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Catch Public Transport! A Hidden Gem for Heightened Productivity

Catch Public Transport! A Hidden Gem for Heightened Productivity

Something amazing has happened to me recently: my productivity has gone through the roof! I’ve been able to get so much more done this year in a much shorter time frame than I have ever experienced before. Even more beautiful, I have rediscovered my love for some things that I had previously neglected and have incorporated them back into my life.

So, what has actually changed in my life?

I now catch public transport.

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The Opportunity to Get More Done

Most people I know speak poorly of public transport systems (and heck, I was one of them!). There are long delays, crowded services, and when they’re quite expensive to catch, what is there to like about it? Yet my perception of public transport has been flipped: I now love it. I see it as an opportunity; an opportunity to get things done that I wouldn’t normally be able to get done!

To make a living for the past 6 years I have had to drive to the locations where I needed to be. Driving is great—it’s relaxing, I can listen to music, and it’s fast. However, it also means I’m not really productive during this time, and when and hour is spent driving to and from a destination, it really does become a waste of time.

Now I catch public transport to where I need to go. I made the conscious decision to do this as it dawned on me that it is actually the perfect opportunity to get more done.

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Reading is Not Just Reading

Public transport has enabled me to focus my time on some of things I have previously neglected. In previous years, I would read about 2 books a year (if that). Now, we are about 9 weeks into the new year and I have already read 5 books!

Rediscovering my passion for reading has helped motivate me to do more of the things I want to do. I am currently reading Richard Branson’s Let’s Not Screw It, Let’s Just Do It and it’s phenomenal just how motivating a book can be. Just reading this book switches my brain on and gets me to start taking more life-changing action. So, not only am I being more productive on public transport, I’m also seeing longer-term effects stem from it that span into other areas of my life.

Get Your Work Done

…like writing this post. Previously I would write all my articles at home in the comfort of my study. This can tend to have a more relaxing effect on me, where I can also get distracted easy. Now that I am on public transport, I also write my articles here. With time pressures (about 20 minutes to most venues), I think fast and get my fingers working as I try to get through as much as possible. I wrote about 400 words of this post in one 20-minute trip (this article is approximately 600 words long).

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I’ve also found that it’s also a great way to quickly catch up on emails prior to getting to work for the day. Utilising my blackberry, I can quickly and easily bring myself back up to speed prior to the day’s events.

The Added Bonus

I’ve only been taking public transport for about 2 months, but I can say that I’m absolutely loving it. The added bonus is that I am actually saving a significant amount of money by not driving my car (costs for tolls and petrol add up pretty fast!).

This is just the beginning of something great. I can feel it. I hope you can start making the most of the environment around you to become more productive, and I look forward to you joining me in what is going to be an amazing year.

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Brendan

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems.

In this article, you will learn why it isn’t easy to build new habits, and how to change habits.

What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

The Biology

Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

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Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

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Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

The Psychology

Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

1. Identify Your Habits

As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

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2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

3. Apply Logic

You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

4. Choose an Alternative

As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

5. Remove Triggers

Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

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6. Visualize Change

Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

Final Thoughts

Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

More About Changing Habits

Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

Reference

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