7 Steps to Forming Productive Habits

Hand check mark the listUse these brain games to become more efficient.

  1. Schedule it. Enter onto your calendar every new productive habit you want to establish, whether it’s exercising, waking earlier, having a date night with your spouse, or healthy eating. Treat these as important as appointments with other people.
  2. Commit to Thirty Days – Three to four weeks is all the time you need to make a habit automatic. If you can make it through the initial conditioning phase, it becomes much easier to sustain. A month is a good block of time to commit to a change since it easily fits in your calendar.
  3. Worst first. Before quitting time, ask yourself, “If I got nothing else accomplished tomorrow, what would be the one thing I must do to have a productive day?” In the morning, sit down and knock out that task before you touch anything else—even email.
  4. Try the opposite. If you usually eat when you feel stressed, try exercising instead. Form a new brain pattern, rather than indulge the old.
  5. Associate With Role Models - Spend more time with people who model the habits you want to mirror. A recent study found that having an obese friend indicated you were more likely to become fat. You become what you spend time around.
  6. Discipline yourself. Evaluate your time and weed out bad habits—excessive Facebook checking or perhaps handling personal business during work hours. Turn off alerts and flashing notifications so you can stay focused.
  7. Reward yourself. You have to decide what little reward to give yourself each day.  Maybe your reward involves your espresso maker. Use it daily, but only after completing your new habit. Sticking with a new habit will become easier as you look forward to your reward.

Fortunately, habits are easier to make than they are to break. If you repeat these behaviors often enough, new synaptic pathways will form. Then repeat—and repeat again—until your new priorities are ingrained.