The Secret Skill of Productive People

We all yearn to be productive, or at least I do. I want to wake up early in the morning and start working on my tasks immediately and finish them. 18 months ago that was a dream until I listened to a short talk on the Internet by Anthony Robins on mimicking the habits of successful people. So I started reading and tried to see which of their habits I could apply.

Keyword: habit.

To change your life around, you need to develop new habits. Doing a single productive thing today, say waking up early, is not going to change your life if it’s not something you’re willing to do constantly.

How Do You Develop Habits?

You cannot remove old habits. You can only replace them. Say you like to sleep late. And you can’t wake up early. To wake up early, you will need to replace the habit of sleeping late with going to bed early.

21 days. Apparently that’s how long it takes for your brain to start doing this automatically. You will need to willfully force yourself to perform this new task for 21 days. Then your brain will automatically start to understand this routine and your subconscious mind will automatically take over this tasks. And waking up early now becomes a new habit.

You want your subconscious mind to take over the task. This is the key to productivity. This is the secret of successful people.

Your Actions

Your action for today is to list the habits that you would like to acquire. Sort them by priority. Beside each habit, write down why you want it. Studies have shown that you will only form new habits if there is a “pain” in not achieving what you desire. Write down this “pain”. Let this pain drive you.

For example, if losing weight is your pain, write down the things that you can’t do with your current weight. Also write down the consequences of having so much weight.

Make the process of moulding your new habit into a game. Push yourself to see how much weight you can lose within a week. On the contrary to what people say, and I agree with them that your weight fluctuates daily and also during different times in a day, weigh yourself daily at the same time, naked. Yes, naked.  Jot down your weight. You’re in for a big surprise when the week is over.

And spend the next 21 days working on this habit.

Dont screw up this process by working on multiple habits at a go. There are no short cuts in life. Put in the effort and Mother Nature will do her part. Pick up one habit and work on it. Remember, Rome was built in a day and neither will your productivity. Work on this slowly and surely, within a year, you’ll be amazed at how productive you would have become.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”
–Aristotle

The most famous book on habits was written by Dr. Stephen Covey many, many years ago. His book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, explains how to change habits by changing your perception of the things you don’t want to do. This is a book you can read in a day. It takes time to read and digest the ideas in this book. My copy of this book has a lot of notes written on the side, underlined passages and it really changed the way I perceived my behaviour and my spouses behaviour.

Another excellent and new book on the power of habits is The Power of Habits by Charles Duhigg, Pulitzer Prize–winning business reporter.

In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg, takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. He mixes facts and stories that take us from the boardrooms of Procter & Gamble to the sidelines of the NFL and to the front lines of the civil rights movement, Duhigg presents a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential. At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, being more productive, and achieving success is understanding how habits work. As Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.

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