Habit-Reinforcing Automations & Settings [and a Question!]

Yes, New Year’s Resolutions are silly and most people don’t keep theirs. However, I am trying to implement some new habits and patterns for my 2021 “theme” (which is “Balance” although it’s just a Q1/2021 theme for now and I’ll re-evaluate in March).

Here are some things that I’ve automated to help reinforce some new habits that I want to develop:

Bedroom Lights

  • on full at 7:30 a.m. {time to get up}
  • off at 8:00 a.m. {should be dressed, done in bedroom}
  • on slightly at 11 p.m. {should be getting ready for bed}
  • off at midnight {put your phone down and go to sleep, dummy}

Office Lights

  • on at 8:00 a.m. in ‘Concentrate’ mode ¹
  • at 4:00 p.m. change to blue to tell me I am in the last hour of work ²
  • turn off at 5:00 p.m. ³
  • turn off at 11:45 p.m.

¹ I just got full-color lights for the office and this is one of the modes it offers. Basically a strong very white light, as far as I can tell.

² Not sure this is the color choice I’ll stick with, but it’s a stark contrast, which is what I wanted to start with.

³ I am under no delusion that this will prevent me from working after 5 p.m., but I wanted there to be a clear sign to my brain that this was the end of the “workday” regardless, so I don’t just keep working because I haven’t been paying attention. I don’t have another “turn on” automation after 5 p.m. but I do have it set to turn off at 11:45 p.m. to help encourage/remind me to go to bed at a reasonable hour.

(Yes, I realize that I’m not yet setting myself up for the recommended 8 hours of sleep per night but honestly I get more like 6 right now, so if I’m actually able to fall asleep and get up at these times, it will be an improvement.)

Lock My Mac’s Screen

I have also set my Mac to lock its own screen at 5:00 p.m. and midnight.

This is an easily “defeated” step, but the idea isn’t to be foolproof. The idea is to force me to be aware of the time and make a decision as to what to do next.

You could accomplish this with AppleScript and launchd (I have a gist for that) but I prefer to use Keyboard Maestro and tell it to send the keyboard shortcut ⌘⌃Q at 5 pm and midnight.


I also downloaded Streaks (which is now available on the Mac too) and set it to remind me of several things that I want to do on a daily basis.

I also included some new things that I have already been doing recently but want to continue because I think it’s a good idea to keep track of current successes, and not just new goals.


Notifications for my Mac are already minimal, as I tend to focus notifications on my iPhone.

I went through my iPhone and disabled notifications for almost all of them.⁴

I went through every app on my iPad and disabled notifications for all of them. I was amazed by how many were enabled for a device that I considered to be “No Notifications” (although it is usually in DND anyway, there are still badges, etc).

⁴ Question - Can I make my iPhone less appealing overnight?

I would like to make my iPhone almost unusable from midnight to 7:30. It should be able to receive phone calls and play audio (podcasts, audiobooks, etc) but other than that, I’d like to restrict it, if possible.

Is that possible in a way that I can automate somehow? I may need to look into the iOS “Bedtime” feature which I have previously ignored. Maybe that does some of it.

I would like to make my iPhone almost unusable from midnight to 7:30.
Is that possible in a way that I can automate somehow?

No automation, but super effective:

I charge my iPhone at that time in a different room than the bedroom.

That would be a good method, unfortunately I do need it nearby for potential phone calls. Hazard of the trade, I’m afraid.

Also, I generally fall asleep listening to podcasts or audiobooks, or Dark Noise.

Re making the iPhone un-usable, could you potentially use Downtime (under Screen Time)? From memory, it allows restrictions to be set on a per-app basis. I think it was easy enough to work around and break through to the apps but it does provide a potential barrier (as does Sleep Mode). For a while I considered having my partner set the passcode so I couldn’t circumvent it but I never pulled the trigger on that in the end…