Habits

This week’s 5 hour tune is kind of a nod to my earlier days of house music fandom. A simple, steady groove with a focus on building and releasing tension.

4 weeks, 4 tunes. So far my productivity experiment is proving useful.  Although I will say these 5 hour tunes are the only tunes I’ve made in the last month. That’s certainly better than my previous month though so I’ll take it!  Seeing that these tracks and these Sunday posts have become a routine for me, I’ll touch on the power of habit.

Habit: an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary.

Establishing habits is a powerful ally when trying to keep productivity up en route to accomplishing goals. It’s said that up to 45% of our daily actions are habit based. That’s almost half of the day our brain is on autopilot.  It makes sense though, as it takes a lot of energy to make conscious decisions and act upon them.  In an effort to be more efficient, our brains recognize actions we are repeating often and files them into our subconscious so we don’t need to actively think about doing them. Energy conserved!  We can use this behavior to our advantage.

Habits are generally made up of 3 parts: trigger, routine, result. The first step in establishing a new habit is identifying the “trigger”. It’s essentially one action that will lead to another.  For example, I like to write music after I’ve had my morning coffee. So my trigger is drinking coffee (Waking up, taking a shower, and breakfast could be considered triggers and actions too in my routine). I don’t even think about it now. Once I’ve made my coffee, I fire up my DAW and start working on music.  What the actions are or what time of day they happen is not really important. Just that they are always chained together with the routine happening after the trigger. Then to reinforce that chain of events, it is helpful to have a reward or result. My reward has become allowing myself internet time after I’ve completed 2 hours in the studio. Internet time meaning time to check social media, email, fantasy leagues, whatever.  I really try to limit my time on the black hole that can be the internet generally speaking but it serves as a good reward in my routine.  The reward can be anything that hits the pleasure centers of your brain. A food, an activity, etc. The idea is just to reinforce the habit pattern.

Lift.doYour brain needs to be programmed to file things into your subsconscious and it takes time. The beginning is the hardest part. As a first step, I would say just focus on getting through 1 week and see how it goes. 21 days is a time I’ve repeatedly heard as a common milestone for establishing a habit. Some studies show it can take as much as 60 days even.  It’s not easy but the benefits of establishing productive habits are well worth the effort. One more thing I’ll mention is a helpful tool I’ve used in building habits.  It’s an iPhone App call Lift.do (Android too). Check it out here. It gamifies the completion of tasks, more or less. If you are the type of person that enjoys checking off items on a to-do list, you’ll love it. There is also a community component to it that lets you make it social in an effort to motivate and keep you on task. I honestly dont use the social part much but just the act of checking off your daily tasks can be satisfying. It’s also cool to look back on your progress over time via the app. I’ve used it for everything from daily studio practice, IT and web projects, meditation habit, exercise, diet, the list goes on.  It’s free, so why not!?

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