James Lieu
James Lieu

James Lieu

How to Build Good Habits

Improve your productivity by building good habits

James Lieu's photo
James Lieu
·Dec 11, 2021·

5 min read

How to Build Good Habits

Photo by Avel Chuklanov on Unsplash

To increase the success rate of achieving your goals, whether it's learning to code, learning to play the guitar, or getting good at chess, consistency is key. The problem for most people is that being consistent is very difficult to do especially if you don't have a plan or routine in place.

We're always creating habits 🤷‍♂️

It's inevitable that we're all going to experience "good days" and "bad days".

On "good days" you're energized, motivated and can be very productive which brings you closer to your goals - it makes you happy and proud with what you achieved that day.

The problems are the "bad days" where you're not motivated or have low energy. Those days can negatively steer you away from your goals or even cause you to drop them completely.

During those "bad days", where motivation and energy is down, its easier to watch TV, or browse social media instead of building that side project or opening that book to study.

What you may not realise is that you're still creating a habit, just not ones that will bring you closer to your goals.

Why we create bad habits 🤔

Its important to understand and acknowledge why and how this is happening.

I can't speak for other people, but for me personally, I've built those bad habits because they were easy to do.

  • Its very easy to open your social media app and start browsing.
  • Its very easy to turn on Netflix and watch a series or movie.
  • Its very easy to turn on your game console and play video games.

NOTE: Good or bad habits are subjective, its ok to disagree with me what is considered a good or bad habit.

Do it consistently enough times, you'll create a habit out of them. I'm not saying these hobbies are "bad". It simply isn't the habit we want to have in place of the ones we need to achieve our goals.

Once those "bad habits" are in place, the challenge then becomes needing to break out of those habits in order to aim towards your goals again (once you have a "good day"). And so the cycle continues.

And its also worth acknowledging that the reason you don't have certain "good habits" is because they're difficult.

  • Its easier to open your social media app instead of opening your IDE or text editor to build your side project.
  • Its easier to turn on the TV instead of going to the gym.
  • Its easier to play video games instead of studying

More often than not, the bad habits are easier to achieve than the good ones. Also, your goals are usually a lot larger in scope than completing that Netflix series for example.

The Solution 💡

The solution is actually quite obvious once you've identified why you have those habits:

Make it easier to build good habits and make it difficult to build bad ones!

Removing all of the conveniences of those bad habits is the best way to break out of them. By making your bad habits difficult to do, you're less likely to make the effort, especially if it's inconvenient!

For example, you have a bad habit of using the snooze button on your alarm and want to rid yourself from it, make it difficult to do so by having the phone far away from your bed so you hear the alarm but can't easily snooze your alarm.

What about social media? If you feel that you spend too much unproductive time on Instagram, then what about uninstalling the app from your phone or logging out each time you're done, this will mean you have to reinstall or enter your email/password each time you open it, this could be cumbersome enough to put you off logging in. Also remove any bookmarks/favourites from your browser, make it inconvenient!

Eating too many snacks at your desk? Make sure those snacks aren't easily accessible, keep snacks far from your desk or even not have any in your home. You'd have to go out to the store to pick some up. That again, can make it too inconvenient to be "worth" the effort.

Too much TV or video games? Unplug it each time you're done or put the remote in another room or the drawer in the kitchen.

Whatever the bad habit is, make it inconvenient!

What about building good habits?

The advice here is to reduce the friction of starting the habit as much as possible

If you want to read more, have your book somewhere obvious and convenient like at the front of your desk (or your bedside table if you read in bed). I'd even go as far to have the book propped opened to the page I was last on. This not only reminds you of the habit, but is very convenient to pick up and begin reading.

What about learning to code? Have everything you need very accessible, pens, books, notepads literally at your front desk. As soon as you turn on your computer, have only your code editor as a shortcut on your desktop and open it as soon as you see it.

Writing an online blog? Bookmark it or even have the page load as soon as you open your browser i.e. hashnode.com

Summary 📝

There are many methods of building new habits i.e. using a habit tracker, alarm/calendar reminder. However, irrespective of what tool or resource we use, we need consistency and routine. But it's almost inevitable that we'll have days where motivation and energy is down on any particular day which is often out of our control.

So to proactively deal with this, you'll want to make the desired habit as easy and frictionless as possible and the undesired habit as difficult and inconvenient as possible.

A lot of these ideas and inspiration came from a book I read: Atomic Habits. I highly recommend this book if you're interested in improving your productivity. Its easy to pick up and can be a life changing read.

Thank you for reading and warm regards.

 
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