It is easy to form a bad habit, but I think it is difficult (at least in the beginning) to form a good habit that sticks. This applies to time management as well.
There are certain ways that can help you to become more efficient in your everyday life. Some of the habits that I currently execute on daily basis are:
- Planning my day the night before
- Having a morning and evening routines
- Having my goals clear in my mind
- Doing the most important task the first thing in the morning
- Batching as much as I can (batching means grouping as many similar tasks together and do them at once)
It seems that there are lots of habits to follow, but on the other hand, once you nail them down, you do them automatically – on a subconscious level. You don’t necessarily even think about those things anymore, because they have become your second nature.
So why do you need your habits anyway? Because, if you are like me and have a 9-5 job, it becomes important to take advantage of your time outside the work, the best way possible. By creating these small habits, your life has structure and you get things done faster and easier. You are not wasting your valuable time on small things, which eventually eat all your time when being out of the office.
How to form a habit?
I have heard many times being said, that it takes somewhere between 21-30 days to form a habit. That means, you are consistently (on daily basis) doing something, and if you “break the chain” (fail to execute your new habit even in one day), you have to start all over.
However, I can tell from experience, that sometimes it takes more time than 30 days to make a habit stick, so this may be dependent on the habit you are trying to achieve.
Also, doing just one change at a time rather than multiple at once is the better way to succeed. However, I feel that this depends on the situation and what kind of habits you want to execute in your daily routines.
For example, getting rid of too many projects (first habit), so that you have time to exercise (second habit), goes hand in hand and support each other (you free up your time for exercising activities).
“Sometimes it takes more time than 30 days to make a habit stick”
Planning your habit
Before you start creating a new habit, you should have a plan in place. Maybe an overview of the next 30 days before you begin, so that you can see what is going to happen in your calendar and if any of those events are going to have effects on your habit project.
Let’s say that you want to start waking up earlier every day (6 AM). It means that you should get to bed earlier as well. When you look at your calendar, you realize that next week you are going to throw a party for your friends, which probably means that you are not going to go to bed early enough. Also, you realize that you are going to take a small trip with your spouse to visit your relatives in another town and you are going to stay there for a weekend.
Those two events (hosting a party and visiting relatives over the weekend) may cause you to break the habit of going to bed at 10.30 PM and waking up at 6 AM if that was your original plan.
If this was the case for me, I would start as normal, but acknowledge the fact, that it may not be possible to keep up with the new pattern each day. Instead, realizing that as soon as the situation is over, you can get back to the original plan and continue to go to bed at 10.30 PM (so that you can wake up at 06.00 AM)
Eventually, when you keep doing this, your new habit is being formed. You then realize that when going to sleep some other time than 10.30 may feel weird.
Be consistent and persistent
It takes some time to reach the state where you can say that you have formed a new habit, but the path there is something, that should be taken, if you want to change yourself at least a bit. By being consistent and persistent, you can achieve this.
You can even have an accountability partner, to whom you report your daily actions related to this new habit (did you go to bed early or not), so there is a small pressure on you to do it as you promised.
Also, you should realize why you want the habit in the first place. You should have a very strong motivation behind your new habit so that you find it compelling to work on until it sticks.
For example, working on your business every day before going to work, may not be good enough. However, when you associate that with a fact, that if you don’t do that, you will be in your same job after 5 years as to where you are now, gives a bigger incentive to work hard on your goals every morning.
“By being consistent and persistent, you can make the habit stick”
Unlearn the bad habits
Not only is it important to learn new habits that help you in your time management efforts, but you should also unlearn bad habits as well. The key here is to replace a bad habit with a good one.
For me, these bad habits have been for example:
- Getting too little sleep
- Eating too many sugary foods
- Being involved in too many personal projects simultaneously
I can say that I’m still learning away from these bad habits (especially the first one), but also I have already acknowledged that I have them, so that is a start. And actually, I have started forming good ones to replace the bad ones already, so things are already going forward
The main takeaways from this chapter are:
- Acknowledge your bad habits and replace them with good ones
- In order to form a habit, it should be done consistently and regularly
- Plan your habit before you start building it – can you execute new habit consistently in order to make it stick?
- If you “break the chain”, start over – enough repetition will eventually form a new habit
Some new successful habits to form in your business are:
- Wake up earlier to work on your business before getting to work
- Have enough rest to boost your productivity and creativity
- Make a regular schedule of what to do when – for example, dedicate certain time for creating blog posts, promoting your content, or network with other entrepreneurs
- Exercise regularly – physical fitness improves your stress handling capabilities
- When you work, you work and you are not doing anything else then. For example, checking your e-mail, Twitter, or Facebook while you work is a big no-no.
- Figure out if there are any parts of the business that could be automated or outsourced. If you are working 9-5 you can for example budget some (or all) of the expenses by your salary
- Work on a small chunk and have breaks in between – like 30-minute chunks with a 5-10 minute breaks between the sessions