Your habits will make or break you. What’s worse, most of the time people are unaware of their bad habits until it snowballs, and become a problem. Allowing your bad habits to persist will stop you from reaching your full potential, and becoming the best person that you can be. To be able to change your bad habits, you need a lot of self-control. Although at first it may seem that winning over your bad habits can be tough, all your efforts will be worth it in the end.
To know the importance of self-control, University of Pennsylvania psychologists Angela Duckworth and Martin Seligman, measured students’ IQ and self-control as they entered University. After four years, the experts observed the students’ GPA, and learned that self-control is twice as important as IQ when attaining high grades.
In life, self-control is paramount to success. It will help a person build good habits, change the bad ones, and it’s a significant factor in productivity and work ethics. To gain self-control, a person must be willing to exercise it. Anyone can practice their self-control and make it stronger by breaking the following bad habits:
- Using devices (phone, tablet, computer) before sleep
Using devices in bed can affect your sleep, and eventually your productivity. It’s very common for people to use their phones or any devices before they doze off without knowing that it can harm their sleep cycle. The short wavelength of blue light from devices is absorbed by the body, which plays a major role on our mood, energy and sleep. The same light in higher concentration is given off by the sun, which makes us more alert during the day. When the blue light is absorbed by the eyes, the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin becomes impeded. Thus, during the afternoon, when the suns rays decrease in blue light, the body slows down somewhat. However, during the evening, the brain is not expecting to receive any blue light, so it becomes more sensitive to it.
Devices like laptops, tablets and mobile phones emit the same blue light in short wavelengths. Though the light from these devices are not as concentrated as what the sun releases, putting the devices close to our faces can deliver the same effect to the brain. It impairs the sleep-inducing hormone, which may stop you from falling asleep, and also decreases the quality of your sleep. You know that a good night’s sleep is important to your performance for the next day, right? Thus, you must avoid using devices after dinner, especially when you’re in bed.
- Frequent internet surfing
Impulsive usage of internet is a productivity culprit. According to one study, it takes a consecutive 15 minutes of focus to get that flow, and engage fully in a task. Once a person does it, they will fall into a euphoric state of increased productivity. People who are able to enter this flow are five times more productive than those who don’t. Meaning, if you impulsively surf the internet, you won’t likely get to focus on your task for a full 15 minutes straight. Failing to control the itch of checking your Facebook, checking the news, or anything you do on the net, will stop you from acquiring your flow. You will need to fill up the 15 minutes of focus again, until you reenter that euphoric productive state.
- Checking the phone in mid-conversation
Have you ever engaged in a conversation where the person you’re talking to keeps looking at their phone? You know it can be frustrating. It’s almost offensive to converse with someone who isn’t giving their full attention to you. Even a quick glance at a phone can be a total turn off. Thus, if you engage in a conversation, make sure you are focusing all your energy and attention to the person you’re talking to. You will realize that talking with other people is fun and effective when you get fully immersed in the conversation.
- Constantly checking multiple notifications
Checking multiple notifications will eat a lot your time without you even knowing. It’s the worst productivity culprit which can also deceive you that you’re being efficient. Studies have seen that checking your phone or email every time it pings, grabs your attention and makes your productivity drop. To avoid this mistake, make sure to pool all your notifications, and check them altogether at a particular time (every hour for instance). It will save you a lot of time, and will help you optimize your productivity.
- Not knowing how to say NO
Sometimes the biggest mistakes come from our inability to say “no”. In fact, a study conducted at the University of California in San Francisco shows that the more it’s difficult for a person to say no, the more they are susceptible to experiencing stress, burnout, and even depression. Not knowing how to say no also weakens one’s self-control. Many people find it difficult to refuse things. However, we must learn that “no” is a powerful word that we should not be afraid to use. Avoid phrases like “I don’t think I can” or “I’m not certain,” and be direct. Assert what you really feel, as saying no to commitments will give you time and opportunity to fulfill your existing commitments. The ability to say no is a way to strengthen your self-control to avoid the negative effects of over commitment.
- Avoiding toxic people
There are toxic people everywhere, but it doesn’t mean you need to be affected by them. Though these people can get under your skin and make their way to stay there, don’t waste time thinking about them if it makes your blood boil. Instead, think of the people around you that you are grateful to have. There are more important things that deserve your time and energy. Toxic people don’t deserve your attention. Lend your thoughts and energy to those people who really matter.
- Not paying full attention during meetings
Never multitask during meetings. Basically, never do anything with only half of your attention. If the meeting isn’t worth your full attention, you probably should never attend it at the first place. On the other hand, if the meeting is worth your full attention, you should get as much as you can from it. Besides, multitasking during meetings will give you a bad impression that you are more important above anyone else in the room.
“Great minds discuss ideas, average ones discuss events and small minds discuss people.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
One of the worst habits is gossiping about other people. It doesn’t only show what type of person and thinking a gossiper has, it’s also a poor way to make use of time. Gossiping only spreads negativity, especially when it peers into other’s personal or professional faux pas. Spreading rumors bring no beneficial results, it only hurts other people, and will make you feel gross. Instead of gossiping, focus on interesting people who can inspire you and others to learn and become better.
- Delaying your success
A lot of people with great potential miss the right timing of their success, thinking that they are not ready to give it a go. It happens in writers who spend massive hours developing the characters and their story. Some of them even write a pile of pages that they know won’t be a part of their book. It’s because they believe they need more time for their ideas to develop. Many people do the same. They tend to delay their projects and ventures thinking it’s not perfect and not good enough to be produced. However, the idea of failing stops them to achieve success. Author Jodi Picoult summarized the importance of avoiding perfectionism perfectly: “You can edit a bad page, but you can’t edit a blank page.”
- Comparing yourself to others
Each individual is different from another. Each of us has different strengths and weakness. Each of us in unique in our own very way. So comparing yourself to others isn’t just wrong, it’s also a way to lose your happiness. Getting satisfaction from comparing yourself to others, means you are no longer the master of your own happiness. For times that you feel good about yourself or something you did, don’t let other people take that away from you. Though sometimes it can be hard to ignore what other people think of, comparing yourself to others will just make it worse. What you need to do is value yourself and your happiness above all. After all, there is freedom and greatness in not caring about what other people think about you when you really know who you are. Also, one thing is certain: you’re never as good or bad as they say you are.