Are you finding it hard to get into the habit of using your Focus Planner? Then read on to discover some hacks that you can use to get the most out of your Planner, your routines and your day.
Hopefully, by now you’ve realised the benefits of using your Focus Planner on a daily basis. We want people to use it every single day - which is why in version 2.0 - we moved to having weekend spreads as well… so you can continue to use it and build the habit.
The thing that holds most people back is that they can’t get into the habit of using it daily. So here are some things we know about habits and how they work. If you can apply this to your Planner habit, then you can probably work out how to apply them to anything.
The Habit Loop
There’s a ton of research on how habits develop (our favourite is The Power Of Habit by Charles Duhigg). The most likely mechanism seems to be this ‘Habit Loop’ and it looks like this:
CUE ….. PROCESS…… REWARD
We call it a process rather than an action of behaviour because it can also refer to a pattern of thinking. Here are two examples:
You feel stressed (CUE)… You eat chocolate (PROCESS) … It feels good (REWARD)
You face something new (CUE)…. You think “I can’t do this” (PROCESS)…. Your expectations are met (REWARD)
The Golden Rule of Habit Change
In changing habits, possibly the most important thing we can consider is this: If we can keep the CUE the same, and the REWARD the same, and we can just change the PROCESS in between… then we have a massively increased chance of changing the habit.
Knowing this, then maybe we can piggyback our Planner Habit on the back of things that we already have.
So let’s see how we can use this cycle to create the Habit of using our Focus Planner.
Most people have a ritual to start their day - whether that’s at home, or when they get to the office (or probably both). So have a look at the current cues that you have and that you can use to remind you to use your Focus Planner.
Do you stop for a coffee on the way to work? Then use this time to write your plan.
Do you get to work and open your laptop/login to your computer straight away? The maybe place your Planner or a post it note on top of your laptop/keyboard to remind you.
Do you sit on public transport and stare at the seat in front of you? Maybe this is a good time - set an alarm to remind yourself.
Do you have 20mins to sit and reflect in the morning as soon as you wake up? Maybe you make a cup of tea… place your Focus Planner somewhere near the kettle.
You will have a million opportunities for Cues. Other things you can do is create new cues by setting an alarm.
It’s important to know how you work through your Planner process every day. Do you write your gratitude straight away? Do you write in your meetings for the day? When you have an automatic process (which you’ll only get by constantly doing it for a while) then it makes it easier to execute.
Otherwise, if you read back over the last part on cues, what we’ve tried to do is replace current processes with the process of filling in your Planner.
Sitting at coffee and checking social media - now planning time
Opening your laptop and checking email straight away - now planning time
Sit and reflect and sometimes get overwhelmed or worry - now planning time
Staring into space on the bus - now planning time
Hopefully, you can replace some unhelpful processes with the process of using your Focus Planner
Buy yourself a new car every time you use your Focus Planner! Clearly joking…..
If you think about is, the rewards you get from doing some of the above are the exact rewards you get from using your Focus Planner. By now, you’ve realised that using your Planner gives you a sense of control, a feeling of accomplishment, satisfaction, reflection, and can generally make you feel good.
What you probably don’t realise is that everything you are currently doing in the above situations is giving you the same things.
We check social media to feel good, we spend time reflecting to assess our current state, we answer emails straight away to get a feeling of control and productivity.
So key to changing these habits is to think about the good feeling you get when you use your Planner - how it makes your feel more productive and in control, and gives you a sense of achievement at the end of the day. If you can think about those things, you’ll get the reward.
You can also add another reward in. An easy way to do that is to use the thing you were going to do instead as the reward. Were you going to surf the web? Well, tell yourself you’ll do it after you’ve done your planning. Were you going to check social media? Again…. Do it after you’re done planning. Even deciding to hold off on that coffee until after you’ve used your Focus Planner is a great way to reward yourself for this great habit.
One other way to get the reward is to take a photo and post it on social media. If you tag us 10 days in a row, we’ll even send you a free gift!
Why Am I Acting?
Changing habits is as much about reflection as it is about action. Understanding the CUE that triggers your habit and then understanding the REWARD is paramount. If you understand what you’re getting as a reward, you can ask yourself “what else can I do to get that same reward?” If you’re about to eat that chocolate cake because you’ve had a crappy day and you want to feel good, then ask yourself: “what else can I do to feel good?”