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Aditi Sharma for Peerlist

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How to build a habit system and stay motivated as a professional?

Two years ago, I was struggling with health problems meant I needed to exercise, move, to do something for my body but I couldn’t. I failed multiple times during that period. Every time I started, I was excited but it faded in a day or two. After analyzing the 4 months pattern I realized a few things such as:

  • I was targeting the highest goal in the least duration.
  • I was not enjoying the workout.
  • I was blindly following other people.

And once I could pinpoint the problems, I found the solutions as well.

What I did:

  • I gave myself monthly goals & broke them down into weekly goals, then daily goals: my daily goals involved showing up on time & working out for at least an hour.
  • I mixed a few different workouts, on some days, I’d go for a run, some days I would do power yoga, some days were about abs workout, and some days I’d just do the sleep meditation - I was enjoying & excited for the next day.
  • I understood my body is different from others and experimented with a few different routines before I found the perfect fit for myself. I can’t do a lot of cardio workouts, but I can do a good amount of abs workouts.

Before you all think, it’s an ‘exercise daily’ blog, let’s come back to the topic and understand how can you build a healthy habit system.

How can you build a habit system?

If you are a reader, then you must have read (or at least heard) about the book - Atomic Habits. It’s a self-help read and yes, nothing is going to work if you don’t take action but it’s one of the finest books I have listened to (audiobooks come in handy if you can’t prioritize reading for some reason).

A habit system is nothing but one detailed summary of your daily tasks with an actionable plan.

I use the following strategy to make my habit system -

  1. Starting with a small habit - Taking the first step like making 10 minutes for coding every day without any fail.

  2. Increasing habit in very small ways - Then, increase that 10 minutes to 15 minutes, so it doesn’t start feeling like a burden.

  3. Breaking tasks into small chunks - Even after increasing the habit in small ways, it can feel a burden, so make sure to make it reasonable. For example, code for 15 minutes twice a day rather than sitting for 30 minutes in one stretch.

  4. Never miss twice - This is an important one, making habits is a slippery slope, once you slip, it’s almost like you are back to square one. So, even if you take one day break, get back to your habit again.

  5. Be patient - This is a basic rule of life. Aim for the highest but be patient to reach there. You can’t climb Mt. Everest in a day, it has its fixed minimum duration & external factors affect how long you would take to reach the summit.

Now that you know what you need to follow for having a strong habit system, let’s see how can you stay motivated.

How to stay motivated?

Most of us go through this problem on daily basis. Monday hits us with a gloomy feeling. We waste Sundays while stressing over Mondays.

The concept of doing certain tasks after getting motivation is logically flawed. Action leads to Motivation. It’s the first step you need to take to get motivated. Once you take action, you automatically get motivated to do more and the cycle repeats.

Make “Think big, but start small” your mantra, and getting things done will be easier. Taking the first step will be easier if you make it as easy as possible. Prepare for the action in advance, and remove the obstacles when you are excited to start.

Now that you know what you need to do to stay motivated - take action. Let’s see what habits as a professional you should have and make a system around.

(Habit System + Motivation) X Professional

As a professional, you need to build a system around a few habits to be efficient and productive. Let’s learn what those habits are.

  1. Stay organized: A tidy workspace gives a mindset to stay focused and work more. Decluttering your workspace can be one good action that can lead to getting motivation for work.

  2. Set goals with a plan of action: So rather than giving yourself a vague goal, make it specific. Make an actionable plan, and include it in your routine with a fixed time, so that it doesn’t look like something you want to do but becomes something you are doing.

  3. Take initiative: If you work in a team, taking initiative will be fruitful for you as an individual and even for team growth. You will likely become a self-starter as well when you stop waiting for others.

  4. Practice good time management: Learn how to prioritize tasks, and use time-saving techniques, such as batching.

  5. Cultivate a growth mindset: It means you are always willing to learn and grow. You are up for improving yourself at any given chance. You inspire others to do the same as well.

  6. Be persistent and don’t give up: If you face any obstacle, don’t let it discourage you. Quit whenever needed but do not give up on the growth mindset - learn and grow continuously.

  7. Take breaks: To have a healthy habit system means having a particular period of break included in the plan. A few minutes of break between the tasks help you focus more.

Bonus #1

  • Do a biweekly check on your habits, and make sure the only good parts of habits get automated.
  • Try to do tasks intentionally, rather than out of habit. Yes, it will take time, but it will also keep you motivated for a longer period.

Top comments (1)

fairolesia profile image
Olesia_Fair • Edited

Great productivity post.
My tips:
Start an issue tracker. Any time you have an idea for a feature or find a big to fix, add it to the backlog. When you have time to work in your project, you can just grab an issue and pick up where you left off.

Start a projects planner. Log your progress and thoughts. Try to write to the planner with some regularity. It is to motivate you to keep developing your work.