The Confusion Of Habit and Routine

The Confusion Of Habit and Routine

Habits are programmed human behaviors with little or zero conscious thought. Habits free our minds to other things, but our behavior isn’t always on autopilot. There are many tasks that require concentration, deliberation, and effort, and cannot be simply fed in the brain as an automatic habit.

Behavior that requires conscious thought (like writing a journal every morning) is a routine, not a habit.

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The key to productivity is distinguishing 'habits' from 'routine'

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If we are procrastinating instead of doing a certain task, telling ourselves that we would it later, it is a sure sign that the task isn’t a habit which can be done on autopilot but is, in fact, a routine.

Anything that requires effort is easy to forget or postpone.

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  • Keep It Up: The behaviour has to be solidified as a habit and for that, you need to ensure that it is a regularly performed routine. Get the help of friends or peer groups to keep yourself committed and prevent skip days.
  • Do It Right: A routine can become a habit if it is meant to. Instead of frustration and failure, find acceptance that some routines require constant effort and are hard to turn into magical habits.

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  • Start the right behavior: Be clear that certain behaviors can be routines (requiring a deliberate effort) but can never become habits.
  • Allocate time: Set up an implementation intention to plan to do something, setting aside a specific time for the activity.
  • Embrace discomfort: Repeatedly doing new behaviors requires effort and perseverance. Reimagine your discomfort as a motivating factor, telling your mind that it is a necessary rite of passage.

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Neurologically speaking, motivation is the desire to escape psychological discomfort or a life situation that is not giving us any kind of ‘pleasure’.

Most behaviors are prompted by discomfort. If we are hungry, we eat. If we are lonely, we call up a friend. If we are bored, we turn on the TV.

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