I’ve been working out for about a year and a half.  When asked “How often?”, I usually respond “2-3 days a week.”  What’s my goal? 3 days a week. How often do I meet that goal? Infrequently. Why? Because I haven’t made this a habit.

Over the years I have started many “new habits” only to realize a week or so later that I’m not consistently doing what I intended to be doing. The failure to maintain the habit is usually surrounded by excuses of scheduling conflicts, being too busy, not at the right place at the right time, don’t have the materials I need, forgetting, and so on. It doesn’t take long for those good intentions to completely dissolve into the past.

So, what’s a good intentioned person to do? Here’s some guidance from a new book I just finished reading – Power of Less by Leo Babauta of zenhabits.net fame. Leo’s book is very accessible and enjoyable to read. For us GTDers it provides another perspective that extends the GTD system into our lives and actually improves upon it with a focus on simplicity.

Forming new habits is difficult, no question. Follow these steps to help make yourself more successful:

  1. Select one habit at a time – work on one new habit per month. This creates Commitment. Leo is very clear in that when working on new habits you should choose to work on only 1 at a time. Also, choose an easy goal to start with. Once you get good at new habit forming you can pick more difficult habits.
  2. Write down your plan – be real specific in what your goal will be each day, when you’ll do it, what event will trigger it (i.e. exercise right before lunch), and who you will report to (see #4)
  3. Post your goal publicly – tell as many people as you feel comfortable about your goal.
  4. Report on your progress daily – let those people to which you reported your goal how you are doing. This creates Accountability and Encouragement.
  5. Celebrate your new habit – after thirty days you will have a new habit. You still need to keep doing what you committed to doing, but it will be part of your daily routine.

Does it work?  Yeah…it does. I used this approach to lose weight. Combined with new eating habits from Weight Watchers I was able to shed over 20lbs\9kg. I wrote down my goal. Wrote down what I ate every day. Reported to a close group (my family) and celebrated each success!

If you’ve been to a GTD class or read the book it is asking you to do a number of new things that may not have been part of your daily\weekly\monthly routine before. A great way to start out is to choose one of those things (i.e. carry around a ubiquitous capture device and write down thoughts as they come up) and use the above technique to make it a new habit. Good luck and let us know how you make out!