A Simple Productivity Secret: How to Form Good Habitsby Rachel Adnyana
Everyone knows how difficult it can be to break bad habits. Quitting smoking, snacking and nail-biting are all notoriously difficult purely because they have become regular habits. Basically, your brain has become so used to performing these actions that you barely notice yourself putting a cigarette in your mouth or reaching for another handful of peanuts.
Just as bad habits can be hard to break, so can good habits, if you make a conscious effort to form them. Good habits will help you to live a happier, more productive life with little effort after an initial investment.
What habits should I try to develop?
There are numerous life- and productivity-enhancing habits you might adopt. You may want to consider:
- Drinking water regularly and less sugary beverages
- Exercising daily
- Rising early
- Eating a healthy breakfast
- Starting work as soon as you sit at your computer
- Taking regular breaks
- Doing your most important tasks of the day first
- Having a regular bedtime
- Meditating daily
- Checking emails only at set times each day.
If you’re thinking, “what does drinking water and exercise have to do with productivity?” try these simple changes for a week and see how much more work you get done and how much better you feel. A healthy body really does equal a healthy mind, and you’ll be surprised at how much more productive you can be when your body is in peak condition.
Are habits really necessary to be productive?
If you study the daily schedule of highly productive people, you will frequently find that they follow the same routine every day, doing the same thing at the same times and being almost ritualistic in their behavior.
When you turn an action into a habit, you flip the autopilot switch in your brain so that your actions become automatic. You don’t waste time debating with yourself if you should do something or not. Neither do you procrastinate.
Practicing something over and over again builds muscle memory. You can probably enter your bank pin or your house alarm code with your eyes closed, simply because you have done it so many times. When your body remembers how to do something in this way, you get both better at it and faster. This removes the mental effort from doing everyday tasks, making your life easier as well as more productive.
10 tips for developing good habits
It takes around three to four weeks of daily practice to develop a habit. This means you will have to make a concerted effort for about 30 days, after which you will find you’re in autopilot mode and don’t need to think about it anymore.
- Identify your goals – decide what exactly you want to achieve and write it down. If you don’t have a clear goal to focus on, it will be difficult to attain.
- Tackle your goals one at a time – trying to do too much at one time is a recipe for failure. Master one habit before you move on to the next.
- Set an end date – it can sometimes be too overwhelming to devote yourself to even a simple action for the rest of your life. Instead tell yourself that you’ll try it for a month. After this trial period you’ll probably want to continue anyway.
- Inspire yourself – inspirational stories, productivity blogs and books are all great ways to motivate you and help to create a positive mindset.
- Build habits into your routine – when you’re trying to develop a new habit, it helps to do it at the same time every day and associate it with another activity. For example, drinking a glass of water immediately after waking.
- Be consistent – Daily habits are much easier to develop than weekly ones. Try not to give yourself days off and track your daily success on a calendar. You won’t want to ‘break the chain’ by missing a day.
- Visualize your success – the world’s most successful people use visualization techniques to help them have their best performance. See yourself succeeding and the chances are, you will.
- Create accountability – tell your friends and family about the new habit you are trying to develop or write about it publicly in a blog. When other people are following your progress, you’re much less likely to fail.
- Review your progress regularly – keep track of your progress on a diary or calendar so you can remind yourself of how much you have already achieved.
- Find tools and tricks to help – alarm and reminder apps can be very useful when you are trying to develop a habit. Try out a few to see if they help.
Habit is one of the most powerful techniques that you can harness to become more productive and start living the life that you want. What methods have you found helpful for developing healthy habits in your life? Do you have daily habits that you think improve your productivity?
Image Credits: Author Kyle Cassidy; Retrieved from http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Running_Man_Kyle_Cassidy.jpg; under licence ShareAlike 3.0 Unported http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode; no modifications were made