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Last Updated on December 20, 2020

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

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

        The Ultimate Coffee Guide For Energy Boost A Complete Guide to Goal Setting for Personal Success What Are The Top 7 Priorities To Have In Life? Why Do I Procrastinate? 5 Root Causes And How to Tackle Them Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Overcome It)

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        Last Updated on February 17, 2021

        50 Ways to Increase Productivity and Achieve More in Less Time

        50 Ways to Increase Productivity and Achieve More in Less Time

        If you feel like you don’t have enough time to do everything you want to do, maybe it’s time to check-in with your time management skills.

        No one is born to be very good at time management, so that’s okay if you think you’re bad in it. But everyone can learn to boost their productivity and achieve more!

        Here are 50 ways to increase productivity and add hours to your day.

        1. Set a Timer

        Estimate the time you need to tackle different tasks and set a timer for each of your tasks. How you go about this is up to you as there are many different ways. There is the Pomodoro technique where you focus on a task for 25 minutes followed by a five minute break afterwards.

        In the event that you have a task that will take much longer than that, you can consider one of the many timer-based apps. One that comes to mind is Clockify. It’s used for freelancers and entrepreneurs alike, however it’s a good way to be setting yourself a timer. It provides reports and you can serve as a project manager of sorts too. Best of all, it’s free.

        2. Eliminate All Distractions

        Distractions include the phone, email notifications and having multiple web browsers open on the desktop. Just as it’s important to be organized offline, it’s key to have things organized online as well. This free guide End Distractions And Find Your Focus is a good tool to help you. With this guide, you’ll learn how to get rid of distractions and boost productivity. Grab your free guide here.

        You can also learn more on how to get rid of all distractions in this guide: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

        3. Listen to Music That Boosts Productivity

        Distractions should be avoided, but sometimes a bit of music in the background can help you focus.

        Of course, it doesn’t need to be heavy rock music, but a bit of Beethoven may do you some good.

        Here’s a complete guide to help you pick the right music for better productivity: How To Maximize Your Productivity With Music: A Complete Guide

        4. Find Meaning in What You Do (And Love What You Do)

        Enjoying what you do is the ultimate way to increase your productivity.

        If you aren’t sure what you love doing yet, don’t worry. Leo Babauta has some unique ways to help you: How to Find Your Passion

        5. Prioritize your tasks ahead of time.

        By listing your tasks in order of importance, you can make sure that you finish all of your most important tasks during the day.

        Learn a unique technique to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster.

        6. Batch Similar Tasks into a Single Batch.

        Tasks like blog writing, phone calls, email and errands can be grouped into a single batch. You will save time by completing similar tasks in one session. One way to help you with organizing all of those things is through the app Todoist. It’s an easy and simple way for you to plan out your day, set reminders, and group all of your most important tasks in a convenient spot.

        7. Complete Your Most Dreaded Tasks First Thing in the Morning.

        Whichever activity you are dreading the most is probably the one you need to complete first thing in the morning.

        Many people tend to check emails in the morning because after checking a list of emails, they feel fulfilled. But that’s just an illusion of having achieved more.

        Doing simple tasks like checking emails first in the morning is bad for you. Instead, do the difficult tasks because you have more energy in the morning to tackle them!

        8. Reward Yourself for Finishing a Big Task

        To stay motivated for whatever you do, reward yourself every now and then.

        Keep track of your small wins and milestones and celebrate them. So whenever you struggle about your progress, you see how far you’ve come!

        Find out more about this 2-Step Approach to Self-Motivation: Track Small Wins and Reward Yourself.

        9. Don’t Multitask

        Research has shown that multitasking is not productive. If you think you can multitask, think again.

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        For optimum productivity, focus on one thing at a time.

        10. Step Away from the Computer

        The Internet has become one of the number one distraction. To increase your productivity, try to do as much of your work offline as possible.

        I do this a lot when I try to brainstom new ideas and have found it to be very beneficial to simply unplug.

        11. Use Focus Tools

        Make good use of apps and technology to help you remove distractions.

        Here’re 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools to help you stay focused. This way, you’re not distracted by the web, e-mail, or IM.

        Also, join the free Fast-Track Class – Overcoming Distraction, and you’ll learn the one simple method to work even when you’re surrounded by distractions. Join the free session now!

        12. Just Start

        Often times, starting is the hardest part. People tend to wait for the perfect time with perfect condition to start. But there’s no perfect condition.

        Once you get going, you will quickly get into a rhythm that could last for hours.

        13. Find out Your Productive Hours

        Everyone has a certain time of the day in which they are more productive than others. For me, it’s the morning.

        Find out when your prime time is for productivity and optimize your work schedule accordingly.

        14. Keep a Notebook and Pen on Hand at All Times

        This way, you can write down your thoughts, to-dos and ideas at any time. The key is to get everything out of your head and onto paper. Your subconscious mind won’t be reminding you about it every other second. Another consideration is getting the app Evernote. Not only does this save you on ink and paper, Evernote is a convenient place for you to jot down notes and thoughts and then share them with the team. In certain circumstances, this can prove useful if you’re the type of person that has a lot of ideas that you want to share.

        15. Write a Blog to Chronicle Your Own Personal Development and Achievements

        The blog keeps you accountable and always working towards self improvement and personal growth.

        When you write down all the small achievements you’ve been having, you’re also more motivated to move forward.

        And you know what, this is how I started Lifehack too! What also helped me in starting Lifehack is WordPress, which allows people to set up a website for free. WordPress has simplified a lot of the process of building a site to the point that virtually anyone can build a website now.

        16. Write out a To-Do-List Each Day

        I like to plan my day the night before. This way, I can get started on my most important tasks as soon as I wake up. The Full Life Planner is a nice tool to help you organize your days and get things that matter done. Check out the planner here and start to plan your day ahead easily!

        Make sure you don’t make any of these common to-do-list mistakes!

        17. Write Your Most Important Tasks and To-Dos on a Calendar.

        The key to good time management is knowing where to be and what to be doing there at any given time. Effective calendar management goes hand in hand with good task list management.

        Learn here How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space.

        18. Reflect on Your Productivity Constantly

        As you go throughout your day, repeatedly ask yourself:

        “Am I currently making the best possible use of my time?”

        This one simple question can be an excellent boost to your productivity.

        19. Get up Early Before Anyone Else

        I know it could be difficult for some to wake up early in the morning but nothing beats a quiet house!

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        Here’s How to Start Your Day at 5:00 AM and some Simple Things Early Risers Do to make waking up early easier.

        20. Get Plenty of Sleep

        When you work online, sleep can become a long lost memory. However, it’s important to get plenty of sleep so that your working hours can be as productive as possible.

        Try out this night routine which I highly recommend for productivity: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide: Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

        21. Exercise

        Research has shown that midday exercise boosts productivity and morale in the workplace.

        Take a short walk at lunch or do some simple stretches during your break to maximize your productivity.

        Here I have some exercises recommendations for you:

        22. Outsource as Much as Possible

        If you want to achieve more in less time, learn to delegate or outsource work. Here are just a few of the companies that will help you outsource your everyday tasks:

        Also, read this guide to learn how to delegate effectively: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

        23. Set Some Exciting Goals

        Without worthy goals, you will never be motivated to get things done.

        Set goals that are challenging and achievable. The best goal setting framework is a SMART goal. That said, there are other tools that can help you out as well. For example, The Dreamers’ Guide To Reaching Your Goal is a great guide to help you set and reach goals effectively. Grab your free guide and learn how to make your goals happen this year!

        24. Tell Other People About Your Goals

        When you tell others about your goals, you will instantly be held accountable.

        25. Listen to Podcasts

        Listen to educational podcasts or audio books while you’re driving to work, cleaning the house, exercising, or cooking dinner.

        Audio learning has the power to add hours to your day. Not to mention, your cranium is sure to thank you for it.

        Some recommendations for you: 11 Podcasts To Inspire Yourself

        26. Read David Allen’s best-selling book Getting Things Done

        This is one of the most important productivity books you will ever read. Read it, apply the tips in your daily lives and get more things done.

        Here’re more great books about productivity too: 35 Books on Productivity and Organizational Skills for an Effective Life

        27. Learn to Speed Read

        When you can read faster, you will read and learn more! Check out these 10 Ways to Increase Your Reading Speed.

        You can also make use of the app OutRead to help speed up your reading speed!

        28. Learn to Skip When You Read

        When you’re reading a book, just read the parts that you need and skip the rest. But you have to read with a purpose.

        Learn how to make it work here: How to Read 10X Faster and Retain More

        29. Focus on Result-Oriented Activities

        Pareto’s law (also known as the 80 20 rule) states that 80% of the outputs result from 20% of the inputs. This means that 20% of our actions result in 80% of the results.

        We must find the 20% that is creating the 80% of our desired outcomes and focus solely on those activities.

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        30. Take a Break

        You can’t always be working at optimum productivity. Instead, you should shoot for working in short bursts at your most productive times.

        31. Start a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule

        What is polyphasic sleep?

        Polyphasic sleep is a sleep pattern specification intended to compress sleep time to 2-5 hours daily.[1] This is achieved by spreading out sleep into short (around 20-45 minute) naps throughout the day. This allows for more waking hours with relatively high alertness.

        While you can learn more about it here, you’re recommended to take some naps during the day to recharge your energy too.

        32. Learn to Say “No”.

        We can’t do everything and therefore we must learn when to say no in order to save our sanity.

        Learn the Gentle Art of Saying No from Leo Babauta.

        33. Go on an Information Diet

        Most of the world lives on information overload. We must eliminate mindless Internet surfing.

        Stop reading three different newspapers a day and checking your RSS feeds multiple times a day. Otherwise, you’ll never get anything done.

        The key is to limit yourself only to information that you can immediately take action on. Here’re some simple tips you can try: 10 Simple Productivity Tricks To Manage Overloaded Information

        34. Organize Your Office

        The piles of paper around your desk can be a huge barrier on your productivity. Optimize your time by organizing your office, setting up a system and dumping the junk.

        Check out these 21 Tips to Organize Your Office and Get More Done and 20 Easy Home Office Organization Ideas to Boost Your Productivity.

        35. Find a Mentor

        By modeling after those who have already achieved success, you will save yourself a lot of time and energy.

        A good mentor is hard to find, so here’s a guide to help you: What to Look for in a Mentor

        36. Learn Keyboard Shortcuts

        With technology’s help, you can double your work efficiency. Even better, you learn all the shortcuts when using technology, for example keyboard shortcuts.

        When you use keyboard shortcut, you gain 64 hours every year!

        Not sure what shortcuts to lear? Check out these 22 Tricks That Can Make Anyone A Keyboard Ninja.

        Besides learning the shortcuts, you can also create keyboard shortcuts with AutoHotKey.

        37. Improve Your Typing Speed to Save Time

        Do you know you can save 21 days per year just by typing fast?

        You don’t really need to take some serious courses to type faster, try these typing games online:

        38. Work from Home and Avoid the Daily Commute

        If your job is a flexible one, consider working from home. This saves you the commute time and you’ll find yourself more energetic throughout the day as you have saved the long ride.

        Take a look at these tips to help you stay productive while working from home:

        How to Work from Home and Stay Ultra-Productive

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        39. Get Rid of Time Wasters

        Common time wasters include Instant Messenger, video games, Flickr, checking your stats 10 times a day, television and extraneous Internet surfing.

        Don’t rely on your willpower, make use of some of these useful tools to help you stay focus: 10 Online Apps for Better Focus

        40. Plan Your Meals in Advance

        Plan out all of your meals a week ahead and make your grocery list accordingly. This allows you to focus on the necessary – saving you time and money. You can also save yourself even more time through a wide variety of apps. One app that I find helpful is Mealime. It’s an app that provides you with a wide selection of recipes and also a convenient spot for your grocery list as well.

        Considering the fact that over 4 million users have this app, it goes to show that there is a good selection of meal plans that you can follow and that the app is friendly to use.

        41. Cook Your Meals in Bulk

        When you cook your meals in bulk, you will have plenty of leftovers. This can avoid having to cook everyday.

        Find out more about how to make cooking in bulk works: Once a Month Cooking: Productivity Hack or Overrated Time Suck?

        42. Protect Yourself from Unnecessary Phone Time with Caller ID

        The minutes you spend on picking up unnecessary phone calls are time wasted. You can prevent that from happening.

        Check out this detailed guide how you can deal with those unnecessary phone calls: How To Lose the Useless Items that Weigh Down Your Day – Cellphone Calls

        43. Take Shorter Showers

        This one may sound silly but it’s actually something I struggle with. I spend up to 30 minutes in the shower. Think of the time I could save simply by speeding up a bit.

        44. Save the Trips to Bank by Taking Direct Deposit

        Many employers now offer direct deposit. If yours does, then be sure and take advantage of it and save yourself from a number of trips to the bank.

        45. Auto Pay Your Bills

        How many times have you been worried about whether you missed the bills deadline?

        Auto paying your bills will save you time and eliminate late fees and increased interest rates.

        46. Shop Online

        Whenever possible, avoid going to the store. When you shop online, you can be more focus about what you’re getting.

        47. Speed up your Internet With a Broadband Connection

        Many people are aware of the slow speed of internet but aren’t doing anything about it. In fact, this is the number one Internet time-saver!

        If you must use dial-up, then you can use accelerators like Propel and SlipStream to double or even triple your speed.

        48. Keep up the Speed of Your Computer

        If you’re a Windows user, use Windows hibernation feature to avoid the slowdown of exiting and restarting Windows.

        Or maybe, consider switching to Mac as there’re plenty of Advantages You Probably Don’t Know About Switching To Mac From PC.

        49. Turn off the TV

        The average American watches more than 4 hours of television every day. Over a 65-year life, that’s 9 years glued to the tube.

        For better health and productivity, turn off the TV. Here’re 11 more reasons to tell you to stop watching TV so often.

        Turn off the TV and you are sure to get more out of life.

        50. Use a Tivo or DVR

        This can help you cut an hour-long television show down to just 40 minutes. You can save time while not missing the fun.

        So, here’s the ultimate list of techniques you should learn to boost productivity. Pick the techniques that work for you and make them your daily habits. As time goes, you’ll find yourself being a lot more productive.

        More Time Management Tips

        Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

        Reference

        [1] Medical News Today: What is biphasic and polyphasic sleep?

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