Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Power of Habit [Chapter 1]

Haley Scholars Fall 2012 Reading Groups

By Cindy Lyles

Chapter one of Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit focuses on what he calls the habit loop and establishes how to simply understand the cycle. A three-step sequence—cue, routine, and reward—forms the foundation of all habits. In instances of amnesia, as the author demonstrates, longstanding habits are powerful enough to dictate and direct people’s actions although they cannot retain new and recent facts.

Actions based on the three-step process become so programmed that they can be done without much actual thought. “The process—in which the brain converts a sequence of actions into an automatic routine," notes Duhigg, "is known as ‘chunking,’” (17). Chunking conserves the efforts of human brains, but chunking can also be detrimental.

Based on the reading, what is one key benefit of chunking for the formation of a productive habit? Or, what is one key detriment of chunking for the development of a productive habit? How so?


B.Jeffery said...

Through my own personal experiences and Duhigg's definition of "chunking", to me the most important aspect in the process is the consistency in the way the tasks are completed.

For example, I work overnight shifts. Each shift at 5am my co-worker turns on the coffee maker for the on coming shift. Simultaneously, I go open the building doors and secure the building. Often this happens subconsciously. I often ask myself, "How did I get home this morning" after my shift. I know that because I've consistently done this ritual time and again that it is in some way "automatic" as Duhigg said, but I’m not sure exactly what that means just yet.

I anticipate reading further to find out Duhigg's theory on the role that consistency and or chunking memory plays a role in me doing a task without thinking and how it relates to all of my other tasks and habits. So far this is a great read I am excited to read what happens next!

Anonymous said...

Nia W.

"Chunking" is beneficial because the act of chunking leads to efficiency. I think chunking has helped me to be more productive at my on-campus job. During my training days I was still trying to process how to do certain tasks. It would take me a while to figure them out because I was thinking about them step-by-step. But now, thanks to my brain chunking that information I am able to complete those tasks much quicker than before without thinking about everything. For example, when I see that someone registered for a campus tour (CUE); I automatically open up Microsoft Word to send them a confirmation letter (ROUTINE). Within that routine I print the letter, stuff it into an envelope with other materials, and stick it in the mail bin. After all letters for prospective visitors have been sent, one of my daily tasks is complete and the prospective student receives the letter (REWARD). Chunking has allowed me to multi-task on the job as well. I don't have to put much thought into what I am doing as I am doing it. For example, Lets say the phone rings as I am preparing to send a confirmation letter. I do not have to pause and think about what to do next. I automatically answer the phone, listen to the caller, as I am still preparing the confirmation letter. Chunking allows me to act automatically without taking the time to really think about it.

Katrina S said...

Chunking is extremely beneficial in repetitive task. Instead of having to think about each individual detail, you can look at the bigger picture and get things done quicker.
For example, I work in a mail room and my brain has developed a system for processing mail. It is a habit for me. With chunking, I can get a task done faster than when I first started. Chunking frees up space in your mind and allows you to act without exerting a lot of energy in thinking about what you are doing. However, chunking may make it difficult to describe your process to others because it is so innate to you.

Julian Glover said...

Chunking is something that I have heard of while in an Advance Placement Psychology course during high school. I have personal experience with chunking as I am a classical musician and I use this technique in order to memorize music. I chunk each piece phrase by phrase, and then put each link together to create the piece in its entirety.

I have found this particular method to be much more effective than rope memorization which is the process that I used to utilize. Overall chunking is an effective tool, and I fail to see a major downside to this method (although I am aware that one exists). I was not expecting this book to begin like this and I am actually quite happy that it did begin like this. I look forward to reading the rest of the book.

Jessica H. said...

Chunking is a benefit because it helps in everyday life. Chunking helps the brain remember a certain routine so that you can complete the same task subconsciously with little thought. For example with me chunking has helped me multitask in the aspect of school. Now that I have a routine, I know the schedule set for my life like the back of my hand. My routine is go to class, leave class, read over the material I just learned and then do homework/ study.

Robin Caffey said...

Chunking can be very beneficial when creating a positive habit because it relieves your brain from focusing so much on a small aspect of the process and its automatically triggered.

But Chunking can make breaking bad habits extremely hard to break. Some bad habits such as drug use and drinking are triggered by stress among other events. This makes it very difficult to eliminate the bad habit when the "trigger" occurs.