Let’s Talk About Habits, Baby

Brett BovaBlog

We’ve all heard of this little word “habit,” but do we pay attention to it in our everyday lives?  If you look up the word, the varying definitions all say something similar, which is something along the lines of a routine, practice, or manner you perform regularly to the point where it becomes an involuntary response in most situations.

I had never thought much about habits until I started getting older and wanted to make some changes in my mindset on a few things.  If you’re like me and tend to lack patience, then keep reading.

Last year I read the book Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear, which was probably one of the best books I had read in 2021.  The concept of the book is basically to improve with marginal gains by focusing on small 1 percent improvement as opposed to going all in on the goal you want to achieve.  I mean, how simple does that sound?  Focus on small 1 percent improvement?  Even the impatience in me knows that’s practical.  I know I can do that.

“Good habits make time your ally.  Bad habits make time your enemy.”

Think about that for a second.  How many times have you tried to get started on a task, and you really need to buckle down on it, but you’re finding yourself doing a whole host of other things you feel like you need to do before you actually start the task – – and those things have absolutely nothing to do with the task.

For example,  I’ve had ideas about this blog post roaming around in my head for about a week.  I’ve jotted some notes down here and there, but I’ve never stopped long enough to actually write anything.

Today I made it a goal to get something done with this post.  I said to myself, “At 8:00 a.m. I will do a virtual yoga class, and after that, I will sit down and get started on writing the blog post.”

So I finished up my yoga class, and guess what happened?  I decided to do some laundry and then pay some bills and then text some people and, oh, let’s not forget to check Instagram and then and then and then… and all the while that little voice in the back of my head is saying, “You need to get started, sis!  You have work to do!”  And the more I do other things, the louder that voice gets.

Does that sound familiar?  Procrastinators unite!

So I finally sit down to write, but then I can’t find the pen I want to use to jot my thoughts down in my notebook.  I mean, I obviously can’t work if I don’t have that one particular pen… it doesn’t matter if I already have two other pens near me… I need that one pen.  So I get up and go get the pen.

More time wasted, but, man, I felt better once I got that darn pen.

But in all seriousness, what’s my deal?  Why am I wasting all of this time?  What am I lacking in the habits department?

Well, for starters, I don’t have my work stuff very organized.  If I had taken the time to set out my laptop, notebook, pen that I apparently can’t live without, and my Atomic Habits book in one designated work space the night before, then when I got up this morning, I would’ve seen all of that laid out, and after yoga class, I could’ve gotten straight to work.

Good habit to practice:  having things organized the night before results in less time wasted and more work accomplished. 

And it wouldn’t take me much time to do all of that the night before, probably 5 whole minutes to make that one small change.

Which leads me to one of my favorite quotes in the book:

“You do not rise to the level of your goals.  You fall to the level of your systems.”

Oh, that’s good, isn’t it?

Basically, what he’s saying here is if the goal is the result you want to achieve, then the system is the process that leads to the result.

So having my work stuff out and organized is the tiny change in my system I need to make in order to achieve the goal of being more efficient in getting my blog post writing accomplished.

A new school year is upon us, parents.  What systems do you have in place to transition your kiddos from laidback summer fun to the back-to-school mindset?  Do you start having your kids go to bed early or start having them get into some sort of nighttime routine so they can get into better sleep habits to wake up early for school?

Court reporting students, a new semester is about to begin for you.  Getting to that next speed is always the goal, but do you have a system in place to get there?  Part of your system can be reading your steno notes and finding what word or words are holding you back.  Perhaps taking 15 minutes each day to practice those and make sure you’re hitting the right stroke needs to be part of your system as well.  That tiny 1 percent change may make all the difference for you and get you to your goal.

And as far as the book Atomic Habits goes, check it out if you’re looking to make some adjustments to your habits but need a more practical approach to get there.  It’s worth the read (or listen if you’re an audiobook fan).