7 STEPS TO CREATE PRODUCTIVE HABITS IN 21 DAYS
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Did you know 95% of your thoughts, beliefs and actions are a result of habit? The results in your life – whether good or bad – are largely a result of habits, consciously or unconsciously acquired.
Your habits will determine whether you reach your goals. This is because habits are actions that are repeated regularly. Most goals require you to perform a behaviour many times before see the result. For example, you won’t become excellent at time management after using your calendar for one day. You need to follow time management principles consistently in order to realise the benefits.
Your current levels of productivity are also a result of your habits in this area. Highly productive people have developed habits such as waking up early, being organised, planning their day in advance and using a time management system – all of which lead to increased productivity.
These new behaviours may seem difficult to learn, however once you have established them as ‘habits’ they will then feel natural and normal, and become ‘automatic’ for you. At this point, you no longer need to think about the activity or motivate yourself to perform it.
By making even small changes to your habits and productivity you can see a dramatic impact over time. For example, if you become just one tenth of one percent more productive each day, you will become two percent more productive each month. This equates to being 26% more productive each year and doubling your productivity and performance every 2.7 years!The same is also unfortunately true for bad habits. For example, wasting 1 hour per day on TV or surfing the Internet might not seem like much but it adds up to 365 hours per year which is equivalent to 15 full 24-hour days or 45 8-hour work days!
Therefore, it makes sense to establish good productive habits and eliminate unproductive habits as the effects compound over time.
The good news is that you can break a bad habit or create a good habit in as little as 21-30 days. In addition, the positive effects of making small habit changes often spill over into many areas of your life. For example, developing productive work habits may mean you are able to get your work done more quickly meaning you can spend more time with your family, devote more time to religious activities, and result in a job promotion.
Below is a quick overview on how to develop good habits and eliminate poor habits in 7 simple steps.
——— Develop Self Awareness ———
The first step in changing your habits is to develop greater awareness around them – after all, you can’t change something you’re not aware of!
You need to identify any bad habits you need to break and good habits you want to create. You then need to develop awareness around the habit itself and record when, why, how and where you do your bad habit or what you are doing instead of your good habit. This will help to identify any likely causes or triggers and help you identify solutions.
——— Set a Goal ———
You need to decide what you want instead of your current habit. For example, if your bad habit is getting up late, your new habit goal may be “getting up at 7am on weekday mornings”. Your outcome needs to follow SMART goal setting rules of being Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound.
——— Get Motivated ———
To perform your new behaviour enough times until it becomes a habit, you need to be sufficiently motivated. Because changing a deeply ingrained habit can be difficult, it is important to have daily motivation to successfully change the habit. Make a list of the benefits and reasons why you want to make the change and read over this daily. Consider the consequences of not following through on your habit – what will you lose if you fail to create this habit ?
——— Planning & Strategy ———
Next you need to create a plan and strategy for overcoming your bad habit or developing a positive new habit. It is important to write your plan down. This makes it more concrete and real and will enable you to think more clearly, in greater detail and with greater focus.You will also need to include reminders before your activity becomes a habit. Use external alarms, reminders and sticky notes as appropriate. Put padlocks or obstacles in your way of doing a bad habit.
——— Mental Preparation ———
To successfully change a habit, it is important to deal with any negative beliefs surrounding your habit; if you don’t do so, then another negative behaviour might emerge to replace it. In addition, it will be much easier to change your habit if you are working with your belief system rather than fighting against it. For example, if you believe you “will never learn” how to be more productive, you won’t be motivated to make any changes. Eliminate any negative self talk and start to reinforce images of yourself successfully completing your new habit.
——— Implementation ———
To successfully condition a habit you will need to perform the habit every day for 21-30 days.During this time you will require both conscious focus and willpower. You will have to ‘consciously focus’ and ‘remember’ to do the new behaviour rather than the default behaviour. You will also need ‘willpower’ to force yourself to do the new behaviour if it something you find difficult or unpleasant. By making small incremental changes you will reduce the amount of willpower required. It is better to make a small change you can sustain than to make a large change that you’ll give up on after a week.
——— Record, Refine & Review ———
To ensure you reach your goal, it is essential that you record your progress and refine and review your habit daily. You can then identify any obstacles that may have prevented you from completing your habit and avoid them in the future. Seeing in writing the progress you are making towards you goal will also inspire you to keep going for the full 21-30 days.