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11 Bad Habits That You Don’t Realize Are Costing You

11 Bad Habits That You Don’t Realize Are Costing You
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Want to know the biggest difference between people who are in shape and people who are overweight or obese? Or people who save a lot of money and those who don’t?

Habits.

Your bad habits are costing you time, money, and health. Here are 11 examples, along with some tips on how to change those bad habits into good ones:

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1. Eating unhealthy foods.

This is one bad habit that may be slowly killing you. The Western diet of highly-processed foods is making you fatter, sicker, and more depressed. Eat more real foods like these instead, and you’ll look better, feel better, and live longer.

2. Failing to exercise.

Lack of exercise puts you at greater risk for chronic conditions like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and stroke. The key to getting into better shape is first making a commitment and then taking tiny steps every day to create better habits. Start with simply 5 minutes of exercise every day for a week, and see how much better you feel.

3. Reading gossip magazines.

William Penn said, “Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” Gossip magazines may be mindless entertainment, but they’re costing you valuable time that you could be spending with people you love, doing work that fulfills you, or improving your health. So drop that copy of the National Enquirer and pick up a good book that stimulates your mind instead.

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4. Not planning your finances.

On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your financial planning habits? Most of us are somewhere between a 1 and a 5. If you want to save more money, you need to have a plan. Here’s an easy first step: talk to someone who knows more about money than you do. If you don’t have money to hire a financial planner, talk to a friend or family member who is good with money. Ask for advice. And use this knowledge to start creating a financial plan for yourself. Just start somewhere.

5. Buying coffee.

I’m not saying you have to give up your caffeine kick each day. Coffee is actually good for you (sans the sugar and cream). Why not brew your own though? Let’s say you pay 5 dollars for a coffee each day. That means you’re dropping $1,825 each year. Buy your own, brew it at home, and save $1,000 or more over the course of a year.

6. Not maintaining your home.

This bad habit can cost you some serious bucks. While doing routine maintenance on things like your furnace, roof, yard, etc. can be a nuisance, it will save you money in the long run. Don’t wait until it’s too late to take care of your home.

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7. Playing the lottery.

While chasing the Mega Millions might be a fun way to spend dollars, you might as well burn your money. Here’s why: your odds of winning most lotteries are slim-to-none. For the Powerball, you have a 1 in 175,223,510 chance of winning. Save your money and start a rainy-day fund with those dollars instead and put the money into savings or invest it in the stock market.

8. Smoking cigarettes.

A pack of smokes gets more expensive every year. If you smoke a pack a day and each pack costs you $8, you’re dropping nearly $3,000 a year on this bad habit. Not to mention increasing your odds of dying from lung cancer by 5 to 30 times.

9. Ignoring car maintenance.

A vehicle not maintained can quickly turn into a money pit too. Check your owner’s manual to make sure you get oil changes and other maintenance according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. It will save you money in the long run.

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10. Getting road rage.

Listen, we all get frustrated by bad drivers. But road rage solves nothing and puts unnecessary stress on your heart. If you find your blood boiling behind the wheel, try these 10 gadgets that can help make driving a bit less stressful.

11. Not sleeping enough.

Up to 40 percent of people suffer from insomnia, and this habit can affect your health and work productivity big-time. Here are some common reasons why you sleep well and what to do about them.

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Scott Christ

Scott Christ is a writer, entrepreneur, and founder of Pure Food Company.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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