Good Habits, Bad Habits

Do you have any habits? Let me help you with the answer to that question. Yes, you do have habits. If you’re a normal person you have both good habits and bad habits. 

It has been said that people create their own futures. That is not exactly accurate. What people create are habits and those habits create their futures. 

Just so we’re all on the same page a habit is a routine behavior that is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously. The American Journal of Psychology defined a “habit, from the standpoint of psychology, as more or less a fixed way of thinking, willing, or feeling acquired through previous repetition of a mental experience.”

So basically a habit is stuff we do repeatedly, most often without even thinking about it. 

But I’m going to ask you to stop doing anything without thinking about it for a week. Think about EVERYTHING you do. Take note of everything you do during each day of the week and track it on paper or in your phone. At the end of each day honestly look at everything you did that day and ask yourself six questions. Why did you do it? Did it need to be done? Was a productive? Did it add value to my life? Add value to the lives of the people around me? Did it benefit my employer in any way?

Be honest with your answers or don’t bother doing this exercise. 

How many of the things you do each day do you do without even thinking? How many do you do simply because you’ve “always done them?” How many of them are you struggling to assign any value or benefit to? 

How many of them would you define as good habits vs bad habits? Remember the honest part. 

Now, which of the bad habits are you willing to part with? I’ve been told that cracking open a Diet Coke at 4:30AM is a bad habit. Mind you, this is being told to me by people drinking their 4th cup of coffee which they apparently consider to be a health drink. It doesn’t matter to me whether it’s a bad habit or not, the Diet Coke ain’t going anywhere. 

If you choose to hang onto a bad habit that’s fine, but you need to be aware that you’re doing it. You also need to be aware that the more bad habits you hang onto the less room you have in your life for good habits. 

The bottom line here is this…think about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. That’s hard to do all the time but very successful people make a point to do it at least now and then. I’m willing to bet it’s entirely possible you’ve haven’t done it in a long long time.

So do it now!

Last Second Sam

There are people who claim to believe that procrastination helps them be more successful. To them I would say that once you become comfortable misleading yourself you can, and most likely will, mislead anyone. 


Procrastination will kill your opportunity for success. Maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow but eventually it most definitely will. That much is certain!


People who believe procrastination helps them because they think better under pressure are not being honest with themselves. People who believe they are more productive when working under stress are fooling themselves. 


Approaching deadlines do not make people smarter, calmer, more productive or more logical. They make everything more challenging.


The real reason many people procrastinate is that they see low value in the task. It’s either not fun enough or they see no reward for doing it. Some people procrastinate because they do not have confidence in their ability to complete the task. Fear of failure is a driving force behind many a procrastinator’s behavior. 


For some people procrastination is part of their personality. They are just more impulsive than other people. These are the people I call last second Sam or last second Sally depending on…well you know what it depends on.


One of the most effective tools for overcoming the tendency to procrastinate is a Prioritized Daily Task List. A prioritized task list is a to-do list on steroids. You list all the things you need to accomplish on a given day but you list them in order of importance. You DO NOT do the second most important thing until the most important thing is accomplished. 


Don’t worry about working on one thing all day if it’s truly the most important or most productive thing you could do that day. You’ll still be better offer than if you spent the day doing a bunch of unimportant or unproductive things. 


Many procrastinators put off doing things that are quick and easy to do. They don’t see a lot of fun or reward in doing them so they just put it off. Answering an email is a good example. A quick answer might take only a minute but they still open and read the email several times before answering it. 


So here’s a good rule of thumb to help stop at least some procrastinating. If a task takes a minute or less to do then do it immediately. No delay, no hesitation, and NO PROCRASTINATING! You will be amazed at how many things you do in a day can be completed in under a minute. 


Don’t kid yourself into thinking being a last second Sam or Sally has one ounce of benefit. You will not find even one very successful person who will tell you their success is due to putting off until tomorrow what should have been done today. 

And you’re highly unlikely to be the first.