Earlier in the year, I listened to James Clear’s Atomic Habits (and subsequently purchased the hardcopy book). If you haven’t read it, I suggest you get yourself a copy, stat! In particular, he describes how a common trait of high performers is that they track their habits. Part of their success comes from the fact they are able to continuously refine their processes towards achieving results because they have a continuous loop of feedback showing them trends, successes and failures.
I decided to put this to the test and see what I could do. In particular, I wanted to create some new habits that I felt were missing from my daily routines and help reduce (and eliminate) some less helpful ones. I implemented a tracking system (a.k.a. a spreadsheet), listed the habits I wanted to build on and started marking them off on a daily basis. So far, I’ve been doing this for the past three months. I’ve set myself a goal to do it for every month this year and start building some data around it (all of which I’ll share with you once I have it). I’ve found this to be a really powerful tool, not just in satisfying my need to feel like I’m progressing, but in also highlighting a number of key learnings.
What did I learn?
- I like crossing things off. I’ve always been a list girl, but this took it to the next level. Each month I allocate a different pen colour (to satisfy my creative side) and will admit I get excited to look at my list at the end of the day and see what I could mark off. I even go as far as challenging myself to go one better each day on how many things I can cross off.
- I like the feeling of achievement. Again, at the end of the day I love the feeling of what I have been able to achieve. Looking back at all the things I was able to do encourages me to want to do it again the next day.
- I gravitate to the things I enjoy most. It has really highlighted the things I don’t want to do, or don’t naturally do well. And this is the whole point. I wanted to create new habits for some of the things I wasn’t doing so well, or at all for that matter. This is allowing me to see where my gaps were and to strategise as to how I could do them better.
- The blank spaces annoy me. Not being able to mark something off really gets to me. I’ve started to reflect more on why I wasn’t doing these things and what I could be doing better to help set myself up for success, which is in turn helping to create better habits.
- Once I wrote it down, I became more accountable. Once the words hit the paper, it is real. It isn’t just me saying “I’ll do that” anymore. If it gets added to the list, I am accountable to make it happen.
- I’ve become more specific with my habits and goals. This is a really good summary of all of the above points. As the weeks and months tick by, I’m realising where I need to be more specific and support myself to achieve what I’d set out to do. The blank spaces help to show I need to focus a little more on breaking things down to make them easier, remove the challenges and create the opportunities.
Adding something else to the list…!
I can hear all the pessimists out there thinking, “but isn’t this just adding something else to the long list of things we need to do each day?” Yep, maybe. Depends how to look at it really. My focus was on creating better habits to help propel me forward towards my goals. This simple tool helps me to be accountable, focus and track my progress. Once I’ve set my habits for the month, it takes me a maximum of 2 mins a day to complete but saves me loads of energy credits when allocating them to the tasks I need to complete. A pretty good investment/return trade-off if you ask me.
I would love to know what you do to create and maintain good, better and best habits. Drop me a line and let me know some of your tools and ideas. If you would like to know more about how you could implement better habits in your daily routine, please do get in contact.