This last part is all about building routines and saving precious willpower. It’s shorter because there’s little I can say on the matter as it’s really about trying out BJ’s method below (which I highly recommend). It will give you a practical understanding of how habits work, and by extension, how you work.
Part 7: How can you effectively take action, every day?
Don’t rely on willpower. You only get so much of it in a day. Instead, build tiny habits that can turn into routines, and structure your days around when you are at your best and worst. It’ll just take a few weeks and some planning. Let me explain how:
During the First Week:
Think back to your goals, buckets, projects and actions. On those actions that need to become a new habit, go micro: break them down into the tiniest steps you can imagine.
Try BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habits process for one week (I’ve done this free program many, many times. It’s awesome).
The new habit or routine is less important than the cue and the reward. Build every tiny habit, and bigger routine around:
- A cue: this is the trigger for the behaviour to start (like walking in your front door, or your alarm clock goes off, or…)
- A routine: this is the behaviour itself (like sitting down to review your game plan for the day, or…)
- A reward: this is the benefit you get for doing the behaviour (like having some chocolate, or taking a sip of your fresh cup of coffee.
If you are trying to change a bad habit, remember the golden rule of habit change: “you can’t extinguish a bad habit, you can only change it… Use the same cue. Provide the same reward. Change the routine.” (Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit, pp. 62-63)
During the Second Week:
For new habits, routines and actions that need to happen, pull out your calendar and draft up a plan for the next 2 weeks ahead:
- What time of day are you at your best for doing the deep, important work that pushes the envelope on your work? Block this time out on your calendar–this is your most important time of every day, let nothing else in! Because the answer to the question “How am I supposed to execute all this… especially when I am at my worst?” is NEVER. When you are at your worst is when you need to be relaxing, playing and simply being together with friends and family. You want to be executing when you are at your absolute best.
- Schedule in where you’ve cued up your tiny habits, new routines, and core actions for the projects you are working on.
- Schedule in a chunk of time every week to review and reflect on your efforts (this is hard but so important!).
Because we have limited willpower in a day, it’s better to automize decisions around starting a new routine. This will save your willpower up for the creative problem solving that you want to apply to your purposeful work.