Setting and Breaking Habits to Find More Time

Setting and Breaking Habits to Find More Time


I remember reflecting with one of my new friends, Lin, on the determination we have when we leave Gwynganna to continue with our newfound healthy lifestyle and habits only to fizzle out two to three months into our normal lives.

It takes us 21-28 days to form a new habit but clearly a lot longer to break old ones. It is worth having a close look at the old habits that are likely to undermine the new ones and put in place strategies to break these.

For example, I know that wanting a half-hour extra sleep some days will stop the habit of getting up early and doing exercise. But why do I crave extra sleep when I should be jumping out of bed full of energy. You need to do the ‘5 Whys’ to really get to the root cause and fix that.

Why don’t I bounce out of bed?

Because I’m tired still.

Why am I tired still?

Because I go to bed late. Why? Because work is pushing into evening.

So, the real problems start the night and day before and are also linked to the stuff you consume. Putting boundaries around your work – finishing it at a reasonable time of day and not working into the night will allow you to wake up fresh, to pick up where you left off with a clearer head.

So I committed to holding the habit of early nights for at least January. It’s early February and looking back on the last few weeks I am reminded that it is not nearly as easy as it sounds to break the habit of going to bed early and turning off even earlier. I thought giving up drinking for the year might be a little challenging but turning off after 5pm or over the weekend is harder! Nevertheless, I am convinced that it is worth not allowing this to become a habit again because in a short time, the late nights will start eating into my early mornings, my energy and my effectiveness. So in order to keep practicing the discipline of early evenings I will practice the art of ‘getting things done’ in less time, focusing on ‘projects that matter’ (a neat combination of Dave Allen, Tim Ferris and Peter Cook – check these productivity gurus out). More on that another time.