The Power of Habits -What is a Habit?

Understanding how your brain uses habits can help you be more productive with your time. You can use conscious habit-setting to achieve all sorts of change, including becoming more tech-savy.

This month we are looking at Habits, as the last topic in our tech-free winter blog series.

Since we are focused in this blog series on what goes on in our heads, I will stick with the human side of habits. In the future I will revisit and post on how you can use this knowledge on habits to better use your technology in your workflows.

So what do we now know about Habits? Habits are like pre-programmed behaviours for the brain. Habits trigger an automatic behaviour without the brain having to do much thinking. Therefore they are efficient ways for the brain to get the body and mind through the day. About 40-60% of your waking day is made up of habitual behaviours. The way you make your coffee, the route you travel to work, the way you prepare for a task. By doing something the same way every time it makes it easy, and frees the brain up to do other things such as thinking about problems, being creative or learning new skills.

Some people don’t like the “constraint” of living by routines. However, scaffolding your day’s regular components via routines will actually free up your brain. This is what you need to do if you want to resource your brain to be a better problem solver, strategic thinker or learn new ways of working.

Of course some of the well known thinkers like Einstein had an alternative approach – they were infamously absent minded and couldn’t get the basics of life done for themselves. For most of us we don’t have a dedicated partner or employee who will keep daily life going for us, so we need to master our own routines to get the everyday tasks done.  And if you are a parent, you are also building fundamental life routines for others which can be very time consuming.  This is vitally important work, as it is what sets your child up for the future, but it is frustratingly repetitive.

So the key is to use your habits to manage your day to day tasks so you don’t have to expend much mental energy.

However, your routines can trap you and prevent you moving forward. And we will discuss that in this topic in a future post.

For more resources on Habits, see our Pinterest board. This contains images and infographics on the concept. Also see an old post of mine, from the beginning of the year, when I encouraged you to adopt habits not resolutions for the New Year.

Join us next week for the next post on Habits. To subscribe click here.

In the next posts we will look at:

  • The neuroscience of habits
  • How to eliminate bad habits
  • How to build new good habits

 

 

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