No Habits, No Productivity

By Francisco Sáez • June 03, 2013

I am absolutely convinced that the main reason why many people are not well organized and continue to live burdened by the pressure of their work and personal tasks, is that they fail to establish the necessary habits needed to keep everything in life under control.

It is certainly not for a lack of interest. At the very least, when you find yourself in a situation in which your commitments and responsibilities force you to live in a constant state of worry and anxiety, you will essentially be forced to try and find some solutions. You will ask questions, read, do some research, and check out possible solutions.

It is not lack of knowledge. You don’t need to know GTD or some other personal productivity methodology to stay organized. With some little common sense notions, you can have everything—more or less—under control.

I usually ask clients who stop using FacileThings as their personal organization tool why they stopped using it (it is difficult to improve a product if you don’t know what the users think about it.) The answer usually has nothing to do with money, or even with the application itself. The most common answer is, “I love your app, it’s just that I couldn’t manage to build the habit of using it every day.” For others, the answer is, “Oh, I’ve been too busy lately,” a response that shows the same foundational problem (precisely when you are too busy is when you most need some support.)

A habit is a way of thinking or doing that is acquired through repetition and persistence. Acquiring a good habit is not easy, but the reward is worth it. When you do not have it, you are insecure—you waver. When you have it, it transcends you—you fall back on it without even realizing it, with no effort at all.

In the world of martial arts, a kata is a set of movements you practice repetitively, over and over again (usually within a group), with the aim of learning how to execute a certain technique in a natural way. The goal is to internalize the movement so you can execute it at the right time, adapting it to the circumstances, even without thinking about it.

If you want to build the habits that lead you to be the master of your life and enjoy your time, you should deliberately practice these katas for personal productivity:

  1. Constantly capture everything that grabs your attention.
  2. Once a day, clarify what you have captured.
  3. Once a week, review all your lists and projects.

The first one is, perhaps, the most difficult to acquire; it requires discipline and self-control. With the other two, you can get help from your calendar and set reminders and alarms to help you as you work to form effective habits of productivity. Remember that when they become habits, you will not need to think about them anymore.

If you liked this article, you may be interested in our ebook “The Pursuit of Mastery”, of it is part. You can purchase it in Kindle, iPad, Nook and PDF formats on the Hyperink website at the price of $4.95, or directly to your Kindle on

About the author

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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