When it comes to building good habits, there’s no magic bullet. Consistency is key. If you’re trying to build a new habit, or just stick with an old one, try the paper clip strategy.
Photo by David
As productivity writer James Clear explains, habits are formed both physically and ritually. Having something tangible that you can manipulate and watch grow helps you work towards a goal and, in doing so, build a habit. Which is why Clear adapts the strategy that stock broker Tyler Dyrsmid used: moving paper clips from one jar to another:
On his desk, he placed two jars. One was filled with 120 paper clips. The other was empty. This is when the habit started.
“Every morning I would start with 120 paper clips in one jar and I would keep dialling the phone until I had moved them all to the second jar.” — Trent Dyrsmid
And that was it. 120 calls per day. One paper clip at a time.
By moving the paper clips from one jar to another, Dyrsmid saw progress and had a goal to shoot for. The ritual helped reinforce the action he was taking. Of course, it can be adapted to anything. You can move paper clips from one jar to another every time you finish another to-do, or complete another workout. You can adapt the timeline from 120 per day to 30 a month. The point is to tie your habit to something tangible that you can watch get better over time.