- I won't let myself check last Sunday's crossword answers until this Sunday's crossword is complete. This is not a superstition - luck has nothing to do with it - and it's not a reward - completing the crossword is its own reward - but it's an ingrained habit in the same class as brushing my teeth before bed.
- I make steel-cut oatmeal every weekend, but I won't make it on a weekday morning, even if I have time. Monday to Friday, it's Multigrain Life cereal for me.
- I have a sample of EasyGlide dental floss that I keep in my cosmetic bag for when I go on vacation. The rest of the time, I use the cheaper mint-flavoured Johnson & Johnson. Frugality is a possible motive for this one, but considering my lax habits in all my other spending, there's still a certain senselessness to this lone act of penny-pinching.
- When I'm craving an apple, I often decide not to eat one on the grounds that I should save healthy food like that for the children.
- When I buy a home-decorating magazine, I make myself read all the articles, even the ones I'm not interested in. (However, I no longer force myself to finish reading books I'm not enjoying, abandoning them as soon as something better comes along. Recent books to receive this treatment are The Birth House, Effigy, and Eat, Pray, Love, any of which I may return to if my stash of more compelling reads dwindles sufficiently.) (Furthermore, I don't apply this "get your money's worth" reasoning to food: if I am full, or I'm not enjoying the meal I ordered in a restaurant, I never force myself to keep eating.)
- I never throw out a set of pyjamas. I still own (and occasionally wear) flannel nightgowns that date back to the 1980s.
What about you? What senseless forms of self-discipline do you practise?