How To Replace Bad Habits With the Right Ones

Posted on /by Natalie Sisson/ in Time Management Tricks / 33 comments

It takes up to 3 weeks to form a habit and apparently just days to break it. Bummer huh.

I’m sure you’ve also heard the saying `If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got”.

I don’t think any words of advice could be more simple and to the point. Yet why do so many of us keep on doing in the hope that something will miraculously change for the better?

Because we’re stupid that’s why! Seriously. Were lazy too – forming a new habit takes effort and a good hard look at yourself.

Like what you’re really eating, how often you exercise and how many hours in a day you procrastinate.

So how do we go about changing and investing in changing our bad habits to become winning ones? I’m going to show you how by sharing my process below.

The Process To Replace Bad Habits With the Right Ones

The process is rather simple. Take your bad habit and flip it into a good one. Like the sound of that? Below I share my personal bad habits and the solution to them all. I’m fairly sure I’m not alone in these habits and that you will personally recognise some of them too.

Lack of Punctuality

I used to be consistently late by at least 5-10 minutes. I know the exact reason for this. I’d work right up until the minute I had to leave the cafe or place I was working from, to make my meeting, appointment or Skype appointment, and then underestimate the time it took to get there, and not always be prepared for it.

Habit to form: Be professional by arriving at least 10 minutes early to EVERY meeting and use that time to collect your thoughts, prepare how you want the meeting/ call to go and to feel relaxed and empowered.

Having your laptop on late at night

Possibly the worst habit I had. Since I love what I do I could easily do it 24/7. The problem is checking my email just before I go to bed, or answering a Twitter question is not conducive to clearing my mind for a great quality sleep.

Habit to form: Ensure you give myself at least 30 minutes of downtime before going to sleep – be it reading a great book, meditation or reflections on what went well today, who you helped or inspired and what you’re grateful for. That way you will feel calm and focused before going to sleep – oh some quality time with your partner is a no brainer….

Putting off the tough tasks for unnecessary ones

Actually I think this is one habit I’ve done a great job on changing. I disagree with those that think you should do the most unappealing work first thing in the morning. How is that a motivating factor to wake up to?? You should however tackle the most important, meaty task of the day first.

Habit to form: Have weekly and daily goals to meet to propel your business forward by focusing on the 20% that gets me 80% of your results. One of my most popular HighFlyer newsletter issues was talking about the 1 page Business Plan and creating your goals from this.

Making work fill the time alloted

I know I’m not on the only guilty of doing this. It’s also ridiculously easy to fix. Thinking that you have from 8am til 11am for example to work means you will purposefully go off track during your working day/ night because you THINK you have oodles of time.

Habit to form: Set short burst of time to complete your work in. Cut your day down to 6 hours and set a timer to do the Pomodoro Techique – 20 mins of intense work on one project, followed by a 1 minute break, and then repeat that 5-6 times before you have a proper break. The point here is you give yourself a time limit you will work harder towards achieving it. It’s quite astounding.

Watch my video on How to Increase Productivity in Your  Business From Anywhere.

Not taking a purposeful break during the work day

I know that if I do not take at least two decent breaks during the day I will work less effectively, be more lethargic, more drained, less focused and probably get fatter!

Habit to form: Schedule into your diary a regular 30-60 minute break to go to the park, on a walk, out in the fresh air, minus your phone so you can fully enjoy mother nature, no distractions. Even better is to do a workout first thing in the morning or mid afternoon when you start to get sluggish.

Getting sucked into the black hole of Social Media

You know how it works. You check your Twitter feed and before you know it have spent 1 hour opening links, reading blogs, sharing them, commenting and not done any of the 20% of important stuff!

Habit to form: If you take the procrastination method above you get 2 mins to check in on your fave site – literally dive in and out for a quick fix.  Otherwise I advise containing your updates to just 3 x per day for 20 minute intervals – time yourself. Schedule out tweets, updates to multiple accounts using Hootsuite or Seesmic. Same applies to email. Oh and never do this first thing in the morning – you have been warned.

If you want to take this a step further check out my free 10 Day Social Media Challenge which draws on themes, examples and insight from my bestselling book The Suitcase Entrepreneur to ensure by the end of 10 days, you create a complete strategic plan of attack for using social media.

Too many on location meetings with the wrong people

I’m happy to say this is one habit I kicked. Meetings in general can be a big waste of time, especially if you’re meeting with tirekickers or people who just feel it would be `so great to grab a coffee and chat’. Unless you have a structure to your meeting, a purpose and a time limit how will it be remotely useful?

Habit to form: Every time someone asks for a meeting – whether in person or on Skype ask them what the purpose is and to make a mini agenda. I find by doing this only the really committed serious people go that extra step.

I am happy to make time for them and the meetings always go well. The others who just wanted to meet for the sake of meeting rarely get back to me. Problem solved. I save hours!

Not accepting help from people where it’s genuinely offered

I sometimes think I’m too independent. It’s a free spirit suitcase entrepreneur thing I’m sure. I’m used to getting my own stuff done on my own. Sometimes this serves me well, other times in the past I deliberately disadvantaged myself by being stubbornly independent.

Habit to form: Accepting help in whatever form when offered is actually empowering and allows you to gain more freedom and independence. Taking that one step further, joint ventures and partnerships will actually allow you to succeed more than doing everything by yourself. Take one step at a time. Accept one offer at at time and see how you feel after it. Much better I’m sure.

I did this in a BIG way when I reached out for help from 120 influencers to be part of my $100 Change Program designed to get you to take action and make your dream idea, project or business a reality in 100 days or less.

Feeling like I’m not doing the best job I can all the time

Particularly useful habit to have I’ve realised. Having very high standards is great on one hand – it pushes you to deliver great quality and valuable work, products and services.

On the other hand it can be crippling. I always expect the best from myself and others. Since we’re all human and have limits, imagine how often I feel let down and disappointed?

Habit to form: Acknowledge your great work and achievements along the way and celebrate those milestones, goals achieved and to do list items ticked off. Also play to your strengths and focus on improving those, not your weaknesses.

I hope the above is useful. Want more strategic help, head here. I’d really like to hear from you which habit you think is holding you back, and has been for a long time and how you’re going to change that, starting today!

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