Travel, Routines, Discipline

Traveling so much lately, for both work and play, made me realize that for as much as we talk about responsibility, accountability, and disciple around here, I’m sorely lacking those qualities in my private life.

I haven’t worked out in forever, my blogging has been subpar and sporadic, and my other writings have been almost non-existent. My eating is frankly disgusting, my sleep has been troubled and intemperate, and my restlessness and wanderlust are fitful, and growing.

One of the reasons we preach accountability in politics is that saying “trust me” is often a recipe for patronage, corruption, and inefficiency. The same factors are at play in my personal life. Tonight I promise myself I’ll go to the gym, but I will probably crack a beer, eat a burger, and say I’ll do it tomorrow. No one really knows but me. Good thing I’m not administering millions of dollars in stimulus funds, or my budget might have a looming coronary.

One of the reasons I started this space was to have some way of holding myself accountable, of some measurable, tangible responsibility, even if I’m the only one who would know if I missed it. Public shame as motivation; better than none?

So tonight, I’ll force myself to the hotel gym, and probably read some instapaper links. What methods do you all use to keep yourselves accountable for things? What doesn’t work? How can we make those things work in a community setting? Or should I just wait for the government to regulate some exercise or writing or blogging time for me?

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One Response to Travel, Routines, Discipline

  1. Christina says:

    First and foremost, I’ve found that maintaining an effective To-Do list ( keeps me honest. For me, there is no more concrete sense of productivity than crossing something off my list. For example, blogging will remain on my to-do list until I write three posts at a time, then I give myself some creative space before it recurs on the list.

    Regarding what I’ve failed to keep myself accountable, exercise is numero uno. I actually was most consistently accountable when I made it my Lenten promise last year; for forty days I worked out every other day. I chose a workout method that I preferred—in the comfort of my own home with Jillian Michaels on OnDemand exerciseTV, because then I had no excuse for escape like the weather or an overcrowded community gym. And then I kept it up every two days after that until I graduated, and then when my routine changed because I started my new job, I dropped it altogether.

    Exercise never made it on my to-do list because of its frequency, and at the time I was convinced that it had already become a part of my routine. But as Cowen pointed to in a his links (, recent research on forming habits ( revealed that the average time to reach maximum automaticity was 66 days, with a range anywhere from 18 days to a predicted 254 days, with the caveat that the complexity of the behavior also affected the automaticity. A single missed day didn’t have much effect. Considering I’d failed to adapt the behavior to my new routine, I guess that’s why I failed.

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