Adding healthy habits to your daily routine can transform your life but removing unhealthy habits that aren’t serving you can really give you the boost you need to get started on your self-development journey in 2020.
Conventional wisdom would have you believe that removing something has got to be easier than adding something new. Here’s the catch, not by a long shot. Because some of the habits that we have been repeating for years, day after day, can almost become part of our identity. Instead of looking at some of these patterns as patterns, we start associating our sense of self with these habits and they really end up hurting our growth as a result.
A little quote that might encourage you to embark on this quest right away says this —
What we do now echoes in eternity.
— Marcus Aurelius
So here are some of the habits you might want to bid farewell in 2020 no matter how much they “feel like you”.
1. The “I don’t feel like it” excuse
Yep, let’s face it. We’re all guilty of this one and it is what it is, an excuse to indulge in behaviors that we know end up hurting us rather than helping us. Now it’s up to behavioral psychologists to understand why we, being the rational creatures that we are, would ever fall for an excuse like this but a friend of mine put it very poetically —
Why do I beat myself with a hammer? Because it feels so good when I stop.
Yikes, indeed and yet we carry on with our self-destructive habits like it’s no big deal. Now here’s the bad news. According to Mel Robbins, the best-selling author of the book The 5 Seconds Rule, it’s a fool's errand to wait around for the time when you’ll feel like it. Because the bottom line is she says —
You’re never gonna feel like it.
And if you’re never going to feel like it, you’re never going to get it done. It’s just a simple trick that our mind plays on us, such a lousy one at that. I highly encourage anyone who struggles with this to go and check out Mel Robbin’s book where she lays out eloquently on how to tackle this pattern. It’s backed by science as she proclaims and personally, it has worked wonders for me.
Call a spade a spade and let go of the habit of saying “I don’t feel like it”, it’s simply an excuse to not do the work that is necessary for you to move towards your goals for 2020.
2. Leaving tiny decisions on tomorrow
We all know how it turns out in the morning when the alarm goes off and we hit the snooze button 17 times before actually getting out of bed. “Do I wash my hair today?”, “Do I go for that workout?”, “I’m running late so I’ll just skip breakfast”. When you leave all these tiny decisions pending until tomorrow, here are the two things that are definitely going to happen.
- You’re not going to wash your hair until the weekend and,
- You’re not getting anything productive done in your day.
Not having a routine or never sticking to routines have major downsides. Your entire day goes by entangled in all these tiny little details that don’t move you an inch closer to where you want to be in life. If you form a daily routine and diligently follow it, you will no longer chip away at your motivation in deciding whether or not you want to hit the gym today. You simply check off the everyday habits off your list as planned and then you can finally sit down to find that extra hour to start that blog or look for a better job or apply for that Ph.D.
Just remember this —
It’s not you, it’s your habits.
And habits can be changed. So fix yourself that morning routine and watch it work like a charm for your overall productivity in 2020.
3. Leaving the most important task for last
I’ll admit it, I have no idea why we do this. We keep pushing the task we need to get done ASAP until the last possible minute and if you’re anything like me, you also hate yourself a little bit afterward because you didn’t get the work done according to your quality standards.
This is much more than just simple procrastination because somehow the importance of a task turns it into this cursed ritual that my mind doesn’t want anything to do with. So I avoid it like the plague. Peculiar, huh.
Why do it now when you can do it later?
That is not an attitude that gets anything done which is why it’s so important to break the pattern. If you form a ritual of getting the most important task of your day done the first thing in the morning or whatever time you start your workday, you will never run into the problem of leaving important work until its latest possible deadline.
Suddenly, you can be on top of your taxes, on top of that project report, or that application you needed to get done like yesterday. Letting go of the habit of postponing work makes your life fall into place like magic. You actually feel a lot better about yourself, too. This habit gets rid of that feeling you get that says you’re slacking off. Win-Win.
4. Giving in to impulsive desires
If there’s one thing that massively throws you off your game, it’s this habit. You can be on your way to finally getting that diet in order and suddenly one evening on a whim you decide to have a cheese-burger for dinner. And while that cheese-burger isn’t the problem in and of itself, it’s giving into that desire knowing full well that it’s taking you away from your goals.
See, giving into impulsive desires is a habit, one that you’re going to want to shake because it tends to have this cascading effect where one thing leads to another and before you know it, you’re back to square one on your well-laid plans. Whenever one of these pop up during your day, it’s good to ask yourself —
Is this taking me closer to or away from my goals?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you to never have that cheese-burger. By all means, knock yourself out if that’s something you really want. But if you’re trying to achieve a goal, you better be prepared for these impulsive desires to sweep in like tidal waves and keel you over. And you better have some measures lined up if you have any hopes of staying on track with your plans for 2020.
5. Untracked social media usage
While this applies to untracked time in general, social media is a notoriously bad time sink that might be chipping away at precious hours out of your week that you could otherwise be using productively.
Again, the key is to know the balance. If scrolling Instagram is something you really enjoy, go ahead and scroll all you want but we all know the feeling where we hop onto the social media wagon and three hours later you’re still watching cat videos. I really love cat videos but not enough to spend three hours on a Tuesday bingeing them as if my life depends on it. The only point of this hyperbole is that you’ve got to take back control over the time you give to social media and a good place to start is to track it first.
With social media, as long as you’re not falling into that warmhole that magically makes your time disappear, you’re good.
Monitor your usage for a while, preferably without judgment and without any guilt because neither of those is going to help you, then figure out some ways you could cut back on that time.
Cutting down on social media usage can make all of us a little more productive in 2020.
6. Making open-ended plans
“Maybe I’ll go watch that play over the weekend”.
No, you won’t. Not with that level of commitment. Nothing wrong with having a flexible schedule but when it’s just an excuse to drop plans last minute, it’s about time you let go of that habit.
The idea is to get better at making plans so you only make the ones you have the desire to keep. And any plans that don’t fall into that category are distractions you’re better off without. This does require you to say no to a lot of commitments that you might otherwise say yes to but that’s a whole another blog unto itself. If you don’t know where or how to start, a good rule of thumb is —
If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no.
So in 2020, strive to make better, more concrete plans on which you have every intention to follow through. This will force you to prioritize where your time goes and with enough iterations, you’ll find yourself enjoying your commitments hell of a lot more.
7. Checking your phone first thing in the morning.
Whatever could go wrong with that, eh?
A lot, apparently. If you have the habit of checking your phone in the morning, you have the habit of starting your day by giving away your attention to everything else but you. Your emails, social media, your text messages, none of those focus on your growth.
Checking your notifications first thing in the morning sets a precedence and I am just as guilty of this as the next person but the sad part is this,
Most people check their phone the first thing in the morning because they have nothing else better to do.
Luckily, this is simply a routine you have fallen into and it’s pretty straight-forward to get out of it. If you think about it, how important to you is the first thing that you do in the morning? It definitely begs some inquiry.
Some people ask themselves, “what do I want to achieve today?” or “if I could get one thing done today, what would it be?” or something along those lines. This sets the intention for your day and now you suddenly have a blueprint of where to steer your ship for the next 24 hours.
Me? I like to begin my day with a feeling, “I have so much lined up, I am excited to take on the day”. I’m still struggling to do this every single morning but I know the days that I start with that feeling end up being just a little bit more fulfilling than the rest.
So don’t reach for that phone tomorrow after the alarm goes off. Find your very own thing that you would like to do the moment you open your eyes. And It will slowly but surely start taking you in the direction you want to go in 2020.
There you have it. 7 habits to ditch in 2020 to boost your productivity. The whole point of removing these habits from your life is to get just a little bit more fulfillment from your every day. A tiny tweak in the right direction is all it really takes.
Let me know if there are any other habits you’re planning to say adieu to as you march onwards with the year.