I spent a week last summer with my aunt and uncle in Colorado. Each an engineer by training, and family genealogists and historians by passion, our conversations were wide ranging and invariably fascinating.
What made this visit noteworthy was it was the first since my uncle retired. With a lot more time on his hands, he's in the throes of, you guessed it, #HabitChange. No more daily drive to the university where he worked. No more rush to feed the dogs, take out the trash, and out the door he goes to run his engineering lab. Instead, like a scene out of the movie The Intern, starring Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro, he now has to make a daily plan to get out of the house and engage with the world as he steps into and shapes his retired life and lifestyle.
Habits are of course hard to change. I am reading Atomic Habits by James Clear, and it's a must read in my view because it speaks to all of us no matter our day-to-day way of living.
For example, are you the type of person for whom the moment an item is added to your to-do list you ignore it as though it were written in invisible ink? Or do you sweat that list out until it's done, hopefully as soon as possible, and then cross it off your list with great satisfaction?
Yup, James Clear sees us all and has strategies to help.
As I read, I could see how the new habit of Artifcting fits into Clear’s strategies for #HabitChange and wanted to share my translation of a couple of his tips to help you build as you curate your Artifcts collection. Taken slightly out of context, the best line of the book may even be, “Stop thinking about your environment as filled with objects. Start thinking about it as filled with relationships.” Relationships reflect interactions, shape habits. Don’t you want to capture those meaningful relationships, memories, stories? We think so, thus, Artifcts!
Three Habit Strategies for the #Artilife
Like everything else in life, to create new habits, you need to consider first what “rewards” you want from, in this case, Artifcting. Depending on your situation, maybe you identify with one of these, and it will help guide you to the right habit-based approach to Artifcting and what you do with your Artifct once you create it:
- I need to be better organized and in greater control of the ‘stuff’ around me. Consider our 5 Ways to Start Artifcting, room by room, most valuable, most cherished, that closet you hate to open …
- All this stuff will not fit in my new home. There’s no arguing with dimensions. Get Artifcting early and don’t forget to include those dimensions in the Artifct details!
- I want to make sure my loved one is not forgotten. Artifcting need not be a solo experience. Create an invite-only circle to share and remember those who you have lost.
- I need help researching my family history. Invite-only circles on Artifcts are one place to start so that you can invite family in to see heirlooms, but social media groups are often another great source of information, and you can easily share your Artifcts into social media for more fact and family lore gathering.
- I love swapping good stories, laughing and remembering with friends and family. So try sharing an Artifct or two and see how that works for you.
Frame Artifcting as a "when" activity so it becomes intentional. The key here is to be very specific!
- "Every Tuesday at 9 pm, I'll grab my phone and create two new Artifcts."
- "When I add something into storage, I'll Artifct it first."
- “When I buy something over $100, I will ask myself, “Is this an Artifct?” and Artifct it on the spot (with receipt!) and fill in the full details later.
- "When I unpack my suitcase, I'll Artifct my new mementos as I place them around the house."
- "Every Friday when my son brings his art folder home, I’ll Artifct his projects with him while he has an after-school snack.”
Try out what Clear calls "habit stacking" to incorporate Artifcting into your regular routines and existing habits.
- "Each season when I organize my closet, I'll Artifct any sentimental pieces, and then sort the items into three piles: keep, consignment, or donation."
- "As I review my estate plan each year, I will check that my Artifcts are included in the tangible assets memorandum."
- “As I add an item to her baby keepsakes box, I will Artifct it. Then I will put the box away immediately.”
- "After we clean out the woodshop each winter, we will take breaks. During the breaks we’ll Artifct special projects and tools.”
Still wondering whether and why to adopt an Artifcting habit? You're busy and you have your ways, after all! My uncle made an excellent point by referencing the 1982 sci-fi film Blade Runner, "All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain."
Don't lose your history. Pass it on with all the beautiful photos, videos, audio, and story details included, Artifct by Artifct.
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Any mistakes in the interpretation of the habits to Artifcting belong to Artifcts. In fact, we would encourage you to download the free habit cheat sheets from the author at atomichabits.com/cheatsheet!