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Habits

I posted something about this the other day, but I think it’s worth talking some more about patterns and habits. Sometimes they are so ingrained in how we think about ourselves, we assume that it’s something that can’t be changed or an inherited trait that runs in our families. And although it’s sometimes hard to change these habits, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible, or that we shouldn’t change them if they aren’t serving us anymore.


I used this for an example the other day but it’s worth exploring a bit more now. I’ve always thought of myself as a night owl and usually stayed up later than everyone else. When I had the choice, I would work a later shift and when I didn’t, I would moan about how early I had to get up. I got into the habit of staying up late most of the week then one day I would go to bed really early (like about 19:30), have a great sleep and wake up feeling refreshed. I hadn’t worked out that if I balanced it out over the week, I could feel ok every day. Instead, I just kept insisting that I was a night owl and that I couldn’t possibly go to bed early and wake up early.


When I decided I wanted to exercise more, I struggled to fit it in. When I finished work, I just wanted to get home and make my dinner. After dinner, I just wanted to sit and watch TV or do something easy. I realised that to make my life easier, I needed to exercise in the morning. Well how was I supposed to do that? Get up early? No thanks, I’m not a morning person. I went swimming a couple of times in the morning and it was hard work. I then tried an after work session and that was AWFUL. It was noisy, there were loads of children around, the changing rooms were an absolute mess and it was difficult to actually do some proper swimming.


So I went back to the mornings and I decided to go a couple of times a week. I also got sick of resetting my alarm in between days so I decided to get up early on those other days. Going in to work early was a revelation! It was so quiet I could get some work done without the phone ringing or someone coming to talk to me. I also found that, actually, I’m really quite productive first thing in the morning. Exercising seemed to galvanise that productivity too and made me way more positive for the rest of the day.


Now, my alarm is set for 05:30 on weekdays and I usually wake up around 07:00 at the weekend. It is incredible how much I usually get done in the first 2 hours of my days now. Whether that’s going for a walk, swimming, getting some work done, dealing with problems or just cleaning. So much more gets done in the morning than in the afternoon. I do go to bed quite early now and when I don’t, I really notice the difference in my productivity levels.


Back to the point about habits. Sometimes it’s easy to change a habit and sometimes it’s a lot harder than we think. Keeping ourselves on track can be difficult and having someone to keep you accountable, or someone to bounce ideas off can really help. Sometimes even saying things out loud (even to yourself) can make all the difference.


For this week, take a look at what you do and how you do things. Could you be more productive? Would doing something slightly differently make a world of difference? Why don’t you try it differently for a week?


Have good week x


PS That is not me swimming in the picture 😊

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