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An Expert Trick to Break the 3:30 p.m. Cookie Habit
Duhigg knew he needed to break the cookie cycle, but leaving himself chastising notes didn't seem to help (it never does). He happened to be writing a book on habit formation and how companies exploit our routines to sell us stuff, so he took what he heard from the experts and applied it to his own vice. He asked himself five questions the moment the urge hit and discovered that he wasn't hungry; just bored.
This is where most of us would have tried to create a healthy new habit--instead of snacking, we'd tell ourselves, we'll go for a brisk walk. But Duhigg knew that he needed to go one step further to make the new habit stickier than the "No More Cookies!" notes that kept falling off his computer. So he went back to the principle Proctor & Gamble used in marketing Febreze: "To shift the routine--to socialize, rather than eat a cookie--I needed to piggyback on an existing habit," he wrote. At cookie o'clock every day, he stood up and scanned the room for coworkers to talk to, then spent 10 minutes gossiping with them. He responded to the same cues, looked for the same rewards, but tried a different routine. It worked; he's happy, caught up on the office gossip, and 12 pounds lighter. Read the article to find out exactly how Duhigg did this, and how you can you can apply the Febreze method to your own bad snack habits.
As a reminder, always consult your doctor for medical advice and treatment before starting any program.