Hack the Science of Behavior Change: Productivity Tip from Marshall Kirkpatrick

Takeaway: If you know the first principles of behavior change, you’ll have the knowledge (aka superpower) to change or build any habit. 


Marshall Kirkpatrick, founder and CEO of Littlebird, went further than most people do when building habits: he learned the science behind how our body and brain create new behaviors. He picked up some of his techniques from the work of Dr. BJ Fogg, renowned behavior change guru and Head of the Persuasive Technology Lab.

If you learn the scientific principles that drive your behavior (no one is immune), you, too, can hack your way to increased productivity. Here’s a crash course from Fogg’s research: behavior is the result of having enough motivation and ability to perform an action at the time that you’re triggered to do it. So find ways to increase your motivation (rewards or support from friends), ability (make smaller goals). Don’t forget to set up triggers and reminders, too.

I learned from Dr. BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habits program that a  good approach to picking up new habits is to 1) make them small 2) tie them to an anchor habit you’ve already got (you’re old habit becomes a trigger) and 3) celebrate when you do them.

So every morning after I make coffee, I get out my vitamins, then I open up the Harvard Business Review mobile app and read their Management Tip of the Day, then I check off those two habits on Lift.  Then I open up my mobile flashcard app and use frequent recall to assimilate the lessons I’m learning in life (like BJ Fogg’s 3 steps to picking up new habits) while I stretch in my living room and drink coffee. Then I check off flashcards and stretching.

I’ve gotten much better at taking vitamins (which I refer to in my head as Self Optimization Pills), I’m learning a bunch of great management tips and I’m assimilating my learning into my brain and life for the long term. Lift is helpful because it removes the mental overhead of remembering to do those things. I don’t need to remember, I just look at my checklist and do what it says.

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
Buster Benson: Experiment with New Habits Regularly

There is one thing that all of these entrepreneurs have in common: they’ve all built habits using Lift. 

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