“Life is too complicated not to be orderly.” –Martha Stewart
Once you have identified your bad productivity habits and know the root reason you do them, it’s time to begin fixing them. Charles Duhigg reports in his book, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What WE Do in Life and Business, “that 40% of the actions people performed each day weren’t actual decisions, but habits.”
Changing those bad habits isn’t just going to make you feel better. It can help you succeed in your goals. So how do you change your bad productivity habits if you’re on autopilot every day? You want to create new habits that will become routine.
- Start by changing one single habit at a time. You might feel like if you change this one thing then you have to change that one and that one too. For example, maybe you constantly check your email throughout the day, because you over plan your schedule.
First, you are multitasking. This is a big no-no, when it comes to effectively focusing and being productive. Next instead of trying to change each of these habits, start with the one that is causing the worst problem. It could be over planning your schedule. Instead, plan out just a few things to accomplish and attend to for the week. Leave room for down time, social time, and for actually working.
2. Don’t stop immediately. Instead notice the number of times you do something and cut back gradually. For example, how many times a day do you find yourself browsing the web? Of those times, how often have you clicked on a link that takes you to something totally unrelated to what you were researching? You follow the links and an hour later, you can’t remember what you were searching for to begin with. This bad habit kills your productivity quickly because you have to refocus and start over.
Instead, each time you open your web browser set a limit to the number of sites you can visit and a time limit, say 10 minutes, to find what you are searching for.
3. Don’t change your behavior if it’s a trigger that needs to be changed. Get rid of the Facebook app that draws you in on your phone. It’s a pain to uninstall and reinstall the app each time you want use it. Maybe it’s a person or situation that is causing your bad productivity habit.
Remove the triggers or make them more difficult to get to. This helps you get rid of the habit. If it’s a person or situation, find ways to avoid them whenever possible. Change the situation if you need to.
4. Treat it like a goal or plan. If you want to overcome a bad habit, come up with a plan or a good strategy to follow. And then follow it. Maybe you want to get in shape but instead of getting up early to exercise, you lazy on the sofa with a cup of coffee and crisps. You tell yourself you’ll start tomorrow, but never do.
Instead, create a plan on how you can get more exercise into your day. Add 10-minute walks to your daily calendar. Build in healthier ways to eat.
5. Replace the bad productivity habit with a good habit. The brain finds it easier to do something new instead of stopping something you habitually do. This is difficult for some people but if you have the motivation to change you can succeed in replacing the bad habit. For example, you have a bad habit of hitting the snooze button repeatedly. This makes you late and running behind all day.
Replace this habit with a new one of setting your alarm for 10 minutes earlier and only hit the button once or turn it off immediately and get up. This will take willpower and will feel odd at first but with time and commitment can become your new norm.
Changing and fixing your bad habits can be challenging but it can be done with motivation, perseverance and some planning.