A couple of years ago I found an interesting methodology of managing productivity called "Zen to Done" by Leo Babauta. The core of that methodology is based on habits. The author describes ten of them and claims that by implementing any of these habits productivity can be increased. I managed to implement a few of those habits which helped me to complete my tasks. Unfortunately I didn't manage to implement all the habits I wanted, even when I tried really hard. I was wondering why I could implement some and I was not able to do the same with others. Recently I read a book called "Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg and I found a few possible answers to my question.
Duhigg describes how the habits of individuals, companies, and societies work. He introduces us to the neurological basis of how habits are formed and how we can use that knowledge to consciously work on our own habits. It is very easy to follow what he is trying to explain. He includes many examples, maybe even too many.... On the other hand, thanks to this it is impossible to forget them :)
The one thing from the book I remember the most is a description about what a habit consists of. He lists three components of a habit:
- Cue: something that starts an action we call a habit. It can be the sound of an alarm clock, the smell of your favorite cookie, etc.
- Action: the habit itself. For example, getting up at 3PM everyday and going to the canteen to have a cookie.
- Reward: the feeling we have after an action (joy, happiness, etc).
Some intriguing advice that I found is that the easiest way to change a habit is to reuse the cue and reward of the existing one. The only thing you have to do is change the "action" part. That way we have a bigger chance to change the "bad" habit.
I am going to use this thinking on habits that I failed to change in the past. Maybe if I find a real cue and a reward for those habits I will be able to change my behaviors.
I listened to the audio version of the book. At times I felt it was too long, but overall it was very nice and informative. I encourage you to read it yourself.
Good luck in fighting with your habits!