Good habits are all about routine, and with so much of our lives up in the air right now, it's easy for those habits to go out the window. Maybe you're sleeping in, slacking on deadlines, or spending too much time scrolling Twitter. Now's the time to stop and take stock before those new behaviors become your new habits.
Here's how to get back on track, and maybe develop some brand-new good work habits as well.
Figure Out What Matters to You
Eventually, life will return to normal, and with that comes an opportunity for a fresh start. Having some distance from your day-to-day routine and responsibilities has probably given you insight into what really matters to you. If you're still a little fuzzy on the details, try this exercise:
- List out your goals and dreams.
- Narrow down your list to the three things you'd most regret not doing.
- Prioritize them.
- Ask what those priorities say about you and your core values.
Now that you know what you value most, you can start thinking about how to incorporate it into your post-lockdown life.
Try These Habits on for Size
While turning yourself into an early bird won't directly win you that big account or help make those connections, it's the kind of habit that makes doing so that much easier. It's also an easy habit to get into. That's because good habits aren't innately hard. They're mostly just about prioritization and repetition.
Here are a few small habits that can help you meet your goals.
- Skip the snooze. Try waking up just 15 minutes early - then half an hour, and so on. Use that extra time to work on your priorities. Work on your book. Follow up on your leads. Go for a run. Practice your Spanish. 15 minutes a day works out to 91 hours a year, which is plenty of time to get something done.
- Get organized. Invest in a planner, a calendar app, a filing system, and some colored markers. Spend some time each morning planning out your day, week, and month, and set aside a few minutes for filing and archiving. Track your productivity. Take notes. Use to-do lists. Not all of these things will work for you, but the ones that do will make it that much easier to hit your targets.
- Cut the distractions. Email alerts, social media pings, and Slack notifications pull us away from what we're doing. Turn off your alerts, put your phone in a drawer, and aim to answer emails just a few times a day. You can also try the Pomodoro method or productivity sprints to keep yourself on track.
- Stretch it out. Moving about is good for blood flow - which is good for cognitive performance, together with overall wellbeing. Plus, there's no better way to clear the mind. Aim to incorporate some simple movement into your day, whether it's stretching, a bodyweight workout, or the recommended 10000 steps a day.
Sticking With a Good Thing
The hardest thing about starting a new habit is starting. The next hardest is keeping it up. Here's how to get those habits established:
- One thing at a time. Attempting to change everything in your life is only setting yourself up for failure. Why is that? Because to do that thing you need to make room for it, which means not doing something else. When you try to add a dozen things, you're also subtracting a dozen things, which is way too much to deal with. Build one habit at a time.
- Ramp up slowly. If you've never tried jogging before, try a Couch-5k instead of training for a marathon. Whatever your habit is, start small, then slowly build up to bigger and better goals. This is more sustainable and will prevent you from hitting a wall.
- Be accountable. Accountability can help keep you on track. Track your results, text a friend, post on social, or keep a journal. Any of these things can be great for keeping you accountable to your goals.
- Give it 90 days. It takes a while for a habit to truly stick. Pledge to commit to your new habit for at least 90 days, and you'll find that it becomes a normal part of your daily routine.
If your good habits need some nurturing, now's the time to make it happen. The seeds you plant today will be blooming by the time we get back to work - so commit to getting started.