The Power of Habit – Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business

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One of my favorite books about organization is The Power of Habit – Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. This is what it’s about.

The Power of Habit is actually more about creating habits as opposed to organization.

But good habits are really the foundation for organizing.

We all know that the best intentions aren’t good enough.


It is easy to want to do something – but another story entirely to actually get that thing done.

Personally, I was getting frustrated with all my unfinished projects.

There were so many things that I wanted to do – all of which I started but never got around to finishing.

So after pounding myself on the head a few times – I went looking for a better way.

A better way to create good habits THAT LAST.

I found the answer in The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business by Charles Duhigg.

I think that Charles Duhigg is a genius.

This is why …

Habits are the Secret To Efficiency

On a daily basis, my life is a bit chaotic.

I have four kids, I work, I blog – there is tons to do.

Some days I can accomplish so much, yet on others, I get nothing done.

And then there are those days that things just slip through the cracks. They just disappear.

And I wonder, how is it that other people function so well?

I am downright envious of people that are so put together.

They sail through each day so efficiently. And they accomplish so much in the same 24 hours that I find so jam packed.

My suspicion was t that they were not smarter or even more organized than me, but that it has something to do with routine.

In the Power of Habit – Duhigg confirms these suspicions.

A habit gives people the ability to act without having to take the time to think about the action.

This, of course, can be good and bad.

After all, there are both good habits and bad habits.

How A Simple Habit Keeps Our House Running Smoothly

One habit that I have developed over the years is very mundane but essential to my daily routine.

Every night I run our dishwasher.

And in the morning, while the coffee brews, I put away the clean dishes.

This result of this simple habit is that there are never dirty dishes piling up in the sink.

And there are always clean dishes available during the day when the family needs them.

This one simple habit keeps our busy kitchen running in an efficient manner.

How to Build New Habits and Change Old Ones

The Power of Habit begins by describing how one woman hit rock bottom and turned her life around by kicking old habits and developing new ones.

In the first section Duhigg explores research and a few case studies into the why and how of habits.

Habits, scientists say, emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort.

It makes perfect sense.

The Habit Loop

For a habit to exist there needs to be 3 components:

  • a cue,
  • a routine, and
  • a reward.

The cue is the trigger that tells you to start the routine.

The routine is what you do to make the reward happen.

Chapter 2 in The Power of Habit tells us how new habits are created and Chapter 3 explains what we must do to change old ones.

I know that the secret to accomplishing my New Year’s Resolutions is to create many new habit loops.

If I can put my day on autopilot I won’t waste time trying to figure out what to do next.

One thing that I have started to do every evening is planning the following day out in detail.

To accomplish this I use the calendar on my iPhone but I am also using an Erin Condren LifePlanner to help me map things out.

By actually jotting things down, I am getting an accurate picture of how much time I really have.

This keeps me from trying to squeeze too much into each day.

How to Build Habits for Your Organization

The second part of The Power of Habit explores the habits of business and organizations.

While this section is not as relevant to accomplishing personal goals, it really delves into why people do what they do at work.

While companies are not living, breathing beings – they also do have habits.

And improving on those habits can improve the bottom line as well as other intangibles like worker satisfaction.

The Habits of Societies

The third part explores the habits of societies as a whole.

While this section was interesting – I found that I found the first section and the appendix (A Reader’s Guide to Using These Ideas) to be invaluable.

I know that I will be referring to this book – The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg – many times throughout the upcoming year.

Good Habits are The Key To Getting Things Done

Developing good habits and breaking old ones are the keys to leading a more efficient life.

The happy result is that you will get a lot more done each and every day.

If you are looking for ways to improve your time management and productivity read the book The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and then put everything he says into practice.

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One Comment

  1. Now that we are 3 weeks into the new year, I can honestly say that the book has helped me to prioritize making actions that I want to repeat into habits. The problem I have always had is trying to do too much. If I spread myself too thin, I don’t accomplish anything. Still working on that one. 😉

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