“Excellence is not an act, but a habit.  The things you do the most are the things that you do the best.” ~Marva Collins

We all are in the habit of doing certain things, whether they are supportive or non supportive habits.  Your habits are a prime factor in what leads you to being productive or not.  They make the difference when it comes to getting things done.  The aforementioned quote says it all.  Whatever you do all the time is what you do best.  If you have a habit that doesn’t support you in being productive, it’s still something that you do best because you do it all the time, and being good at whatever that is will keep you from your top level of productivity.  Habits make you who you are.

A habit is defined as “routine of behavior that is repeated regularly, tends to occur subconsciously, without directly thinking consciously about it”.  Since your habits determine who you are, and make the difference when it comes to being productive, it’s important to establish habits that will support you.  As a part of that process, it’s important to let go of the notion of “good” or “bad” habits.  Habits just are what they are, they aren’t good or bad.  They’re just habits.  When you let go of the “good” or “bad” you also let go of the judgment that comes along with that.  Doing so is key in establishing habits that will help you stay at your top level productivity.

To make the shift, create new habits that will get you through your busy days.  Start by looking at your current habits and determine which ones don’t support you.  Those are the ones you should work to eliminate.  Then determine what new habits you will create.  As you do, think about who it is that you would have to be instead of what it is that you have to do.  Given that you are your habits, this is the place you want to create from.  If you focus on being instead of doing, it’s much easier to end up with great new habits that will get you through your days.   In your effort to increase your productivity, one list of habits to look at is Stephen Covey’s list of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  This list is straight to the point and its principles if established as habits can help you become more productive. Use it to help you in making that shift.

  • Habit 1: Be Proactive-take responsibility for every aspect of your life. Initiative and taking action will then follow
  • Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind-set long-term goals, consider creating a personal mission statement and visualization as a tool to develop it
  • Habit 3: Put First Things First-focus on long-term goals instead of things that are more urgent and less important and prioritize the work related to your long-term goals
  • Habit 4: Think Win/Win-with an attitude like this, everybody wins.  See mutually beneficially solutions to satisfy yourself and others
  • Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood-completely listen to another person’s concerns and don’t give advice before you understand a person and their situation
  • Habit 6: Synergize-work effectively in teams by collaborating, valuing differences and building on divergent strengths
  • Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw-engage in carefully selected recreational activities that offer self renewal so that you can regain your “production capability”

You can see that if you made these seven principals habits, that they would help you in creating and maintain habits that support your productivity. Looking at the 7 Habits, you can also see in them who it is that you would have to be to have each particular habit.  The way of being is what makes you your habits, whether that way of being gets you where you want to go or not.

To shift into habits that support you, you first have to understand that it takes 21 days to develop a new habit.  That’s the amount of time that it takes to train the brain.  I recommend that you give yourself 30 days for each new habit you want to develop.  You might think that’s a long time, but it really isn’t.  Trying to change more than a few habits at one time can be self destructive, so be patient and honor the process.

Start by writing down the new habits that you want to develop.  Your head is a dangerous place for commitments to hang out.  When you write them down they become real and you start to gain clarity about what you want to create and what that means for you.  It also helps to keep you committed.

Once you have that clarity, enroll someone in supporting you.  Share with them what habit you’re giving up and what you are creating.  Keep them in the loop on how you’re doing and of any challenges that come up for you.  Allow them to help you through the rough spots and get you back on track so that you can successfully develop the new habits.  Make sure that your new habits are consistent and that you do them every day for 30 days.  If that doesn’t work, step up to the next level of accountability and get a coach.

Understand that you are going to go through a process with your new habits.  The first 30 days will present some challenges and you might even feel as though you want to quit.  After a few months it becomes easier to keep the commitment and things run smooth at that point.  Once you’ve reached a year or so, it becomes harder to not be in the habit because that habit has become part of your routine and part of who you are.

Think about all of your habits.  What are you committed to creating right now and what habits do you need to develop in order to have what you want to create become a reality?  More importantly, who is it that you have to commit to being to create what you want?