Creating Positive Habits

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I get asked a lot about how to handle “recurring tasks.”  Then I ask for clarification of what a “recurring task” means to the person.  Most of the time, what people are trying to figure out is how to incorporate new habits into their life.  The Empowered Productivity System is full of new habits.  So how do you replace those unproductive work habits with new, more productive ones?  And now that you mention it, how do you get yourself to exercise as much as you think you should, or find the time to read those books piling up on your nightstand?  Unfortunately, simply putting something on your calendar doesn’t mean it will definitely happen.

The best way to “remember” to do something new is to make it as automatic as you can.  Do as much as you can think of to ensure that the new behavior will occur.  Studies show that it takes at least 30 days for a new behavior to become a habit.  It’s also much easier to do things that don’t require any thought, because those take less energy.  Ask yourself, “what’s standing in the way of this happening?” and set yourself up so that any new behaviors happen as automatically as possible.  Trying to create a habit of working out in the morning?  Set your alarm clock on the shelf across the room.  Lay out your exercise clothes the night before.  Make plans with a friend to meet you at the gym.  Pay for a class or a personal training session.  All of these things will make it more likely that you will actually do the workout you scheduled on your calendar.  And every time you do that thing, it makes it more likely that you will do it again.  And again.  Until it becomes a habit.  Just like brushing your teeth. (You do have a habit of brushing your teeth, right? 😉

Brainstorm other ways to make your new behaviors routine, easy, and requiring no thought.  Tony Schwartz, author of The Power of Full Engagement, and all around genius in my book, wrote a great article about this for the Harvard Business Review.  You can find it here.  Definitely worth the read, as is most anything that he writes.

Creating a new habit is not as easy as creating a recurring appointment in your calendar.  But you really can do anything you set your mind to.  I hope these ideas help get you started.  Thanks for reading!

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