Takeaway: Experimentation is the best (and only) way to learn what habits make you more productive.
The godfather of behavior change apps Buster Benson learned a lot when building quantified self startups like 43 Things, Health Month and 750 Words. He discovered his most productive habit, writing, by trying new habits until he found the productivity hack that worked best for him.
Pay attention to the actions you take during the day to find out what habits make you more or less effective. Buster tracks everything: emails, tweets, photos, meals, exercise, meditation, mood levels, words, etc. He’s still trying out new habits like meditation and running, too. You don’t have track habits as intensely as Buster, but you could learn a lot about what makes you more productive by experimenting with new routines and reflecting on the results.
All of my favorite daily habits include letting some unfiltered stream-of-consciousness to the surface. Walking to and from work, meditating, and taking a picture at 8:36pm all fit this pattern. However, the most valuable of these unfiltered streams has been my habit of writing 3 pages of unfiltered, stream-of-consciousness, brain-dump *BLAH* on 750words.com.
The actual words rarely matter, it’s all about getting them out. It’s the best way I currently know that consistently helps me untangle something that’s bothering me, solve problems that I can’t quite articulate, or get something out of my system so I can move on. I always feel noticeably lighter after writing 750 words.
More productivity tips from entrepreneurs:
Evan Williams: Workout When You’re Least Productive
Erin McKean: Schedule Easy, Small Tasks as Work Breaks
Loïc Le Meur: Meditate – It’s the Productivity Trick People Are Afraid to Talk About
Chris Messina: Build Tiny Habits: They Can Be Surprisingly Powerful
Joel Gascoigne: Optimize Your Daily Routines
Marshall Kirkpatrick: Hack the Science of Behavior Change
There is one thing that all of these entrepreneurs have in common: they’ve all built habits using Lift.