One of the easiest ways to make good habits stick is by altering your environment in a way that makes them more conducive, or by making the old bad habit they are trying to replace harder. This is one of the reasons why people can lose so much weight on shows like the biggest loser, or at a fat camp, they are in a completely new environment. The problem of course is that when they go home all their old triggers and vices are still there so old bad habits often reappear, it is therefore better to change your regular environment in order to attain long lasting change.
There are a couple of different ways you can change your environment. I have written previously about support habits: if you want to eat more home cooked meals so you can eat a healthier diet it is important to develop the lesser habit of washing dishes regularly and keeping your kitchen clean. Many support habits work by making your environment friendlier to the behavior you want to encourage, you just have to do it every day. Other examples could include: putting out your running gear at night so it’s easier in the morning, keeping your fridge well stocked with veggies, or leaving your phone out of reach at night. These still take time to develop since they are still behaviours you have to cultivate, albeit relatively easy ones.
Another kind of environmental change can take a lot of effort up front, but can often create instant habits! This would include changes such as switching your bedside light to a red light bulb, once you have purchased it and screwed it in it becomes automatic; you would have to change the bulb back each night if you didn’t want it. You can also create impediments to bad habits, if you keep a stash of snacks in your desk at work you probably eat more than you intend to, switching them out for a healthier alternative or finding a new hiding spot away from your desk will make it a lot easier to control the impulse.
To decide what change you should make you have to decide what behaviour you want to support or impede. If you want to exercise more at home creating a dedicated space to workout in is very important: if you have to clean up all your kids’ toys before you can work out you probably won’t. If you want to be more productive you could purchase some organizational furniture for your office so you can more easily keep your desk free of clutter and distraction, and also be able to keep your supplies and tools organized and easier to find. These changes take a lot of time up front, which is why we often shy away from them, feeling like we are wasting our time, but can repay the investment many times over in time saved later.
These are both actually something I have been doing recently. My office/home-gym was okay but not fully functional. I lacked proper storage so my desk was always a mess, and the drawers were deep meaning it always took a while to find what I needed. This meant that often instead of writing as much as I would have liked I ended up cleaning instead. The gym part also wasn’t as functional as I would have liked: I could jump rope without hitting anything if I stood in the right spot; I also lacked anywhere to keep my equipment tidy yet still easy to access. But of course redecorating and organizing takes a lot of time and effort, which is why I have gone down to only one blog each week, dedicating the time I would have spent writing the other one to my remodeling as I know that once completed it will be much easier to maintain my exercise routine and publish multiple blogs each week.