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Last Updated on June 28, 2018

How I Learned 5 Habits in 30 Days

How I Learned 5 Habits in 30 Days

If you have been reading about personal productivity on the Internet, I’m sure you’ve read plenty of articles on how to build a new habit. One of the common pieces of advice is to work on one habit at a time until it sticks and then move on to the next one. If you try to focus on too many at a time, you will have a high chance of failure.

I’m here to say that is not true.

I found a hack that allows you to learn multiple habits at a time. It allowed me to learn 5 habits in 30 days and I’m going to show you how you can do the same thing.

The flaw in the approach of one habit per period (usually it’s a month) is that the presupposition is that all habits are created equal. This is not the case — because not all habits take the same amount of effort to make them stick. There are a lot of habits that I would say require the commitment of learning one at a time, but what I found is that a lot of habits can be learned at the same time.

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The 5 Habits

I discovered by accident that you can build multiple habits at a time. As I was trying to figure out how to build more habits, I thought one habit per month was too slow for me. So I started to question the common advice out there and look at it from different angles. That’s when I found that the presupposition was flawed and I used this as a starting point to hack the habit learning process.

Here are the 5 habits I made to stick at the same time in 30 days (they are in no particular order):

  • Flossing every morning.
  • Reading a book before going to bed.
  • Drinking green tea once a day.
  • Taking my supplements in the morning.
  • Stretching my body as soon as I get out of bed.

Here is the flaw in the “one-habit-at-a-time approach” and the question that triggered my discovery.

If I want to floss every morning, why can’t I focus on the habit of drinking green tea once a day that might kick in later in the day? I asked myself this question and pondered it for a while. By mere logic, it doesn’t make any sense to focus on one habit at a time if the two habits aren’t related and are not dependent on each other. I can floss my teeth at 8am and drink green tea every day at 2pm. Why would I then focus on just one habit at a time?

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Like I said earlier, not all habits are created equal. Some take more effort to build because of their nature. The list of habits I wanted to work on don’t require continuous focus. Example of such habits that require continuous focus include positive thinking, eating healthy, becoming a better listener and practicing gratitude. For such habits you always have to be on the lookout because you don’t know when you can expect them to be practiced — and most of them have an external component you cannot directly control.

Let’s take the example of positive thinking. You can start your day with positive affirmations, but what do you do when a negative thought comes up later in the day? It’s not something you can predict to happen (nor expect it to happen) at a certain time of the day. When a negative thought does come up, you have to reframe it right away and this can happen numerous times a day. As you can see, such habits require a lot of focus and practice. For those habits — yes, go with the one-habit-at-a-time approach.

However, there are a lot of habits that do no require this much focus and practice.

These are habits that you can only work on when you are int the right location — and at the right time. By their nature you have a lot of control over them when you want to exercise them and I call them “controller habits”. These are the ones you can make habitual very fast with two simple technique that will I reveal. By applying these simple techniques I was able to learn five habits in a month without any problems.

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Pinging and sticky notes

The “life hacker” way of learning these controller habits involves pings and sticky notes. Like I said before, for certain habits you just need to work on them when you are in the right place and at the right time. A ping is sending yourself a reminder about the habit you want to work on. This is a process you want to automate so you don’t rely on your memory. Examples of how you can ping yourself is by setting reminders, automated emails to yourself, and text messages. These little pings will happen at a specific time and will remind you that you have to enforce the habit you want to learn.

As an example of a ping, I set calendar reminders for every day at 2pm to drink green tea. If you have your phone synced up with your desktop through the cloud (like with iCloud, MobileMe and the like), calendar reminders are awesome. You can setup the reminders on your desktop (make sure there are popup notifications set) and each time a reminder is due you will get notified on your desktop and mobile phone. That way you will not lose sight of the habit you want to work on. Whenever you read the ping is when you have to take action to cultivate your desired habit. Remember to do it right after you read the ping.

The second technique requires a simple prop: sticky notes. For each habit you want to cultivate, write down on a sticky note the action you need to take. For example, “floss your teeth” or “take your supplements” would suffice.

Now this is the essential part of making the sticky notes work. Place them visibly at the location where you need to exercise the habit. This is really crucial. This acts like a reminder for you to build your habit. When I wanted to build the habit of flossing every morning, I wrote down “Floss my teeth” and I posted the note on the bathroom door. This meant that each morning when I went into the bathroom, I would see this note that reminded me to floss my teeth. Likewise for my daily supplements, I posted the note in the kitchen on the cabinet where I stored my supplements. Every morning when I was in the kitchen it would help me remind me that I need to take my daily supplements.

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There is another benefit to these pings and sticky notes. Not only do they remind you of working on your habits but they will also help in getting those habits “burned” into your subconscious. The more you see it, the stronger it will be in your subconscious. Each time I go to my bathroom, I read the note about flossing my teeth — but I don’t have to exercise it each time. However, because I’m reminded of it all the time it becomes almost second nature to me — I now know that I have to floss my teeth in the morning. Repetition is not only the mother of learning, but also the father of getting something stuck in your subconscious.

One Last Thing

If you combine both the pings and sticky notes you can learn a lot of habits at the same time. To round it up, here’s how I used the pings and sticky notes to build those five habits:

  • Flossing – sticky note on my bathroom door.
  • Reading – ping at 10pm and sticky note in my bedroom.
  • Green tea – ping at 2pm and sticky note in my kitchen.
  • Supplements – ping at 8am and sticky note in my kitchen.
  • Stretching – sticky note in my bedroom I would see first thing as soon as I wake and stand up.

If you can chain multiple habits, you will create very effective rituals — or “super habits” as I often call them.

What 5 habits can you learn in 30 days? Let me know in the comments — and hopefully with this advice you’ll be able to make all 5 of them stick!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Memorize More and Faster Than Other People

How to Memorize More and Faster Than Other People

People like to joke that the only thing you really “learn” in school is how to memorize. As it turns out, that’s not even the case for most of us. If you go around the room and ask a handful of people how to memorize things quickly and how to remember things, most of them will probably tell you repetition.

That is so far from the truth, it’s running for office. If you want to memorize something quickly and thoroughly, repetition won’t cut it; however, recalling something will. The problem is that recalling something requires learning and we all learn in different ways.

So how to memorize more and faster than others?

In this article, you will learn how to master the art of recalling so that you can start memorizing a ton of data in a short amount of time.

Before you start, know your learning style

Before we start, you need to establish something: are you an auditory, visual, or experiential learner?

If you’re an auditory learner, then the most effective way for you to grasp information is by hearing it. As you can imagine, visual learners favor seeing something in order to learn it. Experiential learning types are more akin to learning from events and experiences (or, doing something with the material).

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Try out this quick quiz to find out your learning style.

Most of us are a combination of at least two of these categories but I will denote which step is most favorable to your most agreeable learning style so that you can start to memorize things quickly and efficiently.

Step 1: Preparation

To optimize your memorization session, pay close attention to which environment you choose. For most people, this means choosing an area with few distractions, though some people do thrive off of learning in public areas. Figure out what is most conducive to your learning so that you can get started.

Next, start drinking some tea. I could link you to mounds of scientific studies that confirm green tea as a natural catalyst for improving memory. Mechanically speaking, our ability to recall information comes down to the strength between neurons in our mind, which are connected by synapses. The more you exercise the synapse (repetition), the stronger it is, resulting in the ability to memorize.

As we get older, toxic chemicals will damage our neurons and synapses, leading to memory loss and even Alzheimer’s. Green tea contains compounds, however, that block this toxicity and keep your brain cells working properly a lot longer.

Step 2: Record what you’re memorizing

This is especially useful if you’re trying to memorize information from a lecture. Use a tape recorder to track all of the acquired facts being spoken and listen to it.

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If you’re trying to memorize a speech, record yourself reading the speech aloud and listen to yourself speaking. Obviously, this is most helpful for auditory learners, but it’s also handy because it ensures that you’re getting more context from a lecture that will help you learn the information faster.

Step 3: Write everything down

Before you start trying to recall everything from memory, write and re-write the information. This will help you become more familiar with what you’re trying to memorize.

Doing this while listening to your tape recorder can also help you retain a lot of the data. This is most useful for experienced learners.

Step 4: Section your notes

Now that you have everything written down in one set of notes, separate them into sections. This is ideal for visual learners, especially if you use color coding to differentiate between subjects.

This will help you break everything down and start compartmentalizing the information being recorded in your brain.

Step 5: Apply repetition to cumulative memorization

For each line of text, repeat it a few times and try to recall it without looking. As you memorize each set of text, be cumulative by adding the new information to what you’ve just learned. This will keep everything within your short-term memory from fading.

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Keep doing this until you have memorized that section and you are able to recall the entire thing. Do not move on to another section until you have memorized that one completely. This is mostly visual learning but if you are speaking aloud, then you are also applying auditory.

Step 6: Write it down from memory

Now that you can recall entire sections, write everything down from memory. This will reinforce everything you just have just learned by applying it experientially.

Step 7: Teach it to someone (or yourself)

The most effective method for me when I was in school was to teach the information to someone else. You can do this in a variety of ways. You can lecture the knowledge to someone sitting right in front of you (or the mirror, if you can’t convince anyone to sit through it) and explain everything extemporaneously.

If what you’ve learned needs to be recited verbatim, then do this in front of someone as well in order to get a feel for what it will be like to recite the text to the intended audience.

My favorite method for this is creating tests for other people. Take the information and predict what questions will come out of them. Use multiple choice, matching and so on to present the data in test format and see how someone else does.

All of this is experiential learning since you are actually practicing and manipulating the concepts you’ve learned.

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Step 8: Listen to the recordings continuously

While doing unrelated tasks like laundry or driving, go over the information again by listening to your tape recordings. This is certainly auditory learning but it will still supplement everything you’ve shoved into your short-term memory.

Step 9: Take a break

Finally, let your mind breathe. Go for a short time without thinking about what you just learned and come back to it later on.

You’ll find out what you really know and this will help you focus on the sections you might be weakest at.

Try these steps now and you will find remembering things a lot easier and you’ll memorize more stuff than a lot of other people!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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