Productivity is the art of practicing leadership on yourself. In Productivity Tuesday, I’ll reflect and share on that practice, and of bridging the gap between intention and the outcomes we seek. Whatever I share by way of advice and tips will come with some kind of empirical evidence or insight from personal experience.

The first PT is about habits.

Habits are a contrast to one the default framework of productivity - goal oriented thinking. Goals are great in that they provide a clear definition of an end state, typically accompanied by a deadline.

Habits are defined as routines of behaviour that repeat regularly and tend to occur subconciously.

Habits can be an extremely powerful framework to achieve our desired outcomes, and have a number of benefits over the traditional goal-oriented thinking in the context of daily productivity:

  • To apply good goalsetting practice in everyday life can be a very cumbersome exercise. In particular, it’s hard to tell if something is achievable over a long period of time due to inherent uncertainties in life.
  • Habits are easier and show progress quickly. Streaks of progress release endorphins that keep you going. Instead of trying to publish a novel, simply writing something every day, is much less daunting and requires less continual willpower.

That said, habits aren’t for everything. I have recently moved to augmenting my daily routine with a combination of a discrete goal-based and habit based framework. The habit based framework is extremely simple - within a given time period (weeks/months), I define habits to either create, improve, or remove. I’ve only experimented with habits that recur daily. These include - reading, writing something, coding. For the last few weeks, I’ve been able to maintain a daily habit of all 3. In the next few weeks, I’ll attempt to rebuild a workout habit with this framework.

I’ve also started tracking these habits.

A recommendation - the first habit to setup is a cycle of regular planning and self reflection. Regular planning at the beginning of, and retrospective at the end of every day/week/month is your personal knowledge and learning loop. It defines the cadence of improving and adjusting your other habits.

A lot of this comes thinking from this article from the Farnam Street blog, and this tweetstorm.