I am big believer in good habits being a solid foundation to building a successful life, if you can add as many good habits as possible in different areas of your life you will in time be repaid by seeing your intended results.
Having good habits in your life is extremely important if you are to make the most of your time, if you have too many bad habits your time will get wasted and you will not be as productive as you want to be or as you should be, this will leave you feeling very frustrated and unfulfilled.
Wasting time in my view is horrendous, even just 5 minutes, you will never it get back, you can always earn more money but you can never get back more time.
I look at habits like this:
- Good Habits = Productive Use of My Time
- Bad Habits = Waste of My Time
Good habits can be easy to introduce in to our lives but how can we make them stick so we can really make the most of our time?
You need to believe that you are truly making the most from your available time in your day, every day.
The best way to start a good habit and make it stick is by using certain techniques, these are simple but effective “tricks” that we can play on the mind to help us make a start on a task or a project.
So what techniques can we use to introduce good habits into our lives to enable a more productive day?
The Five-Minute Technique
Using the “five-minute technique” you should be able to not only start a habit that you wish to introduce but over time you will actually find yourself going well over the five-minute marker and doing more than you originally intended.
All you need to do is basically convince yourself that you will not spend any more than five minutes working on the intended habit so grab a stopwatch and time yourself, when the five minutes is up simply stop at the point you are at, if you feel the need to carry on then do so.
It is easy to trick the mind to spend such a short amount of time on a good habit and, as mentioned earlier, more often than not you will find yourself going over the five-minute marker, sometimes way over. This can really have a huge impact on your life and bring a lot of positive change.
Are you looking to bring various habits into your life but put them off because they all seem to be far too time consuming? I agree that time is far too precious to waste so we need to spend our time wisely.
Most smartphones have a stopwatch on them so it easy to time yourself to see just how long a new habit actually takes.
One way to work out what works for you and what will not, is by experimenting with different habits as a one-off and then timing how long it takes you to complete the tasks. This normally works for two reasons:
- You convince yourself that this new experiment is simply that, just a one-off so you easily put your heart into it to make a start, perhaps it will take far too long so you convince yourself to proceed, perhaps you will never do it again so why not give it a go?
- You are curious to find out how long it will actually take to complete a new habit. Will it actually take that long to do? It can be intriguing to know if it really is that big an ask. Is this new habit really that bad? You are intrigued to know the outcome so you will make a start to see the result. Perhaps it will be not be so bad after all?
Most tasks normally even get completed quicker than what you had originally planned, this makes you wish you had actually introduced it in to your life sooner.
The Solar Flare Technique
This technique is based on how a solar flare acts. Basically a solar flare starts off very small and then over time it grows into something huge. Can you put a similar thought pattern into making your good habits stick? Perhaps commit a few minutes to a task in the first week and commit more time as the month continues.
Start small and build up blocks, for instance if you feel like you would like to take up walking to introduce some exercise in to your life then start by just walking around the block, build up the distance over time and before you know it by the end of the month you could be walking for a few miles each session.
The Pomodoro Technique
I love this technique; this can be great for seeing tasks right through to the end and really making habits stick. The Pomodoro technique is where you work on your task for a set amount of time and give yourself a break for an allotted amount of time. The most commonly suggested way of using this technique is by working on something for 25 minutes and then stopping for five minutes and allowing yourself a break to do whatever it is that you wish to do.
By knowing that you have a dedicated time slot coming up that you are free to do as you wish makes it far easier to put a big burst of energy into the habit or task that you are currently involved in.
Work Out Why You Are Not Able To Get Started
This is a great technique to try to understand more about yourself and what is stopping you from actually making start on the task ahead or the good habit that you wish to develop. Simply write down the reasons why you think that you are not doing the things that you wish to be doing.
This approach can be used in pretty much every circumstance. Once you rule out the excuses your frame of mind should change allowing you to make a start on developing your good habit.
Use An Accountability Tool
This is a great tool that not only serves as a reminder about what you should be doing but also confirms how much you have actually achieved.
There are two ways I can suggest that you use an accountability tool:
- A calendar – Purchase a calendar and a marker pen, then simply go to a date in the future and put an X on it using the marker, this can signify a date that you wish to be able to look at to be sure that you have accomplished a specific goal by the intended date, e.g. write 500 words for a whole month totalling at least 15,000 words as end goal.
You have now set yourself a target to reach by a chosen date. A deadline can put pressure on us but at the same time we tend to act better if we know that we have to complete a task by a certain day.
For every day that you complete the good habit over the course of the month simply put an X through the relevant day; seeing a lot of Xs in a row gives you a great sense of achievement and will keep you highly motivated to make the habit stick until the deadline.
- Use an app – I use apps to help me with my writing habit. Apps can be great to use to help track your progress, keep you on your toes and ensure that you make the habit stick.
Habit Bull App
The app I would recommend is the Habit Bull app, this app acts in a similar way to the Calendar Technique: when you have created an account you then enter in the name of the habit that you wish to start; once created you then log in each day to record your progress and confirm that you have completed the task for that particular date; a circle is then placed around the date of completion.
I find that seeing a run of dates that I have completed on my smartphone really helps keep me motivated and keeps my mind focused, seeing a streak gives me a lot of encouragement to continue for as many dates as possible.
You can also use the Habit Bull app and the Calendar Technique to track how long you have stopped a bad habit, e.g. if you bite your nails, use the calendars in the same way and try to build up a streak of days when you have not succumbed to temptation. After 30 days you should be in a position to stop tracking the amount of days that you have not bitten your nails for, as the bad habit should hopefully now be out of your system, and you can simply move onto the next bad habit that you wish to eliminate from your life and repeat the procedure.
Using these techniques has not only allowed me to start several new good habits but has also given me help in making them stick over a long period.
Good luck in creating good habits in your life to lead a more productive life and to make the most of your time!