How to Adjust Your Habits to Become More Productive

5 Actions You Can Take to Focus More on What Will Move You Forward

One way to become more productive is to adjust your habits to support you in accomplishing what you want.

Our lives and our results are the accumulation of our habits. To make changes that will last, we have to review what we’re doing, what’s working or not working.

Once we have that awareness, we can take relevant actions to identify and form habits that will help us.

As our habits are like deep roots, changing them can be challenging. We often experience resistance which plays out as excuses, justifications or stories we tell ourselves why changing something is not the best idea or won’t work for us.

How Habits Work

Before we adjust our habits, it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of how habits work. We can break habits down into these stages:

  1. Trigger
  2. Desire
  3. Response
  4. Reward

As we know more about what’s happening at each stage, we’ll notice what’s happening when we’re going through the process of adjusting our habits.

adjust your habits

It’s important to know rewards are the ultimate benefit of all our habits.

First, we’re triggered to take an action. It may be to eat or drink something, or take a particular action. The trigger is a link to a future reward.

Second, we have a desire to do something about the trigger. It’s the motivation we need to act. Most times, our desire is to feel a certain way.

Third, is the response or what we actually do as part of the habit. Whether we respond will depend on how much resistance comes us. If doing something will require more effort than we’re willing to put in, it’s highly likely we won’t do it.

Finally, is the actual reward. A reward can be to satisfy our desire. A reward can also be to teach us something valuable we can use to improve our lives.

This is a broad, high-level breakdown of how our habits work.

5 Things You Can Do to Adjust Your Habits to Become More Productive

To adjust our habits successfully, we have to ensure all four stages are addressed well.

  1. Create productivity triggers. As triggers are linked to future rewards, we should know what being more productive means to us. Examples may include doing specific things when we wake up or start our work day in a particular way. The key is to make it obvious, simple and visible.
  2. Fuel your desire with clear intentions and objectives. Higher clarity will result in higher productivity. As desire is linked to how we want to feel, a question we can ask is, “Today will be highly productive if I did and felt these things…”

    We have to make the desire strong to have enough motivation to do what needs to be done.

  3. Set yourself up to win. We’re more likely to respond the way we want to if the actions we have to take are easy. This can mean setting up systems or routines that will support us in being productive. It can also mean ensuring our work environment inspires us. When things are easy, we can build momentum faster.
  4. Build in fun and rewards. All work with no play is not fun. As our habits are formed to make things easier and give us pleasure, we have to give ourselves rewards. Self-care or social connections can be part of the reward.

    The rewards should support us in generating the emotions we want. They can also be psychic rewards which means we’re mentally or intellectually stimulated by learning something about ourselves.

  5. Review and repeat the process. Regular review is an essential step in ensuring we’re doing the right things. There will be things we’ll do that will not help us. By conducting regular reviews, we’ll be able to identify what we need to change or which stage in the process needs to improve.

    As we experience an improvement in our productivity, we can repeat the process for other areas we want to improve.


Our habits define who we are and how we show up in the world. As we pay more attention to our habits, we’ll become more aware of what we need to adjust and what we should eliminate completely.

The real benefit of having healthy, empowering habits is that not only will our productivity or effectiveness improve, our mental and emotional states will also improve. This means we’ll have a better quality life.

Action Step: Beginning at the first stage of the process to adjust habits, identify two or three triggers you can use to get yourself ready to be more productive.

Question: What are other things that can be done to adjust our habits to become more productive?

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