I am constantly trying to find ways to become more productive, finish my projects faster, and waste less time on things that are not important. I’m an entrepreneur, and effective time management and consciousness can really make a difference in my line of work. But it has positive effects outside of work, too.
One of the best ways we can improve ourselves is to form smart habits. I’ve read several books on this topic, and they helped me to change my attitude, worrying less about events that can hold me back, and focusing more on the ones that are important. In this post, I’d like to write about two of them, and provide a few tips on forming habits.
Smart habits of highly effective people
Stephen Richards Covey was an American author, educator, and businessman. His first book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is one of the most influential works written about habits. It has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide, and Bill Clinton tried to integrate some of its ideas into his presidency.
Covey believes we should take responsibility for our lives, and never blame circumstances or other outside factors for our failures. He advises focusing our time and energy on the things we can control, and worrying less about the rest, because this allows us to be more proactive.
He thinks we should find out what our priorities are, and create a plan for success that shows us what we’d like to achieve in the long term. In other words, we should begin with the end in mind, and work toward our goals systematically. He believes battling against others is counterproductive and that we should work together instead, and even learn to celebrate the success of others, too.
While the works of Covey can help you change your attitude and become a more proactive person, Simple Rules: How to Thrive in a Complex World, a book written by Donald Sull and Kathleen M. Eisenhardt, demonstrates a more practical approach toward forming smart habits.
The authors believe that creating simple rules can provide a powerful weapon against the complexity that threatens to overwhelm us, as they can save time and effort by simplifying the way we process information.
They advise us to create a set of rules that we can apply in situations we regularly have to face, similar to the way a financial institution deals with a crisis. Although most people use rules like this without knowing about them, by setting them up consciously we can simplify our life in many areas.
How to create smart habits
I wrote a post a few weeks ago about the smart habits of work and study, and I’m sure you can find several other articles online with tips that can help you become more productive. Not every one of those tips is going to be useful, though.
You have to create habits that are suited to your personality and can really move you forward in areas which are important for you. A good way to start is to use your existing routines and build new habits around them. For example, if you’d like to lose weight, first you can try to skip the dessert after lunch, and once you’ve gotten used to this, look for the next step which can take you closer to your goal.
I’ve worked a lot on developing smart habits, and I’m going to share a few of them with you. Some are more general, while others are simple and actionable. Not every one of them will be appropriate for you, but a few might help.
A lack of sleep can decrease your productivity dramatically. By following these simple rules, you can avoid it in most cases, and maybe win a little extra time, too:
- Don’t go to bed until you feel sleepy!
- Wake up at the same time every day!
- Only stay in bed if you’re sleeping. Really, get out!
- Challenge yourself to reduce time spent in bed.
A practice that can help you stay focused:
- Organize your thoughts! Don’t hold on to your ideas for a long time! To prevent your brain from losing faith in your collection buckets, make a habit of completely emptying all of them once a week. (You can read more about this at getthingthingsdone.com)
Habits that can make you more proactive:
- Always take the initiative to do what you want.
- React and respond to events that happen, and be responsible! Between what happens to us and how we react, there is a space. And in that space lies the freedom to decide how to feel, which can define our happiness.
- Make others look good! Wherever you go, and whatever relationship you build -doesn’t matter if it is a networking or a long-term partner- be in the moment and constantly look for ways you can help.
- Don’t be afraid to apologize! We continuously make mistakes and we should apologize for each of them. It’s not worth it to hold a grudge against people. You have to learn to forgive the ones who don’t apologize. Don’t let them hold you back!
So, these are some of the rules I try to live my life by. Most of the time they help me, but of course, sometimes I fail to act as I intended to.
Do you also have smart habits, or are trying to create some? Let me know!
I’m interested in your thoughts about my tips too. Do you find them helpful? Or would you rather do things in a different way? According to this infographic created by OPEN Forum, some of the most successful leaders had very unconventional habits…