How do you become ultra-productive in both your working and personal life?

It’s not easy – let’s get that straight from the off. In fact, we’ve written countless blogs about productivity; it’s a topic that we can delve more deeply into than you might think possible and one we love to explore.

One of the key elements of a successful productive working style is finding habits worth practising. After all, the process of how to build a good habit is just as tricky as keeping it going once established.

How long does it take to build a habit?

That depends entirely on the habit in question and your desire to keep it a regular element of your working and home life. But the good news is once you’ve found it, built it and bought into it, that habit will pay you back in dividends.

Welcome to our how to find good habits guide – you’ll want to keep it close by at all times.

What works for others might not work for you

We’ve all been in the situation where friends or colleagues continually inform us about their brilliant habits.

They tell us that their life has been transformed by these ‘simple’ additions to their working days or methods by which the approach big, complex tasks. And, understandably, we get drawn in.

What if that same habit could work for us, too?

The fact remains that habits aren’t a one-size-fits all thing; they’re very specific to each person and what works for one might not work for another.

In fact, your mate’s best habit might be your own worst enemy if you try and shoehorn it into your own life.

When it comes to the question of how to build a good habit, you should always keep in mind that others’ habits won’t necessarily work for you.

Let’s consider a common example. Some people will swear blind that getting up at 5am has transformed their productivity. They get up, make a coffee, sit at their computer and become more creative and productive than they ever thought possible.

And they’re not lying – clearly this works for them. But what if you’re not an early riser? That’s just one example of a variable which will make this habit a no-go for you. If the idea of getting up before 8am fills you with dread and you know, having tried it before, that it simply leaves you feeling tired and unproductive all day, a 5am start isn’t going to work.

Trial other people’s ideas, by all means, but spend more time identify what works for you, based on your goals (we’ll get onto that later).

Remember, there’s no point starting a daily running habit if your end goal is to swim the channel.

Find your keystone habits

Keystone habits are activities or approaches to common tasks that should lead to general improvements overall in your productivity.

The good news is you can have lots of keystone habits because it’s the accumulative output that results in greater overall improvements.

Let’s consider some common keystone habits you could implement:

  • Regular exercise (a morning run each day, for instance)
  • Recording your calorie intake and exercise (there are plenty of apps out there to help you do this easily)
  • Eating at regular intervals (there’s a lot to be said for regular mealtimes where you sit down with loved ones)
  • Mindfulness (call it meditation, positive thinking – whatever you like; again, there are plenty of apps to help)
  • Daily planning (if you’re not using a to do list which is planned meticulously each day, you won’t be highly productive)
  • Bullet journaling (a timeless, analogue way of organising your life and managing your daily tasks)

However, one of the most important keystone habits is a solid morning and evening routine which results in better, consistent sleep. That means going to bed at a similar time each night and avoiding the snooze button the following morning at all costs.

The combination of good sleep and some of the keystone habits listed above (although, we’ve only scraped the surface) will put you in great stead for far more productive days. You’ll be happier, too!

Identify habits relevant to your long term goals

What do you want to achieve later in life or at the end of this current financial quarter?

goals pyramid

If you want to know how to find good habits, you need to think consistently about your long term goals. Habits that aren’t aligned to these more lofty goals don’t really have a place in your life – they’ll do nothing more than eat up your time.

Long term goals can be specific achievements, too. For instance, you might want to top the sales roster chart in your region two months in a row, or finally get a blog post published on a leading news site. Whatever those long term goals are, work backwards from there to find habits that can support them.

Good habits will always help you reach your long term goals and, usually, do so in half the time you’d expect.

Take authors, for instance. If they want to write the best possible books, habits such as bullet journaling and diary writing will be helpful in enabling them to achieve that long term goal.

Don’t ignore circumstantial or temporary habits

Not all habits need to stick with you for the rest of your life. In fact, it’s highly sensible to occasionally build circumstantial or temporary habits into your working days.

For instance, if you have a conference on the calendar which demands a new sales approach you’re unfamiliar with, building habits around that approach on the lead up to the event is a solid idea. If you’re unlikely to need them for another year or so after that, you can always disband them afterwards.

Short term goals will help you identify the circumstantial habits you need to create. It could be something as simple as finishing tomorrow’s board report or proofreading your colleague’s blog finally, but whatever it is, think about the habits you’ll need to build into your working day in order to meet those short term goals.

Wrapping up

Are you ready to find habits worth practising?

The secret to this is to find habits that you enjoy working on and which come naturally, quickly. If a habit feels wrong, out of place or unlikely to help you reach any kind of goal, drop it and find something that does.