Habits and Productivity 101
Quick disclaimer: If some of you have read our original comparison guide on finding an app for productivity and setting habits, then you'll know we decided that "HabitWizard" was our choice. Therefore, we've decided to do a quick outline on you can easily get started by setting simple tasks and seeing serious results!
Sticking to a Habit: A Practical Guide
The hardest thing for most people, when it comes to building habits, is sticking to it long enough for it to become ingrained.
It’s why most people don’t exercise or eat healthy, why people procrastinate or have clutter or debt, why people smoke and drink soda, why people don’t meditate or learn a new skill or write everyday or read more books.
Simply put: if you can learn to stick to a habit, you can do almost anything.
Why You Don’t Stick to a Habit
The most common reasons people don’t stick to a habit: Habit is too difficult. You don’t enjoy doing it.Too many habits at once (habits are hard!). Too many other things going on.Changes in routine (sick, travel, big project at work). Not really motivated to do it. You talk yourself out of it. You miss a day or two and get discouraged. There are other reasons too: people actively discourage you from changing, or you think negative thoughts about your ability to change, or you overdo it in the beginning and then run out of enthusiasm.
The Rules for Sticking to a Habit
Now that we know all that we’re up against, it seems pretty tough, no? Actually, it’s not easy, but it’s definitely doable. Anything worth doing is going to take some work. You just need to set your mind to doing something tough, and be OK with the challenge.
That said, I have a set of rules to follow if you want to actually stick to new habits. You can ignore these rules, as most people do, and increase your likelihood of failure. Or you can try the rules, and see if they work for you (each person is different, so you have to figure out your own formula).
One Habit at a Time. This is incredibly important — most people ignore it because they underestimate how much focus it takes to actually stick to a new habit. It’s easy to start a habit, or even 5 of them at once. Sticking to them is another story. Don’t think you can do one fitness habit, one social habit, one work habit, etc. Start with only one. Do not break this rule.
A Tiny Habit. Do not focus on big results as you’re forming the new habit. Make the habit as tiny as possible and focus on doing it consistently. Whatever you think you should do, cut it in half. Then, if possible, cut it in half again. This is enough for now. The results will come later.
Once a Day. You might think you can change your entire diet all at once. Not bloody likely. Only do the habit once a day, and again, just for a few minutes each day. Once the habit is ingrained, you can expand, but wait at least 3 weeks before you even consider that.
Focus on Starting. The only thing you need to do is start. That’s the part of the habit that matters in the first month or so. Later on, you’ll run a marathon. For now, just put all your effort into lacing up your shoes and getting out the door. If you’re meditating, just get your butt on the cushion. If you’re eating healthy, just get your healthy snack in front of you, and take the first bite. If you’re writing, just close your browser, open a text document, and type the first sentence. Just start.
Enjoy Doing It. It’s really important that you get positive feedback for doing the habit, right away. Many people do a habit they hate, which is built-in negative feedback, and then wonder why they can’t stick to it. Do a habit you love, or find a way to enjoy doing the habit. Focus on the positive aspects of it. Also, praise yourself for doing it. Feel good about doing it. This is immediate reward, and it’s necessary.
Watch Your Thoughts. If you start to avoid the habit, or do the habit but feel discouraged, or ever feel like quitting … pay attention to these thoughts. Where are they coming from? Are you rationalizing quitting? Are you giving yourself some negative self-talk? Those thoughts aren’t real - they’re just defense mechanisms your brain uses to avoid discomfort. Let them go, and don’t let them have power over you. You can beat them with some positive self-talk.
Don’t Miss Two Straight Days. This is the key. If you let yourself miss a day, be absolutely sure, incredibly and powerfully sure, that you don’t miss a day again. Miss a day, and let all kinds of alarms go off: you should put yourself on emergency status and do everything possible to not miss the 2nd day. Don’t let yourself slip up again. If you do, you are never going to get good at habits. Don’t do it.
Be accountable. Tell at least one other person about your habit change, and ask them to keep you accountable. A group of 4-5 people is even better. It increases your likelihood of sticking to the habit by about 50% in my experience. How to Practice the Habit Skill
That might all seem like a lot to learn at once. So here is the trick and the key to success:
Start with the easiest possible habit.
If you’re not good at habits yet, then start with the most basic skills - don’t try to do ninja habit skills yet.
You want to practice the habit rules by doing something crazily easy. It may even seem a little ridiculous first, but you have to start practicing with very simple & easy routines if you really want to be good at it.
Some ideas for habits to start with: Drink a glass of water every morning.Wake up 10 min earlier.Spend 5 min planning your day. Eat one piece of fruit before lunch.Get up and stretch every 90 min.Go for a 5 min run after work.Write one sentence in your journal after dinner.Floss one tooth when you shower. Read one page before going to bed. Too easy? Try something harder, but if you fail, promise us you’ll try one of these.