To be more productive, it goes without saying that we must do things differently by beginning to do new types of activities or by eliminating others. The things we should begin doing are more productive ones and the things we should eliminate are the ones that are counterproductive. Common sense, right? After all, not changing anything means we will simply stay the same. However, that act of changing our habits can be difficult, as change is something that we humans sometimes do not handle well.
Stephanie Burns, a learning trainer, has shared some tips on installing new habits. The article is useful in that it gives doable tactics that help.
Summed up, it basically says to start small to establish a habit and then increase the frequency, number of repetitions, time involved, etc. The other main component is to make good habits easier and fun, while making those counterproductive habits unpleasant or hard.
This strategy seems to be going back to Tony Robbins’ statement that humans do things for two reasons: to either get the pleasure that lies within or associated with them or to avoid something that is unpleasant. We usually choose which ever is stronger. If one is overweight, the choice to not eat a piece of chocolate cake will be decided on which motivation is stronger: the pleasure of being thinner or the pleasure of eating that piece of cake. To help the decision along, Tony recommends taking action to make the option of being thinner more compelling and the option of eating the cake more unpleasant.
This article provides a list of ideas to do just that:
- Asking a friend to come by every day to do it with you.
- Promise yourself a reward for each action.
- Find someone you would not want to disappoint and make a promise to them.
- Think hard about how bad you will feel if you do not do it.
- Remember why the habit is important - what is the long term benefit.
- Make it hard to not do - set up obstacles and barriers so it is almost impossible to not do.
- Block your on-going movement.
- Or, make it easy to do - put it in your path.
- Delay the decision to not act - tell yourself to just start and then decide if you want to continue.
- To break a habit make what you are doing very hard to do.
- Remember to pat yourself on the back for every success in the right direction no matter how small.
- Notice and acknowledge what is working
- Spend the time you beat yourself for not doing what you should be doing by doing what you should be doing.
- Look for the smallest of improvements in your actions.
- One less is one less, one minute more is one minute more.
- Celebrate all successful behaviours no matter how small the change.
Nothing really new in this article, but it does remind us of things that we may have forgotten as strategies. If you get just one distinction that you may have forgotten or didn’t know about that makes a difference, then it’s worth the read.
[BTW — I’m not a Tony Robbins “disciple” as many people are, but I do own the CD’s and books. Although many people poo-poo his advice, he’d be the first to tell you he simply studied productivity and human behavior/performance literature, studies, and programs from the past and re-packaged them into his “system”, augmented with some of his own ideas. If you’ve studied the same literature, you can tell from where he draws his information. In any case, if you use it, the stuff actually works.]