One of my favorite books on personal effectiveness is called ‘The Power of Less’ by Leo Babauta.
Too Many Things At Once
One of the main takeaways from his book is that we often fail to create new habits because we try to do too many things at once. For example, maybe we want to eat healthy and work out more and spend more time with our kids and be more efficient when responding to emails. We try to juggle all these new changes at once, but it’s too much. We don’t have the energy to focus on everything, so we fail.
Focus on Less
The key to creating a new habit, Babauta argues, is to focus on less. Specifically, he suggests we focus on one thing we want to change, and focus only on that one thing for a month. He says it takes about a month for something to become a habit. Once we have focused on one thing for at least a month, we can move on to something else.
After I finished the book, I tried this out for myself. The new habit I wanted to develop was to write down my 3 most important tasks (MITs) each morning. These were the 3 things I wanted to make the priority for my day. The new habit was getting into the practice of writing down the 3 MITs each morning, before I got into my workday and checked my email.
For a month, I focused on this one habit and this one habit only. I put a sticky note on my bathroom mirror (What are your 3 MITs?) so I would remember it each morning. I wasn’t perfect—I missed a few days. But for the most part, I set my 3 MITs each morning. It actually wasn’t too difficult.
After 30 days, setting my 3 MITs has become part of what I do each morning. It has become part of my routine. I think I’m ready to focus on something else.
The Power of Focus
The key here is that because I focused on one thing during the month, I was able to do it. In the past, when I have tried to do 5 or 6 things at once, I haven’t been able to succeed at changing anything. But focusing on one thing worked for me.
What is one thing you want to work on this month? Try focusing on this one thing and forget about all the other things you want to change. Let all the other things stay the way they are for now. Write down the one thing you want to focus on this month and tape it to your bathroom mirror. Try to do something every day that is associated with your goal. See what happens when you just focus on one thing for 30 days.