At Project Brilliant, we are doing a healthy habits program. There are several reasons for doing this. First, it’s just a good idea. I won’t list all the benefits for eating and drinking healthy. Just google it. Pages and pages of why. Second, working from home all day, for me, means I am less active. I am no longer sprinting from conference room to conference room for a meeting. I simply click a link. It feels like I am chained to my desk all day. That may be a bit of over exaggerating, but it does not feel like it. And third, there’s some good natured friendly competition amongst co-workers to see who can meet the goals each week. We are a team of mainly high D’s on the DISC model. So, we all know we are going to beat the competition.
Week one of Healthy Habits was to drink 100 oz of water per day. Challenge accepted. I was well on my way. About 6 months ago, I stopped drinking soda all-together after reading the book, Power of Habit. I was drinking way too many colas and calories per day. So, I broke my habit and switched to primarily water. I also don’t drink coffee or tea so that really limits my options. 100 oz of water per day, I was sure I could do that. I refill my water bottle multiple times per day, so I was positive I was already meeting the goal.
Here’s where it got difficult for me. Thinking I was drinking 100 oz and verifying I was drinking 100 oz was not the same thing. I had an app on my phone that tracked water intake. It was just ok. Now that I was part of a team challenge, I wanted my tracking to be more accurate. If I said I drank 100 oz, I wanted to be able to see it. While the app was satisfactory before, it no longer was. I wasn’t able to see the previous day’s intake. I wanted to see a history of data, to be able to compare day to day. This is where it all fell apart. Like any good smartphone user, I went to the app store and found an overwhelming number of apps to track the amount of water consumed. I would download an app, use it for a bit and discover it did almost all that I wanted but not quite. Or it had an annoying feature that I did not like. Several apps later, I finally chucked them all out the window.
I fell into the trap I coach clients against. I took a simple task of tracking how much water I drank and made it an overly complex, overly time consuming ordeal. When I downloaded a new app, I continued using the previous ones. I didn’t want to stop tracking in all the apps until I decided which app I liked best. The result, I stopped tracking all together.
In the technology age we live in today, the go-to is to have technology lead the way. The side effect is that we get caught up in this problem of trying to bend our needs to fit the technology capabilities. This seldom works. By using more and more technology, we are making simple processes overly complex. When I ask people why they are entering data into multiple systems, the answer is generally, none of the systems give them all the information needed. So they have to enter it multiple times. And that was the trap I found myself in. I had taken this simple task of tracking how much water I drank and made it overly complicated.
My solution? Follow the coaching advice I give my clients. Go back to the basics. Keep it simple. What was the problem I was trying to solve? To track how much water I drank per day. What is the simplest way to do that? For me, draw a chart on a piece of paper. Fill in a square for each bottle I drank per day. My water bottle is 20oz, so I have 5 squares per day. Simple. Taking technology out of the equation when possible simplifies the process and makes it more likely that people will follow through.
My lesson for the day, keep it simple. A principle of the agile manifesto is “Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential.” That is so true for everything. Keep it as simple as possible. Don’t make it overly complicated. And drink more water.