I realised in June, when I was in Germany, there's a real misconception with productivity and especially (productive) habits. I read a lot about habits and how, if you perform your daily habit, you should reward yourself and if you don't, you've 'failed'. I think this is half-true, but I also don't think it should be polarised like this.
The realisation I had was: you can replace productive habits with other productive habits (if you do so consciously).
Let's assume, for example, you're learning a language because you've relocated to a new country and your new daily habit is to learn ten new words a day (like I was). If you perform your habit, you reward yourself and you feel happy, but if you don't perform your habit, you don't reward yourself and you feel unhappy. Perhaps you didn't perform your habit because you procrastinated and decided to watch television, which in turn, reinforced you're unhappiness because you didn't perform your habit.
However, what if you put this daily habit 'on hold' because you had a mini-retirement in another country? This habit is not currently 'in demand' because you can't practice it as well, so what if you replaced it with another productive habit, like writing five hundred words a day for a book? (You can read more about what I call 'Productive Procrastination' here).
I believe, if a productive habit no longer serves you (especially if environment dependent), you should put in 'on hold' and replace it with another productive habit, indefinitely.
Habits are either conscious or unconscious and if they're conscious, they're a lot harder to condition until they become unconscious. However, I understand this takes time (how long is dependent on the habit).
The performance of a habit is based on a number of factors, but I've identified three I think are most important:
01. Its perceived difficulty.
02. An environment that's conducive to it's success.
03. Your motivation.
For example, reading an academic essay is 'easy' or 'hard' depending on your perception (and your own belief system) and reading on a noisy bus is a lot harder than in a library, but regardless, if you must do it, (that is, you have a high motivation) you will perform it.
The following are the fourteen daily habits I've experimented with developing over the past 1 year since I relocated to Stockholm, Sweden. Monday's blog post will unveil my new productivity tracker (which, incidentally, is my new thirty day challenge).
You can see I've omitted productivity as a daily habit because the below habits account FOR my productivity.
01. 7 - 9 hours of sleep (and preferably sleep before midnight).
02. Academia (read one academic essay).
03. Gratitude (practice gratitude by asking 'what am I grateful for today?').
04. Guitar (practice new songs that 'stretch' me).
05. Inbox zero (delete spam, categorise e-mails by subject and so on).
07. Meditation (three minutes).
08. Personal success journal (if applicable).
09. Poker (play one online game of micro-limit Texas hold 'em for profit).
10. Proactivity (record 'what did I do today to move me from where I am to where I want to be?').
11. Produce (write 500 words. This can be in a blog post, an e-mail, a journal entry. This is all collective).
12. Read (10% of a book a day).
13. Record new ideas ('Today I learnt . . . ' if applicable. This can be academic, personal or miscellaneous personal developments theories I can use for myself and private clients).
14. Update Goals (blog subscribers, books sales, business admin, personal finance).
The more I experiment with new habits (especially temporary ones like 7 - 9 hours of sleep and sleep before midnight) the more I want to condition them, permanently. The problem is, as you can see, there's a lot of habits to choose from and it's hard to develop fifteen with such consistency.
The other concern is some have no time constraint; a three minute meditation is no problem, but sometimes a five hundred word blog post will stump me for over an hour and encroach on my other habits.
Therefore, I've decided to choose the twelve that are most supportive of my current goals and track my consistency with them (more on that on Monday).
My advice is if you're currently experimenting with habits, focus on developing a maximum of three new conscious daily habits (preferably with a binary 'yes/no' outcome for their completion) and track your results for one month. The free app Lift is perfect for this (and for finding an accountability partner as well).
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The picture is of a plane-turned hotel at Arlanda Airport, Stockholm, Sweden.
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I'm about to board a flight to London until Monday to speak and coach with Marcus Oakey, have a nice weekend.