June 3, 2009

Take Time To Reflect On Your Habits

Seems to me that most of what I did today is pretty much the same as yesterday. Which would me that what I do tomorrow will be the same as today, and so on and so forth. I think that's because most of what we do is the result of habits we have formed. Don't you have the same routine every morning? Do you brush your teeth at the same time, eat the same breakfast, read the morning paper? All this is because, like me, you've formed habits.

Its a little scary to think that your future is going to be determined by what it is that you do today. For example, your habit or lack of habit to save money today will effect your retirement. The problem is that we don't usually set out to form these habits, they develop when we are young, or we pick them up from our friends, family, classmates, etc.

If you are trying to take control of your day and manage your time better, chances are you will fail unless you take a close look at your habits and determine whether they are good habits or bad ones. Get rid of your unproductive habits and focus on your productive ones. Develop new habits to get organized and you'll find your day runs more smoothly and you, all of the sudden, feel like you have more time to do the things you really enjoy.

Last year, I decided it was time to lose some weight. I've written about this before so I won't spend time re-hashing the details. In any event, I did manage to lose some weight and, so far, with daily thought, I've managed to keep that weight off. Much of the reason for my success was that I changed my habits. Years and years went into forming those habits, and it wasn't easy to change them, but I did. And today I am much happier.

The same goes for the "Time Management" habits you have spent years forming. To take control of your day let me suggest that you first need to take a close look at what it actually is that you do during any given day. I've created a form I call "Work On What Counts." You can do the same with any spreadsheet program you use, like Microsoft Excel for example. My form has a column for the time, and a column for a description, and a column for how long. Once or twice a year I fill out the form from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to sleep. I do this for a full week and then analyze it.

If you are meticulous and include absolutely everything you will really be able to see how you spend your time. You will see the time you waste chatting with colleagues. You will see the time you waste interrupting your work on a project to reply to an e-mail or answer the phone. You will see that a two hour lunch is detrimental to you getting home to be with your family for dinner. You will see when you are most productive, when you are hungry, when you go to the bathroom, when you sleep, and when you are unproductive. You will see what habits you have formed and what habits are causing you to waste time during your day. From there, all you need to do is decide to change the habits that are inhibiting your success and form new habits that will make you more productive, happy, healthy, or whatever you need to do to accomplish a particular goal.

It won't be easy to change those habits, but knowing that you have them in the first place is a great first step. From there, resolve to change those habits. Focus on them for a month and I guarantee you'll see progress. Before you know it you'll have developed new habits and you will be on your way to accomplishing the goals you have set for yourself.

Try this for one week and then let me know what you learned about yourself. You won't regret it!
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TheBAFSignal by Bradley A. Friedman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at www.bafman.com.