help companies ship software that delivers real value to customers.

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Breaking Habits

The above is from my everyday account, which I use to track habits. After a really strong week last week, things have fallen apart this week (the above is about three weeks, note the big hole on the right-hand side), and this post is me just making note of that and maybe thinking a little bit about why (because I’m not sure why).

Apart from the one in the middle, which is a separate post, I was doing well. I was riding regularly, which is one of my main things, and writing regularly, which is another one of my main things (they are the first line and the last line, respectively). I haven’t ridden since Monday now, which while, based on my normal schedule, is only two missed days of riding (and there’s still time left today, but it’s also supposed to rain all day*), I feel significantly less energy than normal. I’ve had my cold-weather cycling clothes laid out in my closet since Tuesday night. I imagine them being sad that they haven’t been used. All that anticipation for Wednesday morning!

My writing was on a roll, too, and now I’ve missed two days in a row. Both days I just felt too tired at the end of the day. Last night I fell asleep in my clothes on top of the covers about an hour earlier than normal. I’m in the middle of a writing project I’m excited about, too.

This week has been busy at work, but that is not unique; so was last week. The end of this week has had slightly more slack than normal. I’ve even picked up some coding work.

One detail to make note of is that Monday’s ride wasn’t in the morning (normally I ride at 6:30 am), it was late in the afternoon. That led to working late that night, and the screwed up sleeping schedule has carried over day after day until last night’s aforementioned crash.

Another thing I’m thinking about concerns reading, which I was also really on a roll with. I finished the first book I had set out to read this quarter. I was highly motivated to read it and it was a good read. It kept my attention. The second book is a programming book. I’ve never been that great with just reading about some new programming language, framework or other technology. I need to be hands-on with it for it to hold my attention. So I got one day into my reading schedule for book #2 and then immediately fell off the wagon. I have another book I’m reading simultaneously but at a slower pace, and while not a programming book, it’s also not holding my attention. It’s in my Kindle app. That first book was in print and I’m starting to wonder if I’m better about reading print than I am on my phone or tablet. Too many distractions on those devices, perhaps.

Something that’s not on my habit list but that I’m normally really good about is “inbox zero”. Lately, that has been more like inbox 30. I’ve stared at my inbox and just felt…tired.

So this reflection leaves me with the question: What am I going to do about all this?

* I ended up riding in the rain today. It was great.


My first observation is that habits are really easy to break. On those days I’m not feeling it, it’s imperative to push through, or else the train might be (already) disappearing in the distance.

The second is that, at least in my stage of life, sticking to a schedule is important. The way I was able to stick to riding these past months has been because it’s on my calendar every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. When I got serious about reading I put it on my calendar every night at 9.

Sleep schedules are even more important. When I go to sleep too late, it messed up the rest of the week.

On reading specifically, I need to make sure I’m engaged with the material, else move on. If it is something I need to consume, I’ll either power through or (more likely) figure out another way to get the information.

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