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Last Updated on December 20, 2020

How to Break Bad Habits: I Broke 3 Bad Habits in 2 Months

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How to Break Bad Habits: I Broke 3 Bad Habits in 2 Months

The cycle of bad habits is what keeps us living small and stops us from reaching our true potential. Breaking a bad habit isn’t as hard as it seems; despite being a CEO of a company and raising two children, I still managed to break 3 bad habits I had within 2 months. Yes, that means I learned how to break bad habits in less than 21 days.

I took steps to eliminate them one at a time. Habits such as drinking Coke every day, slouching when sitting, and not having a consistent exercise routine.

How did I break these habits? I used the Control Alternate Delete Method (Ctrl Alt Del).

What is this method, and why is it so effective? Read on to find out how to break bad habits with this unique method.

How to Break Bad Habits With the Control Alternate Delete Method

We all notice on some level what our bad habits are. A lot of the time, we choose to ignore the negative effects the habit can lead to.

For me, I was sitting most of the day in front of my computer at work in a slouching position. I drank Coke every single day in an attempt to stay awake. I put off any kind of exercise regime because I felt that it was better to just relax and have fun after a whole day of work.

As a result, I was leading a very unhealthy lifestyle, suffering from weight gain and back pain. I needed to make a change.

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I started to read books about building habits such as The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, The One Thing by Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan, and The Now Habit by Neil Fiore. After reading all these books, I’ve come up with my own method to quit bad habits—the Ctrl Alt Del Method.

I started by focusing on just one bad habit, the first one being the sheer amount of Coke I was consuming each day.

Every day, I applied the Ctrl Alt Del Method, and after two weeks, not only did I stop drinking Coke every day (I only drank one can in 2 weeks), but I started the better habit of drinking 8 glasses of water every day instead.

After eliminating one bad habit, I moved on to the other two with this same method, and a month later I was:

  • Hitting the gym twice a week.
  • Improving my sitting posture, not only at the office but also at home and everywhere else, improving my back pain.
  • Gaining core muscle, which improved my back pain as well.
  • Losing fat around my waist, which went from 36″ (considered obese level) to 32″ (normal level).

If I can improve my life using this method, then so can you. Using this structure to eliminate your bad habits will increase your success and replace your bad habits with more positive ones.

Control: Master Your Desire

Master your desire

    Identify Your Triggers

    Bad habits, such as drinking alcohol, smoking, and snacking too much, trigger the release of dopamine, a feel-good chemical in the brain.[1] Although you might not like the end result, they give you a positive outcome in the moment.

    When learning how to break bad habits, It’s important to identify what is triggering you to continually act out your habit. This isn’t always an easy step because our habits have been built up over a long period of time.

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    If you need help in identifying your triggers, here’s a list of common bad habits and their triggers: 13 Bad Habits You Need to Quit Right Away

    Self-Reflect

    To help you work out your triggers, do a bit of self-reflection. Ask yourself questions such as:

    • What comfort are you getting from this habit?
    • Why do you need comfort?

    For example, I chose to drink Coke because it tasted good, and it made me feel good when I was stressed. I slouched only when I sat for too long working at my desk and started to feel tired. I skipped exercises because every day after work I felt I already did enough work and didn’t want to work out.

    If you choose to eat fast food every night, you’re probably telling yourself you’re too busy to cook, but ask yourself why. What are your priorities?

    Maybe you have a lack of self-worth that means you don’t have the self-love to want to look after your health. Perhaps it’s a sign you’re not making enough time for important routines like shopping and creating a healthy meal yourself to avoid junk food. Maybe you’ve always had a belief that you’re a bad cook.

    Write a Diary

    As you’re learning how to break bad habits, write down your thoughts and feelings around each habit. Writing things down forces the brain to think harder.[2] This helps you to find the source to your stress or limiting negative beliefs.

    Alternate: Find a Replacement

    Find a replacement

      Find a Positive Alternative Habit

      Once you think you’ve discovered your trigger, try to find a similar but healthy good habit. This is where I replaced Coke with lemon water; slouching with simply taking a walk and stretching my back every hour; and chilling at home after work with workout exercises that I actually found fun.

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      When learning how to break bad habits, you could decide to walk to the office instead of driving or getting off the bus earlier to walk. You could switch to a healthier breakfast cereal instead of grabbing a sugary snack when you head out the door.

      By doing this, you aren’t getting rid of the act altogether like you would if you completely gave something up with nothing to fill that void. This helps your brain accept the improved habit more.

      Create a Defense Plan

      Everyone has moments of weakness when they want to revert back to the bad habit. This is where a plan can help counteract these moments.

      Think of things you can do when the temptations come. For example, if you want to check your phone less, ask your friend or partner to keep it for you or switch it off and read a book. If you’re just starting an exercise routine, get someone to do it with you to keep you accountable.

      Decide on something you will do once you feel triggered to go back to your old habit. Repeating these positive alternative habits consistently will help wire your brain to see them as your normal new habit over time.

      Delete: Remove Temptations

      Remove temptations

        Remove Stuff That Reminds You of the Bad Habit

        Getting rid of anything that reminds you of your bad habit is essential when you’re learning how to break bad habits. For example, I got rid of Coke in my office and at home and replaced my usual office chair with an exercise ball. It makes it much easier to stop slipping back in a weak moment.

        Avoid All Kinds of Temptations

        In the same vein, avoid places or people that you know will tempt you back into that bad habit. Don’t go to the supermarket on an empty stomach to avoid the temptation to buy trashy snacks; don’t drive past that fast food joint, but find an alternative route instead; say no more often to the friend you know will get you drunk again this weekend.

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        It’s all about not putting yourself in the situation where you’re in danger of relapsing.

        Conclusion

        The Control Alternate Delete Method uses the right steps you need to overcome your need to indulge in your bad habits. Working with your core psychology, emotions, and feelings behind your actions is what makes this method effective and easy to apply to all bad habits you have.

        Bad habits form easily, and making changes can seem difficult, but the good news is that it’s all about consistency and repetition in the long term.

        Start using the Control Alternate Delete Method today and you can learn how to break bad habits permanently.

        More Tips on Changing Habits

        Featured photo credit: Adrian Swancar via unsplash.com

        Reference

        More by this author

        Leon Ho

        Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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        Published on September 21, 2021

        How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

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        How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

        The internet is flooded with articles about remote work and its benefits or drawbacks. But in reality, the remote work experience is so subjective that it’s impossible to draw general conclusions and issue one-size-fits-all advice about it. However, one thing that’s universal and rock-solid is data. Data-backed findings and research about remote work productivity give us a clear picture of how our workdays have changed and how work from home affects us—because data doesn’t lie.

        In this article, we’ll look at three decisive findings from a recent data study and two survey reports concerning remote work productivity and worker well-being.

        1. We Take Less Frequent Breaks

        Your home can be a peaceful or a distracting place depending on your living and family conditions. While some of us might find it hard to focus amidst the sounds of our everyday life, other people will tell you that the peace and quiet while working from home (WFH) is a major productivity booster. Then there are those who find it hard to take proper breaks at home and switch off at the end of the workday.

        But what does data say about remote work productivity? Do we work more or less in a remote setting?

        Let’s take a step back to pre-pandemic times (2014, to be exact) when a time tracking application called DeskTime discovered that 10% of most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.

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        Recently, the same time tracking app repeated that study to reveal working and breaking patterns during the pandemic. They found that remote work has caused an increase in time worked, with the most productive people now working for 112 minutes and breaking for 26 minutes.[1]

        Now, this may seem rather innocent at first—so what if we work for extended periods of time as long as we also take longer breaks? But let’s take a closer look at this proportion.

        While breaks have become only nine minutes longer, work sprints have more than doubled. That’s nearly two hours of work, meaning that the most hard-working people only take three to four breaks per 8-hour workday. This discovery makes us question if working from home (WFH) really is as good a thing for our well-being as we thought it was. In addition, in the WFH format, breaks are no longer a treat but rather a time to squeeze in a chore or help children with schoolwork.

        Online meetings are among the main reasons for less frequent breaks. Pre-pandemic meetings meant going to another room, stretching your legs, and giving your eyes a rest from the computer. In a remote setting, all meetings happen on screen, sometimes back-to-back, which could be one of the main factors explaining the longer work hours recorded.

        2. We Face a Higher Risk of Burnout

        At first, many were optimistic about remote work’s benefits in terms of work-life balance as we save time on commuting and have more time to spend with family—at least in theory. But for many people, this was quickly counterbalanced by a struggle to separate their work and personal lives. Buffer’s 2021 survey for the State of Remote Work report found that the biggest struggle of remote workers is not being able to unplug, with collaboration difficulties and loneliness sharing second place.[2]

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        Buffer’s respondents were also asked if they are working more or less since their shift to remote work, and 45 percent admitted to working more. Forty-two percent said they are working the same amount, while 13 percent responded that they are working less.

        Longer work hours and fewer quality breaks can dramatically affect our health, as long-term sitting and computer use can cause eye strain, mental fatigue, and other issues. These, in turn, can lead to more severe consequences, such as burnout and heart disease.

        Let’s have a closer look at the connection between burnout and remote work.

        McKinsey’s report about the Future of work states that 49% of people say they’re feeling some symptoms of burnout.[3] And that may be an understatement since employees experiencing burnout are less likely to respond to survey requests and may have even left the workforce.

        From the viewpoint of the employer, remote workers may seem like they are more productive and working longer hours. However, managers must be aware of the risks associated with increased employee anxiety. Otherwise, the productivity gains won’t be long-lasting. It’s no secret that prolonged anxiety can reduce job satisfaction, decrease work performance, and negatively affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues.[4]

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        3. Despite everything, We Love Remote Work

        An overwhelming majority—97 percent—of Buffer report’s survey respondents say they would like to continue working remotely to some extent. The two main benefits mentioned by the respondents are the ability to have a flexible schedule and the flexibility to work from anywhere.

        McKinsey’s report found that more than half of employees would like their workplace to adopt a more flexible hybrid virtual-working model, with some days of work on-premises and some days working remotely. To be more exact, more than half of employees report that they would like at least three work-from-home days a week once the pandemic is over.

        Companies will increasingly be forced to find ways to satisfy these workforce demands while implementing policies to minimize the risks associated with overworking and burnout. Smart companies will embrace this new trend and realize that adopting hybrid models can also be a win for them—for example, for accessing talent in different locations and at a lower cost.

        Remote Work: Blessing or Plight?

        Understandably, workers worldwide are tempted to keep the good work-life aspects that have come out of the pandemic—professional flexibility, fewer commutes, and extra time with family. But with the once strict boundaries between work and life fading, we must remain cautious. We try to squeeze in house chores during breaks. We do online meetings from the kitchen or the same couch we watch TV shows from, and many of us report difficulties switching off after work.

        So, how do we keep our private and professional lives from hopelessly blending together?

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        The answer is that we try to replicate the physical and virtual boundaries that come naturally in an office setting. This doesn’t only mean having a dedicated workspace but also tracking your work time and stopping when your working hours are finished. In addition, it means working breaks into your schedule because watercooler chats don’t just naturally happen at home.

        If necessary, we need to introduce new rituals that resemble a normal office day—for example, going for a walk around the block in the morning to simulate “arriving at work.” Remote work is here to stay. If we want to enjoy the advantages it offers, then we need to learn how to cope with the personal challenges that come with it.

        Learn how to stay productive while working remotely with these tips: How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

        Featured photo credit: Jenny Ueberberg via unsplash.com

        Reference

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