When building a habit, never breaking the chain is a strong motivator for many people. Building good habits can compound to tremendous advances in personal growth over time. Consistency makes all the difference in habit building to achieve strong productivity streaks.
Nevertheless, it can be very difficult to keep a habit alive in certain situations. The start of a big project can take up almost all your resources. Familiy issues or conflicts at work can hinder you from catering to your personal development the way you wish. Especially in these difficult situations, some basic principles and behaviors can help you to stay on track and not break the chain of building your desired habits.
Start building your habit right in the morning
If you want to build a new behavior into a habit, make it your top priority right in the beginning of the day. It’s pretty simple: If you place your habit first thing in the morning, you simply have no possibility to skip it anymore. It helps your productivity streaks to last. This works great for forming habits you can do on your own and relatively independent from a certain space. Examples are writing, reading, workouts, studying or meditation.
However, there are habits you want to keep doing in an ongoing chain but that are hard to implement in the morning. Also, there are these days, where mornings just do not work out as planned. You sleep in too long and are stressed to get to work. Your kids get up an hour earlier than usual and claim your full attention. You might get ill. The reasons are numerous. In these cases try to employ one of the following tactics.
Do at least a very little bit
Doing at least a very little bit is better than doing nothing. Everytime, you do something you cast a vote for yourself and for your habit. Even if you want to meditate or workout for 30 minutes a day: 5 minutes are better than nothing. The same goes for writing: It’s better writing one paragraph than none – even if you aim for three pages a day. Remember: Building habits is about consistency. You build a habit one step at a time.
Talk to others about your habit building if they put conflicting demands on you
Everybody has responsibilities to others. These can come into conflict with your own personal development goals. Demands from familiy, employees, colleagues or customers are important to you. That’s self-evident, completely natural and ok. Sometimes, these duties might conflict with keeping your productivity streak going and keeping your habit alive. This is challenging. You do not want to disappoint people who are important to you. But at the same time, you want to fulfill your commitments towards yourself.
To get out of this: Talk to the others. Most people will be understanding that you have several goals in your life. Many will even want to support you. People you love and value usually feel similar for you. They might step down from some demands and even help you free up time for your personal development and habit creation.
Schedule building your habit as a deliberate break from your big projects and daily work
In times of high workloads, building a habit is easily pushed back. Keeping your productivity streak alive will just not be the most urgent task on your agenda. If you can’t cater for them right at the beginning of your day, schedule them in. Use calender blocking for maximum commitment and for safeguarding some time for keeping your streak. In many cases, your habit can even be a deliberate break from your other tasks. It can give you a time-out and refresh your energy.
Make your habit visible
If you want to keep a habit, make sure to be reminded of it automatically. You can use physical reminders. Have something which reminds you of your habit right in your desk or at a place you pass regularly.
You can also use a tickler file as your reminder. A note in your tickler file can be a great reminder. Put all your habits-to-be in today’s folder. As soon as your done with your habit forming activity, the note moves to the next day. But as long as you haven’t, it will stay in today’s folder and serves as a constant reminder of what still needs to be done.
Get back on track as soon as possible
However long your productivity streak is. At some point, you will slip. Do not be too hard to yourself. Skipping a habit happens to everybody. Celebrate the chain you achieved. Maybe it was a personal record. You just set a new goal for yourself. Try to get back into your rhythm as soon as possible. The quicker you get back on track, the easier it will be to keep your habit alive and stay productive.