Habits for Effectiveness

When I was a graduate student at Berkeley, there were nights that I would take the BART into San Francisco to hang out in the city. On one of these nights early in my time there, I found myself sitting next to a guy around my age who was reading 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I was trying to make friends and meet a romantic partner at the time, so I leaned over to him and said, “you look highly effective in that suit.”

As awesome as that line was, we did not become friends or romantic partners.

I’ve never read the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People even though I’ve been intrigued by its contents since this encounter. Recently, though, I have been creating daily habits of my own that have helped me become more effective so I thought I’d share seven of them.

  1. Wake Up at 7am
    This was one of my resolutions for 2018, and I’ve done it all but two days so far this year. I don’t have a consistent bedtime, but it’s been great getting up at the same time every morning. It’s taken a huge question mark out of my day. I learned this sleeping tip and others by reading W. Chris Winter’s The Sleep Solution.
  2. Meditation
    A friend recommended Headspace, and it’s awesome! I use it in the morning right after I wake up and in the evening before I go to sleep. Lots of research on the usefulness of meditation out there. I’ve found in the four months since I started doing it that it’s helped me better handle stress and stressful situations.
  3. Morning Pages
    Still haven’t made it the entire way through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, but I try to do the morning pages she recommends. Every morning I write three pages about what’s going on in my life. It’s helped me process things and clarify my priorities. You don’t need a fancy journal to do this, but I love these layflat softcover notebooks by Denik (cool company–they build schools and support artists).
  4. Exercise
    I’ve recently recognized that exercise is my preferred leisure activity, which has made me feel better about investing a lot of time in it. I try to run or go to the gym every day. Like meditation this helps me deal with stress and stay healthy.
  5. No Social Media Before Noon
    This has been the habit that’s been hardest to keep for sure. But when I do it, it’s great. Keeps me focused on my work and what’s important to me in the morning. Also, limiting myself in the morning helps me to limit myself later in the day. I forget exactly where I picked up this tip, but I’m grateful for it.
  6. Budgeting
    A friend recommended YNAB. It took awhile to set up and get comfortable with the software, but now that I am I feel more in control of my finances than I ever have before.
  7. Productivity Journal 
    There are a lot of productivity journals out there. I use Best Self. Like the morning pages, it’s helped me to clarify my priorities and work much more effectively.

If you’re looking to better understand habits and how they can reshape your life, check out Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit.


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