New Habit

Habits that work

Inspiration is a weird fish. I promise you that. This time it hit me on 21:45 on Thursday on my way back home from meeting two people I really adore, Limor and Yan.

By the way, I’m currently listening to Bruce Springsteen’s album, ‘The Wrecking ball’, on Spotify. Do you use Spotify? I just got my premium account two months ago an I’m hooked . What are you listening to at the moment? Are you listening to mp3’s or streaming?

Today, I want to talk to you about habits. 

Ever since I got my Spotify account I’ve been listening to a whole lot of new music. It really changed my listening habits. It’s interesting how sometimes our habits are easily driven by the devices and platforms we use (tweet this) . Actually, habits can be adapted in two ways.

The way we gain habits

Habits are gained in two ways: We either fall into them or  work hard in adapting them. I’ll give an example for each.

I first started practicing Zen meditation about a year ago. What got me interested in meditation was the book ‘Zen mind, beginners mind’ by Shunryu Suzuki.  I read the book and started practicing Zen at home. The hardest part for me was to find the time to practice it, to get myself seated for twenty minuets  (or more) at a time. It was hard for two reasons:
1. Finding the time to do it with a busy schedule
2. Getting myself to sit for those 20 minuets straight – I mean, when was the last time you did nothing for 20 minuets but sit? Without glaring into your iPhone, Facebook, Getting a phone call etc.

 

At first I would practice day on, day off until I decided it’s something that really focuses, relaxes and empowers me. I started Putting 30 min of Zen meditation into my schedule and made sure I followed through. After two weeks it became a coherent part of my schedule. I can’t imagine not doing it even for a day. Practicing Zen meditation is now a habit i posses.

A habit you fall into is very hard to explain but easy to detect. Next time you do something that seems natural to you and you didn’t put the effort in acquiring it… that’s a habit you fell into. Just like the habit of being late to places, not planning ahead or postponing tasks. Reality kinda forces us into those habits sometimes, right? and they suck.

Habits can work for you. If you learn to manage them.

Old Habit

my old habit (Via my Instagram)

Habits you can work with

This is the part where my meeting with Limor and Yan plays a part. We were discussing our daily rituals (Another word for habits) regarding curating and catching up with news on Social Media, Start ups etc.

Taking the time to catch up with all that’s going on and choosing what content to share on your social networks is not a hard job, but it is time consuming. You need to sit yourself down and go through all the updates, process what you want to share, where and when.  Again, mainly time consuming. It’s a daily task, which easily gets pushed back for doing “Real Work” (mostly clients), family time etc.

In our conversation two interesting questions were asked ‘How do you get yourself to sit down and read so much everyday?” and ‘How do you find the time?”. Each of us had his/hers own method that was working. My key takeaway was that each one of us has found a way to incorporate this daily task with our already existing habits. Making it easier to implement into our lives and workflow. I’ll explain.

Making an old habit more productive

Here’s a fact about me most people don’t know or simply don’t care to know. I wake up everday around 07:00 o’Clock. Before 08:30 my brain is only partially awake. I can read, I can meditate – I can’t actually get focus enough to be truly creative and productive. What I can perfectly do is – drink coffee and read some updates. For a long time I used to go over my Facebook or Twitter feed, sometimes get an early glimpse of what’s expecting me on my inbox, but I never took action on those items before I was wide awake.  So my fall into habit was – getting up in the morning, meditate, drink coffee and go over my Facebook / Twitter / E-mail.

The habit I’ve worked hard to acquire is this: Getting up in the morning, meditate, drink my coffee while going over my latest Google Reader / Flipboard updates, load whatever seems interesting/ important enough onto my Buffer account (which distributes the content to my Social Media profiles on a pre-fixed schedule – We’ll talk about it this some other time) and that’s it. I’ve kept up to date, I’ve taken care of my social updates for the day and still have a few minuets before 08:30 to make my second cup of coffee and start my more ‘active’ part of the day.

What I did was take a habit I fell-into and extend it’s role (it took time of course)  by adding a daily task which I’d usually forget or didn’t find the time to do.

New Habit

My new habit (Via my Instagram)

How to acquire new productive habits

You can only add one habit at the time. That’s why people who start using To-do lists should stay away from the ‘finding the right app’ decease ‘. Don’t try to incorporate two new habits at a time (Starting to manage a to-do list, and start using a new app). Figure out how you can incorporate something that you already used to do with a new habit. If you’re a jogger that needs to stay up-to date, maybe you should start listening to podcasts while running instead of promising yourself to wake up an hour earlier every day. If you need to stat a new to-do list and you’re used to working with your desktop computer and Microsoft Office, simply open a new document with your daily to do lists, or add your daily tasks to your outlook (which you already work with all the time).

The secret behind gaining productive habits is that they have to be carefully implanted into your daily rituals (tweet this). You can’t change your entire behavior over-night and hope it’d stay consistent. The excitement of new resolutions wears off eventually, or something will interrupt your newly found working habits and you’ll get distracted and return to your old un-productive habits.  Find how you can ease yourself and adjust yourself to those new habits without dis-orienting yourself. Make them a part of the real existing you, not the ‘new not yet established you’ and you’ll get there.

What is the one habit you would love to adopt?

 

Comments 2

  1. Vernon

    The best method I’ve found to incorporate a new habit is to use checklists. I don’t agree with the point of only working on one habit at a time.

    Since research suggests that it can take a very long time to embed a habit, I am constantly tweaking at all my habits through the day.

    I’ve found that this habit not only helps me to build new habits, but often has unexpected positive aspects. For example, when I kept forgetting stuff for my gym bag (wallet one day, gym card another), I made a checklist of what to pack for gym. It worked perfectly, but I also found, with this ritual in place I almost never skip gym anymore.

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