Personal Productivity is a Matter of Habits

By Francisco Sáez • February 20, 2012

“First we make our habits, then our habits make us.” ~ Charles C. Noble

Our habits form our character and drive our lives. They consistently—and often unconsciously—are reflected in our daily behavior, and in our response to any situation. Ultimately, our habits are what define how efficient or inefficient we are.

Can you manage your daily commitments without much stress? Are you an efficient person in carrying out your tasks? If not, the first step is realizing that you need to think or do things differently to improve certain aspects of your life. There are many external factors that you can blame, but things are not going to change until you accept that the problem is yours. And it is not transferable.

The good news is that habits can be learned—and also unlearned—. The bad news is that it is not easy at all. Changing our natural tendency to procrastinate or to get stuck into urgent situations requires more than a few small changes in our lives. To change habits, to acquire a new habit that will benefit us or eliminate one that is hurting us, we need a relatively long and painful process that require absolute commitment and, above all, a higher motivation.

When you start to learn a new habit, you come across a strong internal resistance to doing things differently. Your brain rebels and tries insistently to push you back on the old path. This natural force is what currently prevents you to reach the achievements you want. At all times, you must keep in mind the long-term rewards that will be converted into happiness and, therefore, make it worthwhile.

To Steven Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, a habit is the intersection of knowledge—what to do and why—, skill—how to do it—and desire—the inner motivation that urges you to want to do ti—. You need to have knowledge, skill and desire to make something a habit, so you can break through to new levels of personal and interpersonal effectiveness.

There are many methods, techniques and technological tools that will help you improve your personal productivity, but they will work only if you develop the necessary habits. If you are starting to implement GTD, you need to acquire consistenly the three necessary habits to make it work, before checking out every existing application. Get used to writing down everything that worries you, get used to making decisions about everything that concerns you and get used to reviewing your lists often. After that, you can seek the tools that allow you to implement these habits as simply and efficiently as possible.

About the author

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Francisco Sáez (@franciscojsaez) is the founder and CEO of FacileThings. He is also a web developer specializing in Ruby on Rails who is passionate about personal productivity and GTD as a means to a better life.

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