Keystone HabitsAUTHOR: Francisco Sáez
If you are interested in being more productive and you feel it is too hard for you, you want to know the psychological mechanisms by which habits are governed, since your personal productivity depends on them.
A few months ago I wrote an article on the book The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg, summarizing how habits work and how they can be changed and created. Duhigg also talks in his book about a very interesting concept: keystone habits.
Not all habits are equally important. There are certain habits, the keystone habits, that trigger the development of other habits that are seemingly unrelated.
For example, studies show that the habit of doing exercise, even only once a week, helps change other behavior patterns (I can vouch for that!) Normally, people who start exercising regularly also start eating in a healthier way, drinking and smoking less, using their credit cards less and being more productive at work. They don’t really know why, but it seems that exercising makes other good habits easier to establish. Most times we don’t even realize it.
Another less obvious example: There is a correlation between making your bed every morning and a greater sense of well-being during the day, better productivity and increased ability to meet budgets.
In short, if you hit a keystone habit for you—which, moreover, is not so easy—, you can cause major changes in many aspects of your life. Sometimes, it may be easier to establish the habit you want by taking a detour, that is, establishing another one that pushes you to your goal.
Keystone habits cause a chain reaction because they create new structures in your brain, which generate small wins that have a great power to influence your behavior. In addition, these habits create cultural values that get stuck and help, in moments of doubt, make decisions and avoid temptations.