Update #1 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GreDSgNeNAM
I have been struggling with my productivity for years, developing some nasty habits that are now stopping me from being the best version of myself. Productivity is not a new subject to me, I have read book about it like 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Dr. Stephen Covey (highly recommended) and attended courses that address this matter like “Learning how to learn” course in Coursera. But as you know, bad habits are hard to get rid off. So i’m trying a new approach, starting a 30 day challenge! Basically putting myself on blast, where if I fail everyone knows.
What’s a bad habit and why do we do it?
I generally have a good sense of when I do something I shouldn’t be doing. To be considered a bad habit it as to have the following characteristics:
- I start doing it unconsciously (sometimes I open Facebook without realizing… I know it’s embarrassing)
- No value added having into account my current activities (I can spend a whole day watching documentaries about quantum mechanics but come on… what’s the point?)
But why do we do something that do not bring us anything good? Because of your primitive part of the brain, the part that wants to have all the fun NOW and doesn’t care about the future. I present to you the hypothalamus. It produces dopamine, the neurotransmitter responsible for pleasure. When some environmental element triggers your habit (someone talk with you on Facebook and you hear the chat sound) the brain sees an opportunity to get insta pleasure!
“Infographic by Clara Prieto – www.claraprieto.com
Identify the bad habits and do a Not-To-Do List
By now you should know the things you really are not proud of. Just ask yourself this question when you are in bed ready to sleep: “Do I feel satisfied with what I did today?” So for me, my bad habits are:
- Facebook surfing;
- Watching Youtube videos;
- Constantly checking my email;
From here should be easy to do your No-To-Do List. If you don’t do any of this things you can finish the important stuff you need to do!
Understand and fight against procrastination
Everyone procrastinates. But do you know the mechanisms behind it? Personally if I understand how it works, makes me feel more in control and that I can do something about it. The mechanism it’s more or less the same described before (dopamine and pleasure) but there are some triggers that start the chain reaction. I will describe each known trigger and how can we use it for our own benefit.
|Mechanism||Description||How to benefit from it|
|Cue||An event that triggers the bad habit i.e cellphone or email popup.||Stop the cue from happening i.e disable internet connection|
|Routine||The cue triggers a routine are now you are in "zombie mode".||Plan a new routine like studying in the library or use the "pomodoro technique"|
|Reward||Instant reward you feel while procrastinating||After accomplishing your task, reward yourself! Associating a new habit with a reward will increase the success rate|
|Belief||The belief that the bad habit it's part of you and you can't change it||Hang out with people who have the same philosophy of change and improvement|
Time for the wish list!
The objective here is to spend less time doing useless things and focus on the things we enjoy doing. Once we are done with our To-Do list it would be kinda stupid to fall back to mindless Facebook or Youtube surfing. So too keep it smart, we need a list of possible activities to fill our precious time.
Daily To-Do List
Ahhh To-do lists, everyone loves them and almost everyone do them the wrong way. Before starting compiling a list that resembles an invitation for a weeding, identity what is important for you. For me would be studying for the university. This list should reflect the new good habits
- Before going to bed, make your to-do list;
- The list should not have more than 2 or 3 things to do;
- Be specific in your objectives (Running it’s to broad, running 1 hour or 5 km is more specific and process oriented)
- Don’t put relationships in the list. “Hanging out with girlfriend” it’s not a to-do, it’s something you do when you are done with your chores.
Let’s get rid of this unnecessary habits and get closer to the best version of ourselves! We are the only ones who can change ourselves. I hope this post and video helps you and I am super curious to see everyone’s response to this challenge! Share your process on this blog or on Road Delta’s Youtube channel.
INSPIRATION FOR THIS POST
- TIM FERRIS BLOG – From fast-learning to heath and fitness to cooking, here you can find the gold nuggets.
- 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Dr. Stephen Covey
- A Mind for Numbers by Dr. Barbara Oakley