Over the last few months, you might have noticed a lot of articles and emails about productivity from Hack the System.
Earlier this year, I had a moment of revelation while traveling — a very private moment that I only detailed to my newsletter readers. It was in that moment that I took a long hard look at my habits and results, and began monitoring and experimenting in order to improve myself. I’ve since gotten a much clearer understanding of how I work, and what sort of habits and actions I need to develop so that I can fully thrive.
I’m generally an extreme procrastinator. People often ask me how I have achieved so much in my life time, but inside I’ve always felt like an impostor — someone who really wasn’t able to achieve as much as he possibly could. My productivity level online (as measured by RescueTime) hovers around 30% during 9h/day usage — meaning that, in the 9-hours per day that I spend on the computer, only 2.7 hours are used productively (I’m wasting 6.3 on chat, email, Reddit, and Facebook). Imagine if I were able to put all of those hours to good use…
This year, I decided that it’s time to start developing the habits that will help me succeed, rather than simply using tactics to help me get around my bad habits. See: How to get more done.
A Routine Requires A Home
One of the most important foundations to building a habit is having a home place. Through years of travel, I’ve managed to find myself in transitory locations for the majority of my time — locations where I had a place to sleep, but didn’t really consider home (for various reasons).
For my first month in Boston, my friend and mentor Nick Kho (aka Papa, one of the characters from The Game and Founder of Real Social Dynamics) graciously offered to host me for the month of August. It was a great arrangement, but this weekend I spent the majority of time finding, renting, and moving in to my new place — a large room in a spacious apartment in Beacon Hill in Boston, MA. The best part? It’s walking distance to my work. Plus, my daily walk takes me right through the Boston Commons Park, meaning that I get at least a few moments every day in nature.
Having a home and having a work space is a great first step in building a routine.
Building No More than One Habit At A Time — And Reaffirming the Ones You’ve Already Made
One of the central tenets of habit formation is that you cannot and should not attempt to build more than one habit at a time. (You can sometimes replace a bad habit with a good one, but it is dangerous to try and add 2 new habits to your routine). Thus, for at least the rest of this year, I’m attempting to add a new simple habit into my routine, once a month.
They say it takes somewhere from 30-66 days to from a new habit. In my experience, you can spend 30 days building, and another 30 days reaffirming the habit, to make it stick. That’s why I’m adding in no more than one habit a month at this point — at least until I see some major gains.
For the month of August, I focused on building the Gym Habit. I crafted a weekly routine with my trainer Adam Gilbert of My Body Tutor, and headed over to the gym five days a week. I managed to make it there 19/20 weekdays — excellent.
To reaffirm that habit this month, I’ve hired a private trainer to help me push through another month.
New Habits To Focus On
I jotted down a short list of new habits I’d love to add to my routine, to see where they fit in.
1) Daily Meditation
2) Writing 750 Word Every Day
3) Daily Floss
4) Before sleeping, write 3-5 MiTs (Most Important Tasks) down. In the morning, start working on them BEFORE checking email.
5) Turn off computer every night by 11pm.
6) Keep a gratitude journal and write 3-5 things I’m grateful for every night before sleeping.
7) Add a ritual to my morning routine: Visualize my day ahead of time and how I’ll approach it, then watch inspirational videos.
Here it is
Write 750 words every day, towards some sort of finished article.
My good friend Tynan began writing every day a couple years ago, and I watched the quality of his words drastically improve. Now, he didn’t publish all those words—in fact, he often threw away more than half of what he wrote. The truth is, the act of allowing himself space to throw away words truly increased the quality of his writing — he only has to publish the best ones he writes.
I’m hoping that, by adding in a daily routine of writing, I’ll be able to craft some better stories that you’ll love to read. And maybe even inspire you to add some of your own.
Will you join me on this quest? Leave a message in the comments — what habit will you start working on for the month of September? If we start working together, today, by the end of the month we’ll see some big changes in our lives.
Let me know below in the comments. What habit will you focus on building in the next month? Why?