Building Positive New Habits For Productivity And Life

Let's discover how building new habits can support you with boosting your productivity and improving your life on a personal level.

We hear lots of talk about habits and what you need to do to get successful, so I wanted to discuss how you can help build habits into your everyday life, and why it's important to find what works best for you.

Woman in Gray Coat Using White Laptop Computer

Goal & Intention Setting

When you're working towards something – whether it's business / training / personal development; setting clear and achievable goals is essential. It may sound obvious, but honestly, over the years I didn't always set myself goals.

How did this impact me and my progress?

Well as you can imagine, those goals that were a little too vague with no clear pathway, were either much more difficult – or I didn't actually achieve them at all.

Most of these goals have been based around things like losing weight, getting fitter, or more recently wanting to do something different in my business.

But by not having a clear plan and direction, (I don't mean following WW or SW diet plans, but simply not getting specific, and then fully clear on exactly what I needed to do and how) I never quite saw the results I wanted.

In my business, I had so many plans when I first started building my online counselling practice in 2019. But not many of them came to fruition because just as before, I would have an idea, do some things that I thought would be needed, but didn't always follow through.

What changed?

The reason why I began to see real progress and achieve several goals over the past few years, was because each time I decided I wanted to achieve something I made a plan, worked out what I needed to do and then I did the work!

Getting into the habit of planning what needs to get done and how I need to show up whenever I start something new, means that I am setting myself up to tackle the work with confidence and the chances of success are increased.

It can be very easy to jump straight in, fuelled by passion and excitement (hello ND brain..!). But it doesn't usually take long for momentum to stop or confusion to set in without a clear plan and pathway forward.

It was at these points that the risk of procrastination or abandoning ideas were high, especially when faced with the mundane, more difficult tasks.

But when a challenge arose or self doubt kicked in, having a clear plan and intention gave me the confidence I needed to push through the harder times and stick with the project, even when not seeing the results I wanted in the earlier days.

It removed the uncertainty, I could see next steps, and it took away the time wasted trying to decide what to do.

In my business, I launched 3 different revenues to my work, including selling digital products and creating journals. I was able to do this because I had a clear plan, with a clear pathway.

How can this help you build new habits?

If you like me, don't really understand the importance and value of goal or intention setting; because inside you actually already know what you need to do, and you're sure you can get there ‘if I just implement it and get on with it…' I hear you! I have always had this attitude / belief as well.

But as much as I may know how to do it academically, the actual act of doing it – remaining consistent, motivated and focused hasn't always been as easy. And this is where planning will undoubtedly change things when introducing any kind of new habits.

Intention setting also pays attentions to how how you want to feel – what you intend to do and how you will show up. What I love about intention setting, is that it gives you your most powerful mindset tool – your reason why!

When you have a step-by-step guide, showing you exactly what you need to do – it feels and becomes so much easier. The inner confidence to keep moving forward becomes your secret weapon!

My Secret Plan to Rule the World Book

There are lots of different methods you can use for goal setting, including SMART(ER) goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timebound + Evaluate, Readjust). Or techniques like backwards planning so that you start at the end and work out what you need to do by certain points until you arrive back to where you are today. (I love this one as it makes it look so straightforward!).

If you find focusing on bigger goals distracting, you can also choose to set micro goals. Whilst you still have a vague idea of where you want to be, you only focus on smaller steps to lessen overwhelm and reduce the chances of bailing in those often tougher early days.

Introducing new habits like regular planning that supports your productivity will help you keep the momentum going. In fact a study carried out by Dr Gail Matthews at a university in California found that you're 42% more likely to achieve a goal that's written down.

My most useful new habit for productivity was introducing Sunday planning. I began doing this when I first set up my counselling practice. No more starting the week trying to work out what to do next, instead I am fresh and ready to go by 7am on a Monday.

The introduction of new habits like this not only improved my productivity, but also my sleep, stress levels and overall confidence in myself and my abilities.

Habit Formation & Behavioural Change

Habits are key for successfully bringing about change. It's not always exciting when you're in the process of habit formation, but growth happens when you consistently repeat the actions.

If you struggle with this part of it – you may be good for a couple of weeks then boom, your mojo ups and leaves… This is when you'll need to dig a bit deeper, because you're going against what your brain wants you to do. For example getting up when your alarm goes off!

As humans we are creature of habits. Once we have an established habit in place it can become very difficult to stop or change it and often we feel very resistant to it.

Accept that when introducing a new habit, it's going to take a while, because you're creating whole new pathways in your brain.

New Pathways

Take a moment to imagine that you live in a house with a massively large garden that goes on for miles. It has 2 pathways, and there's one you use every single day. It's tended to, easy to walk and you know it well.

But you begin to realise that if you went a different way you'd get to see some beautiful scenery and get to your destination much quicker.

But, this other pathway is overgrown. You can't see the ground beneath the thorns and stinging nettles. The path is bumpy with holes and feels a little dangerous.

It would be SO much easier to just stick to the path that you know wouldn't it?

But, once you begin to walk that path; clearing the brambles, day after day, the ground becomes smoother, it's no longer as overgrown as it was before.

You keep walking that way, loving the benefits that you're already experiencing. You can see much more of the scenery around you, and you're beginning to save some time, despite it still being bumpier and taking more effort than the well trodden pathway was.

But by continuing to walk this path, it gradually becomes more and more accessible and easier to walk. It feels more familiar and comfortable. The other pathway that you no longer walk every day, has started to become overgrown, getting harder to walk and feels less safe than before.

What this analogy shows is that introducing a new habit isn't going to feel easy at first as it's new. Your brain is used to functioning how it is. You're used to doing things in a certain way, so even though a habit that you want to introduce will undoubtedly change your life for the better, it still feels hard!

Photograph of Flowers with Green Leaves Near a Path

There are a couple of things you can do to make this process a little easier. The first one is one that I started to use after listening to another one of the brilliant Mel Robbins‘ podcasts a couple of years ago, is Habit Stacking.

Habit stacking is where you attach the new habit that you want to introduce to a habit that's already established. This helps by making the new habit easier to embed into your daily life.

I began this with the High Five Habit. Every single morning you need to look at yourself in the mirroe and high five yourself.

You can tell yourself “I love you” or you can high five yourself by touching the mirror, and tell yourself “I'm proud of you!” looking straight into your eyes. If you're cringing don't worry – I did too, but now the smile I see in my reflection is genuine and it feels comfortable!

Mel suggested attaching this to a habit most of us already do every single day – for example cleaning your teeth! It's perfect because you're probably looking at your reflection when you're doing it anyway.

I very rarely miss doing this now. It's 100% part of my morning routine and it's such a great way to reinforce self love and gratitude. Sometimes I do my gratitude list at the same time either in my mind or spoken.

If you're someone who wants to change things up – perhaps you've never been a morning person, but you really want to start your day earlier so you can sit and journal as the sun rises. Or, you want to get out for a walk every day but your current habits are so ingrained and strong, you never quite begin.

If you want to journal daily – do it when you sit for coffee or eat breakfast. If you want to go for a walk, put your headphones in and listen to some training or a podcast.

Pro tip – prepare the night before for your new habits and routines. If you want to go to the gym or get outside for that walk, set your gear out the night before. If you want to start journaling everyday – get it out and ready. Place it next to your coffee cup so you don't have to think about looking for it!

By doing these things the night before, you're making it much easier to walk that new pathway. It's why I like planning on a Sunday and recapping each evening, instead of planning in the morning – especially if I know I have to do some things I'm not overly excited about!

What things could you stack new habits to?

Time & Energy Management

Learning how to manage your time and energy is a great way to increase your productivity. No, this doesn't mean you have to have every single minute mapped out for your entire day (I would run away screaming and probably procrastinate all day).

Using time and energy management will help you work to the best of your ability throughout the day and week. For example, if you know that you work better in the mornings, establish your morning routine to get the most out of the time you have.

Use time blocking techniques where you have focus sessions and breaks throughout the morning when you're focused on your higher energy / most important tasks.

In the afternoons, you can take the foot off the pedal a little and focus on tasks that require less energy and concentration.

These new habits and ways of working have worked wonders for me. As I'm sat writing this at 8am on a Monday morning, I have my 60 minute timer on, my phone is on Do-Not-Disturb, and once the 60 mins buzzer goes off I'll take a quick break then set it for another hour to finish the other bits.

The amount of time this habit has saved me is probably around 3 or 4 hours in total. When I'm working to a specific time I can get shit done. When I have the whole day ahead of me – it will get done – but by when who knows?!

Discover your patterns, learn when you work better, and use this to understand when you'll be able to get more focused work done. Once you know this, plan your day around it and create your own new habits to support this way of working.

Morning Routine: Mindfulness & Gratitude

Your morning routine can become a powerful tool in creating these new habits that will help you bring about the change you're working towards.

If you hear about morning routines a lot and dismiss the concept as an additional stress that you don't do or want to do – I get it. There's a lot of talk about it all the time and can often seem like it's an insta-life kind of thing. But the truth is, you do have a morning routine anyway – you just don't call it that!

Think about your regular mornings. Do you have an alarm and get up at a certain time? Do you get a glass of water or coffee at a certain point? Do you then begin to get ready for the day; clean teeth, brush hair, dress, or something along those lines?

That's your current morning routine! It's about solidifying what you do so that you can also do the things you'd like to do as well.

Introducing a new morning routine doesn't have to be an hour or 3 hours long (although if that's what you can and want to do then go for it!). Your morning and evening routine can be merged with what you're already doing. In fact this is habit stacking and it's a good thing to do!

For example:

Journaling – Do this whilst drinking coffee. If you're too busy with the children, can you wake up just 10 minutes earlier? Or, instead of writing, you could do a voice note journal as you're clearing away or getting dressed.

Gratitude & MIndfulness – You don't need to sit in a ‘formal' meditating position to experience mindfulness. It's a state of mind – it's about being still for a little while and quieting any thoughts you may have.

As with journaling, this could be done as you're walking somewhere. Instead of listening to something as you walk, tune into the sounds around you and let your thoughts just pass you by.

And with gratitude – you can do in the mirror as you do your daily high five!

Remember: New habits don't need to be massive statements or changes!

Accountability & Progress Tracking

Accountability has been the biggest motivator for me in making the progress that I want. Working with someone for weight loss as well as joining a membership where I get accountability daily for my business and blog growth is a great motivator!

Why does accountability work?

When you're presenting your goals and intentions to others, and then reporting back to someone else what you have done that day or week to work towards your goals, there's a desire to be able to tell them you've done what you said you would.

Yes, it's harder to keep tracking and staying accountable when you're not seeing the progress, but when you do, you get to see the whole story. You get to see peaks and troughs and understand what could be influencing you at different times. Introducing these new habits has helped me make significant progress this past year.

It's a great way to see what's working well, what isn't working and making changes in the moment to help you stay on track. If for example you only do a quarterly check, you may discover that something from the first few weeks needed tweaking, and had potentially cost you time.

I've also found that tracking progress, whether personal or professional habits and goals, my success rate increased and I remained motivated and focused on the things that I needed to do, with less time wasted overall.

Remember, humans love rewards, so introducing tracking as one of your new habits will increase small wins and keep that motivation high!

Final Thoughts

Setting clear goals and intentions when you want to introduce new habits will help you stay on track with your goals, increasing confidence and productivity through having clear steps to follow.

Forming new habits isn't easy and you may feel some resistance as your brain like to keep things as they are! A new habit is like forming a brand new pathway that's overgrown, but as you continue to walk the new path (repeat the actions), it will gradually become habitual – an action that you do automatically.

Habit stacking can help with this because you're attaching these new habits with an established one like cleaning your teeth in the morning. Other ways you can make it easier is by preparing the night before. This is a great hack and has worked for me often!

However you manage your morning routine, making a few little tweaks is a gentle way to encourage the formation of these new habits.

Not forgetting time and energy management and how these can help you become more efficient whilst also encouraging you to work in a way that suits you and your needs. As well as the benefit of tracking your progress so that you can see those subtle changes happening in real time.

I hope this post helped you think about how you will use new habits in your life as well – I'd love to hear your thoughts!

If this post helped or you enjoyed reading it, please share one of the images below as it really helps my blog – Thank You!

A journal with lovely pink flowers next to it, it's leather with a pen laid across it. It feels luxurious & comforting.
A woman sat in a yoga pose smiling at the camera. The text "iscover the Secrets to Habit Formation & Behaviour Change" in front on a faded cream background
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Meet Lynsey

Lynsey Wall, Coach & Mentor at Coach Writes. About me - A headshot of Lynsey smiling. Wearing a black t-shirt, blue framed glasses. Office walls behind her.

Hey there! I'm Lynsey, a coach, counsellor, and mentor for low energy, introverted or low confident female coaches & small business owners. With over 5 years’ experience of running businesses, and over a decade as a tutor and trainer, I've learned the value of effective time management that energises you through working with your energy.

I've lived with chronic illness – ME/CFS since 2011 and since then I re-trained as a counsellor, and achieved a distinction for my MA in Counselling and Psychotherapy Practice; all while running 4 businesses! I want that for you as well & it is possible with the right support and pathway to success.

Improving your mindset, finding acceptance and developing a solution-focused approach to achieving your goals is my passion. Blending mental health support where needed, as well as a supportive space and methods to manage your work more effectively.

If you'd like to know more about working with me, you can email [email protected] or find me on socials (links in the menu)

Have you seen my online store Your Coach Tools? Find DFY templates & more!

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