How to change a habit

Want to change a habit?

A couple of months ago, FastCompany published a great article on ways to change the habit of exercise.

  • A control group was asked to exercise once in the next week. 29% of them exercised.
  • Experiment group 1 was given the same task along with detailed information about why exercise is important to your health (i.e., “You’ll die if you don’t”.) 39% of them exercised.
  • Experiment group 2 was asked to commit to exercising at a specific place, on a specific day at a specific time of their choosing. 91% of them exercised.

Experiment group 2 is a great example of how you can help form a new habit by writing things down on a calendar or in a planner. When you write things down, you make a commitment to yourself to get something done – and it’s powerful. You may think you’re making decisions each day about all the stuff you do, but you’re not! Most of what we do is done out of habit. Let’s see what some of your habits are.

Habit Tracking Exercise
For the next week, keep a running list each day on paper, in e-notes, or in your planner of:

  • What time you got up
  • What you ate for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks
  • Your weight
  • What you did for exercise
  • What you drank
  • If you smoke, how many cigarettes you smoked each day
  • What you did for fun
  • How many hours you worked
  • When you went to bed
  • How much sleep you got
  • When you felt most energized each day
  • Overall how you felt each day – sick, focused, energetic, sleepy, overwhelmed, productive, etc.

At the end of the week, what do you see for patterns? What makes you smile? What makes you cringe? Did you get to your good work this week? Or was your time taken up with tasks? Did your week of tracking highlight habits you’d like to change?

If it did, take just ONE habit to focus on next week and create a one-week habit change plan – just like Experiment Group #2 did. What needs to happen on Monday? On Tuesday? By the end of the week? Add your new habit plan to your planner and track what happens each day. If you get off course, start again the next day. It’s just a week. You’ll get through it! At the end of the week, look at what you did and make adjustments.

Habits don’t take long to form but they do need focus and repetition – especially if you are trying to override a strong, old habit. But if the change makes you healthier, happier, and more productive – the change will be its own reward and the habit will stick.

I stumbled upon this rock while hiking at Acadia National Park this week. Sending you organizational love from the path of life.

Rock heart



7 thoughts on “How to change a habit

  1. I’m sure this is a great way to build new good habits and change old negative ones. It certainly would help with my aging, forgetful brain. My problem has always been I make a list and then I promptly forget about it. I grew up in a tightly organized household with lots of lists, meals planned out 3 weeks in advance, chores spelled out daily, etc., and while I do love a good organized life, I just am stubbornly opposed to lists. It’s a bad habit I need to change. I’ll make a list.


    • Hi Mary Kay! My focus about finding Organizational Zen is to not waste time v. mapping out the details of life. I love to plan out the big stuff (and for work, the meetings and calls), then happily let the rest of my life just happen. 🙂


  2. Great tip and simply stated,..thanks for sharing this Janie! By the way, the heart rock,..”organizational love from the path of life”…nice tie in!


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