Using Shortcuts to Live Healthy

I do not enjoy physical fitness. I certainly wouldn’t call myself unhealthy. I eat well and attempt to do some sort of physical activity every so often, but I definitely don’t actively seek out that “ideal physique” as much as I should. I want to be fit and my brain is convinced that it’d be a great idea to achieve that goal, but my body is stubborn. I completely lack the incentive to achieve my goals in physical fitness. Shortcuts helped me change this.

Every evening I end my day by tapping my “Good Night” Shortcut on my Home Screen. In response, my phone lowers its volume, decreases the screen’s brightness, sets Do Not Disturb, starts my “Sleep” project timer in Toggl, and sets an alarm for either 6:00AM or 6:15AM, depending on what time I activated the shortcut (this allows me to sleep in 15 minutes longer if I go to bed late). After a good night’s sleep, I begin my day every morning by tapping my “Good Morning” Shortcut on my Home Screen. In almost a complete reversal of the prior Shortcut, my phone then raises its volume, increases the screen’s brightness, deactivates Do Not Disturb, and stops my “Sleep” timer in Toggl.


It might seem strange to have a Toggl timer for sleeping, but I’ve recently begun tracking all of my time as a personal project. What I’ve found is that I don’t like misusing a timer and that having a timer running in the background, significantly incentivizes me to be doing that task (or not.) For instance, when my “Work” timer is running, I’m incentivized to actually be working in an effort not to produce a false report of time-worked. On the other hand, having a “Social Media” timer running whenever I addictively open Twitter incentivizes me to close the app as soon as possible, in an effort not to run up the clock on the social media section of my activity report.

But what about physical fitness? I do not enjoy physical fitness. My brain tells me it’ll feel great but my body overpowers my brain with a simple, “not today.” As it turns out, using a Shortcut-automated Toggl timer for fitness tips the scales between my brain and my body in favor of my brain. My body still doesn’t want to workout, but my brain needs to. It needs to satisfy that timer running in the background.

I’ve since amended my “Good Morning” Shortcut. In addition to the actions previously in place, now the Shortcut checks the current day of the week and responds with further actions depending on the result. If it’s Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, the Shortcut begins my “Fitness” timer in Toggl. So far that simple action of automatically activating a timer for fitness on the mornings I want to workout has proven successful.

Follow Doug Davis on Twitter @thedougdavis and get blog updates @autonomous_blog.