Are you looking to be a better, more successful human? Or even just be a little happier and more effective through out the day? Start with your dirty bad habits!
I recently read the book Atomic Habits by James Clear and it’s one of my favorite books to date. The book contains actionable advice and it’s laid out so easily for the reader that anyone can get through the book in a day. I’ve decided to write a short series on my main takeaways to better understand the habits myself. If you have any desire to set better habits, and just become a better, more effective human overall then check this book out. If you can’t read or you’re too lazy to grab a copy, I’ve laid out my biggest takeaways in this series of posts. Read on!
For this series, I’m going to define two terms:
- Effective: Accomplishing important goals or tasks in a timely manner and avoiding or delegating tasks that keep you in motion or “busy”.
- Success: Ending each day satisfied with the work you’ve put in by being more effective than the day prior. This compounds in every aspect of your life to create financial, familial, health-related, and professional success.
To become a more effective and successful person you have to be able to optimize your good habits and minimize your bad habits. Today is about step 1 in that process: Tracking your habits to decide which habits are bad, and which habits are good.
Tracking habits is incredibly effective also allows us to see where we might be wasting time or where we can improve. Note that today we’re only tracking the habits we have, not the habits we want.
The biggest reason to track these habits is to define habits we didn’t even know we had, many of them negative habits. We’ll start by writing out the habits we’ve performed over the past hour, each hour, for one day. Next to each habit we add a +, -, or = sign to the habit for positive, negative, and neutral habits, respectively. Later, we’ll work on tracking the habits we want along with the habits we currently have.
Here’s an example of my typical morning and what habits are +, -, or =:
- Turn off alarm : =
- Walk around aimlessly for 5 minutes trying not to lay back down and fall asleep : -
- Brush teeth : +
- Chug water : +
- Say good morning to German Shepherd, Minnie Mouse : + 😊
- Put on warm sweats : =
- Make/ prepare coffee : =
- Check phone and waste 5 minutes : -
- Chug amazing NVR REST coffee : + (duh)
- Sit at desk and review morning tasks : +
- Turn on laptop and open browser : =
- Waste 15 minutes farting around on laptop : -
- Start first task (typically writing) : +
- See time and panic : =
- Rush out door to go do morning workout : +
Clearly, there are a few negative habits I could remove and a few neutral habits that I could optimize to get my morning started faster or more effectively. The positive habits will stay and soon be done more effectively too.
Today your task today is to track as many habits as you can and rank them positive, negative, or neutral. No habit is too small for so capture everything. We’ll work on defining the habits we want and the habits we can optimize or remove in the next post. If you don’t have a way to track these habits, set an alarm for every hour and quickly jot down the habits from the previous hour in your phone’s notes app. Here’s an awesome little pocket journal you can pick up too that may help!