Habits are the difference between a person who achieves their dreams and a person who merely daydreams. If you don’t have appropriate habits to support your resolutions and goals, they are just going to become the next unfulfilled daydream.
I am guilty of being a daydreamer instead of an achiever. This is the third post I’ve made in 2019. My writing fell off a cliff in 2018 because I changed my routines and changed focus to another business for a time (BTW, it didn’t really work, but that’s a topic for another time). This changed my habits, and thus my output. I need to fix my habits again.
When are Your Most Valuable Hours in a Day?
The time of day that you do your best work should be understood, protected, and optimized. We use phrases like “I’m a night person” or “I’m a morning person” or, “I’m an afternoon person” regularly. This implies that we each have a different cadence in our mental capability.
Daniel H. Pink wrote a book called “When”, completely based on this idea. If you know your best time for productivity and your best time for creativity, then divide up your day and organize your routines around that.
Spend some time building a weekly time architecture, which focuses on when you’ll do specific types of tasks for each hour of the week.
Account for Decision Fatigue
Thinking and making decisions are a muscle of the brain. Making decisions is hard mental work. Some jobs require you to make a large number of intense decisions, which cause you to go into decision fatigue. Your brain gets tired just like your muscles get tired after running a marathon or doing an intense session at the gym. My wife and I have both been in the place where we just can’t make a decision, not because it’s hard, but because we’ve made so many decisions already that day. A 10-pound dumbbell is not heavy, but it feels VERY heavy after you’ve done hundreds of reps in a day.
Put your most important decisions first in the day and immediately after mental breaks. Work your decisions like you would work a heavy bench press at the gym, or a sprint. If you’ve been making lots of decisions, give yourself a mental break before the next critical topic and do a few mundane, less mentally taxing tasks.
Make Space, Decide Which Habits to STOP
I have some terrible time-sucks in my life. Prime Videos, YouTube, and Netflix are all designed to keep you sucked in. I also have much less energy and tend to have less self-control late in the evening. Which, makes me watch more shows, stay up later, and have more blue light disruption of my circadian rhythm.
We all know what habits to stop.
You can’t start new habits without making room for those new habits. Without room, you’re sure to fail.
Logging out of and deleting Facebook on my phone (or your most addictive social networks) was one of the best things I did in 2019. I felt the habit of wanting to look at Facebook for a few weeks, but that subsided quickly. When I logged in for the first time in three months I was amazed at how little Facebook was actually telling me things that mattered.
Maximize the use of Algorithmic Suggestions
Netflix, Spotify, and Google are masters at algorithmic suggestions of content. But they’re optimized to keep you engaged because they make more money that way. They’re not optimized to maximize productivity or give you the content that will benefit you the most.
Push notifications and algorithmic suggestions create habits by guiding your focus.
I’ve tried many different platforms to deliver content that I actually learn from. But all with varying levels of success. Do you have any suggestions? What tools do you use to push reading and information that helps you learn what you want to focus on?
Learn Habit Control: Start with One
Learn how to make habits by choosing ONE new habit. Don’t boil the ocean. Changing habits is HARD. Master the art of creating and stopping your habits at will, not just creating the current habit of the month.
It’s more important to learn how to control your habits than to have five great new habits.
My new habit for the year is going to be waking up at 5 am every day of the week and spend two hours on my side hustle. I’ll move some other stuff around to support this new habit. This actually sounds like it’ll be pretty easy for me. Which is the point. I’m not trying to change a hard habit right now, I’m looking for something relatively easy that I can use to learn how to effectively create a new habit at will.