Habits or custom: whatever you call it, it sounds boring at first. Who wants to be called a man of habit, a victim of the often-cited power of habit? Your habits and actions that you carry out practically automatically can be a powerful help for your productive life. Like bad habits pull you down.

You are probably already letting the automatism "habit" work in your favor somewhere. Or do you transfer your rent or the salaries of your employees manually? I guess you set up standing orders there. A habit works just like a standing order for your account: It relieves you of decisions and relieves you. 

Why Habits work for you 

Just imagine that you have to decide for every action of your day actively: Should I start the coffee machine? Do I have to feed my dog? And is it necessary to take a first look at my Kanban board before I begin my work? 

Here, your conscious thinking would have to start every time and make a decision. This costs your brain energy that it could use better for creativity and stress management.  

Once one of these activities that you need every day becomes a habit, it happens automatically in a different part of your brain. You have your head free for everything that takes you further. 

Develop routines 

Unfortunately, this takes a while and costs your determination and energy at first. Good habits don't come about by themselves. You have to give them a hand. An action that should become a habit consists of four elements: 

A trigger that points you to the matter: Let's say, Do your most important work first thing when you check your tasks in the morning. In this case, you would call an important customer and ask for an offer. This is to become the next big order. 

The desire to implement it: Unfortunately, it does not come by itself because the reward (the order and the money that it will bring in) is still a long way off. So better promise yourself a second small reward, something that you will get right after you make the call. It can be very simple: You can then tick off the program item in your to-do list (or, if you organize yourself differently, move the Kanban card to Done, draw a cross over the task in your bullet journal). Or you will only get your first office coffee then and have earned it. 

The actual action should be effortless to carry out: you swallow the toad and call the customer first thing in the morning. So! 

And a reward that motivates you: Then you can get your reward and pat yourself on the shoulder. What the day brings today is nothing compared to what you have already done. 

Now, you need a little patience so that your action becomes a habit. Opinions on this vary between 30 and 60 days. Suppose you stick with it and really pick out your most important task every morning and implement it immediately. In that case, you will develop a habit that will work for you afterward—a standing order for your self-management. Your brain is relieved, and you feel good because you have worked productively.

How do you get rid of bad habits? 

First of all, bad habits are not bad per se, only because they get in the way of you. They interfere with achieving your goals and being the person you want to be. There is a strategy for this, too: If you're going to get rid of a bad habit, you set the weights of the four steps differently: 

hide the shutter release, make it invisible (so no TV in the bedroom if you like to watch series in the evening and no longer want to) 

make sure that the desire to take action is not attractive (because you have to get up to watch TV and go to the living room or, better, to the basement) 

also, make sure that the action is challenging to carry out (the TV must first be connected, and the remote control must be filled with batteries) 

and let the reward be unsatisfactory (bad feeling because it's so uncomfortable in the basement)