From biting fingernails to dunking cookies in milk, we are creatures of habit. And as such, these habits follow us into our personal and professional lives whether we like it or not. So is there such a thing as a bad habit? Or a good one?
Aren’t they all just habits?
Sadly no. Some can cause detrimental consequences in your life. Such as distractions or procrastination. On the other hand, good habits can produce excellent results like impressive productivity or admirable organizational skills.
BestSelf has put together the “how to” guide for identifying bad habits, developing good habits, and as a result, boosting productivity.
Beware the Bad Habits
Not all habits are created equal, and some could be bringing you down and you don’t even know it. But have no fear! We’re here to help you identify and eliminate them for good! A habit, good or bad, is known as a behavior that happens so regularly that it becomes involuntary, such as washing your hands after using the restroom. All habits are learned at some point and it’s up to each particular person to determine what sticks. You don’t come out of your mother’s womb cracking your knuckles. Like all habits, they are preluded by some sort of action or emotion. Most people bite their nails when they’re bored or anxious. Likewise, we look both ways before crossing the street.
The first step in breaking bad habits is figuring them out and writing them down. Using your Self Journal, write down the top 5 habits that you feel are keeping you from being your BestSelf. For example, here are 5 we assembled:
1. Reactive instead of Proactive
Meaning you often react to situations rather than being prepared for them. No one can plan ahead for every problem but what you can do is, before starting a work assignment or committing to something, think about possible problems that can arise instead of jumping in with both feet and being caught unaware.
2. Over promise and under deliver
This is when you promise someone something and rather than making good on that promise, you deliver a less than satisfactory result. It’s much better to Underpromise and Overdeliver when it comes to your performance. You don’t need to undersell yourself, but make sure you can make good on your promise and if possible, exceed it.
Waiting until the last minute, doing the bare minimum, and hoping someone else will pick up the slack...we all have been guilty of procrastination at one point or another. And laziness is just another way of hoping someone else will handle what we don’t want to handle. 'Not many things say “this is someone else’s problem now” more than a leaf blower.’ And that’s exactly the type of habit that’s going to kill your productivity. Anything left until the last minute (except a pan of brownies in the oven) is going to come out subpar. Your personal life doesn’t deserve that nor does your professional one.
Whether you’re slouching at your desk, or crossing your arms during a confrontation, bad body language is a huge give away of how you’re feeling on the inside. While it’s healthy to have a wide range of emotions, you don’t want everyone knowing what you’re thinking all the time based off your body language.
5. Saying Yes to everything
A lot of times you may feel like you’re not doing enough. Chances are if that’s something you’re worried about, then you’re probably doing more than most! If you keep agreeing to things you know you can’t handle, you risk burning yourself out and falling into the “over promising and under delivering” habit.
So now that you’ve identified 5 of your own bad habits, how do you break them?
WebMD suggests writing down what triggers that particular habit to flare up. Whether it’s a confrontation at work, dreading an assignment, or not knowing how to say no and then making a pros and cons list. In doing so, you’ll be able to really understand why it’s hurting you to have each habit and you’ll be more committed to ditching them. Once you’re at that point, you’ll be ready to replace them with healthy ones.
Embrace the Healthy Habits
Healthy habits are actions that produce good results in your life and boost productivity. Often times, they come in the form of healthy eating or regular exercise. Other good habits include:
Some people are more organized than others, but it is a learned skill, and one that everyone can achieve. Start with something simple such as organizing this week’s schedule, or beginning to budget by tackling this month’s bills and expenses.
Using our 13-Week Wall Calendar, you can decide on your goals (keep them simple!) and have them available in front of you to chart your progress and celebrate your achievements.
Business News points out that 40% of adults are getting less sleep than what is recommended. Sleep is essential to your productivity and not something you should forgo when you’re working on bettering yourself.
Begin with the End in Mind
We can’t go over healthy habits without bringing in one from the great habit maker himself: Stephen Covey. When he says “Begin with the end in mind,” he is referring to having a clear vision of where each task you start needs to end up and planning ahead. It goes along with the bad habit of simply reacting to consequences rather than being proactive.
Listen/Reiterate and Implement
Stephen Covey also said: “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” The best way you can show people you’re listening is by reiterating what they are saying and, if action is required, implementing what they asked you to do. A great way to improve your productivity is introducing concepts you have learned from other people into your habits.
Now that you’re in a position to introduce good habits to replace your old ones, you’re ready to take action. Two things to remember are 1- Rome wasn’t built in a day: It’s going to take some to turn these desires into habits. 2- Start small. Don’t over commit yourself, under commit and over deliver!
So let’s tackle Rome first shall we? We’ve all heard it takes around 21 days to get a habit to stick. That’s not necessarily true for everyone though. It really depends on the person when it comes to some sort of time frame. For some, it does only take a few weeks, for others a few months. So don’t be discouraged! You’ll get there! For now, make a commitment to consistently do them for 30 days. If it’s easier you can work on one habit at a time or you can do all 5.
For the second part, starting small is the best way to not get overwhelmed. Anchoring your new habit to a regular one can be a good way to start. These can be things like:
- Attending your Monday conference meetings
- Reading a book before bed
- Going through your social media/Calendar each day
For example, if one of your new habits is to begin with the end in mind, take a moment after your Monday conference meeting to first hash out what you need to accomplish for the week, and then make a list of what you want to come out of meeting that goal and troubleshooting possible negative scenarios.
As another example, if you read every night before bed, commit yourself to only reading for an allotted amount of time and go to bed earlier. And finally, if you’d like to become more organized, when you’re going through your social media, take a moment to calendar events that you have coming up while you’re at it. Basically, you’re attaching a new good habit to something you’re already doing on a daily or weekly basis.
Remember, these are good habits for you and no one else. Make sure you pick habits that will inspire you to be your BestSelf and motivate you. Don’t feel overwhelmed, and if you get discouraged, just remember that everyone falls off the bandwagon, but there will always be other riders there to help pull you back on.
Strengthening your Productivity
Habits are habits and people have them. But that doesn’t mean you can’t turn them into tools, and with them at your disposal, have the means you need to boost your productivity and outperform yourself on a daily basis. Healthy habits can help you to use your free time to be more productive, limit distractions, and be more organized. Once they’re in effect, you’ll be surprised what you’re capable of.
So don’t be afraid to ditch those bad ones, except singing in the shower, that will always be allowed (sorry honey), and embrace the new ones that will change your life for the better!