Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Habit Audit

Keith McCullough, retweeting from Ancient Proverbs, said this on his twitter account:  "First, you make your habits.  Then your habits make you."  This quote isnpired me to examine the opportunity cost of my habits, i.e. how much I give up to engage in any particular habit. 

This isn't easy.  I don't have a readily available metric with which to measure opportunity cost.  Example: Option A: Workout for 1 hr.  Option B: Work 1 hr for $10/hr.  Opportunity cost is $10.00.  This dichotomy does not hold for most of us.  That is, your other option besides working out is probably not to go work for $10/hr somewhere.  So how do we measure opportunity cost?  You could try to guage the value of the next best thing you could do with your time.  So, if you wake up and watch an hour of Sportscenter, the opportunity cost of doing that is the most productive use of your time you can find (besides watching Sportscenter which you must feel is productive or valuable in some way).  For me, this probably involves studying or something similar that I'm not always motivated to do.

Now, the primary point here is that most of us engage in quite a few habitual activities without recognizing them as such.  This leads to an immense time and productivity drain if those habits are not productive, or not the best use of your time.

So, the Habit Audit is a way to get some control over where your resources are flowing.  How much time per day do you spend engaging in non-productive activities?  What habits could you replace with new habits, and what might be some measurable outcomes (example: an increase in your GPA)

25 comments:

Timothy Swonger said...

I know that, for myself, I get distracted much too easily when I find time after work or at the end of my day to do homework. It's hard for me to stay focused on my homework for a long period of time without surfing the web or getting up to eat something. In fact, I couldn't even complete this response without checking my Facebook and eating left over Subway. If I could discipline myself to stay focused on the task at hand, I could finish my homework in a timely fashion, and my GPA would probably increase as a result.

Lauri Hess said...

Nonproductive activities come down to choices you make in your life. It is your choice to watch Sportscenter for one hour in the morning instead of studying or working out or surfing the net, facebook or WWF instead of studying - then you deserve the grade you got. It is all about choices and living with the results.

Danielle Verdin said...

The habit I participate in that is not very productive but I always seem to find time to do is watching TV. I always say to myself that I am going to actually be productive and improve my grades, but all I end up doing is watching TV. I end up getting my work finished but it takes me at least twice as long. If I could just turn off the TV I would be able to get my work done much faster and it would probably help me raise my grades.

Breanna Hart said...

Nonproductive activities come down to the definition of nonproductive. Who is to decide if watching an hour of TV isn't productive? For someone to choose one thing over another there is an intrinsic reason that cannot always be properly expressed, therefore cannot be given a finite measurement. Even for things that may be seen as "productive", how would you measure their worthiness? It's really hard to do such a thing because each step you take opens more variables that need to be considered.

Keith Kaczocha said...

I am not sure that you can decide what is productive or unproductive for someone. I think everyone has their own ways of dealing with situations. Myself I keep very busy and don't seem to find enough time in the day to get things done that I would like to which would be studying. I guess I find getting up early to work out before work is more important than taking that time to study. At the end of the day I just want to take a break sit and relax which again could be used for something more productive. If we all took the time to evaluate the time we spend everyday I am sure you could find areas to improve or be more productive in.

amy feng said...

The habits that can replaced to turn a unproductive habit to a productive habit, is to limit the time used going through facebook messages and changing it to studying for midterms. Other habits that can be change to become more productive is to eliminate unnecessary trips to the store for shopping which is spending money rather than producing money.

Una Kim said...

I agree with Breanna Hart. Im so busy with a full time job and school that I don't really have any spare time to waste. When I do find myself some time, I try to make the most out of it. If its watching TV, I try to watch something I can learn from like discovery or history. Although watching televison is nonproductive to some, I find it is...

Shirley Paris said...

I believe it depends on who you are. Some People work there butts off, have families, attend school, ect. Maybe some part of their day they have a time where they are not productive are that is perfectly fine. Those on the other hand who have too much time on their hands and do not use it productively it is their own fault. The solution to that problem is motivation. Find some way to get up an go. There's no need to be lazy.

C'Anne Reichert said...

After auditing my habits it is clear to me that I need to be less productive to be more productive. If I would take the time to relax I might have less stress enabling me to accomplish things in a more proficient manner. But if I must pick an activity to give up, I will give up stressing about keeping my house spotless every night in order to focus on studying during the week vs. on Sundays or possibly even relaxing. Productivity is a good thing but allowing yourself to enjoy some bad habits from time to time is necessary to keep your sanity!

Faith Evans said...

My number one unproductive habit....television show re-reuns.I mean I could literally spend hours on a Sunday like this when I have nothing going on and just watch re-runs. What could I possibly be getting out of watching the same thing over and over again. It is just so much more relaxing then computing standard deviation and margin of error for two hours. Needless to say, it makes for a very non-productive day. Then homework and studying is procrastinated into the very last possible moment, thus less sleep. It can be so difficult to concentrate when it is on something you just don't want to be doing but will payoff in the end with better grades.

Mary Beth Renz said...

If there was no facebook, no twitter, no T.V., etc., I would use my time much more productively. I typically tweet and watch T.V. while I study and do my homework. Obviously I am not focused and if I cut the tweeting and T.V. out when I do my homework, I would be able to be more focused, get the information in my brain and move on to something that I would like to be doing. However, the T.V. is great when I work out to keep my mind focused on anything else besides the task at hand, such as running for a long time, therefore T.V. helps me be very productive and is a good habit for me. I also think that productivity depends on a person and what is important to them and also what it is enjoyable to them. Motivation is very important as well, you have to figure out what is best for you and you can most likely always improve.

Nikki said...

If I didn't find myself wrapped up in the mind-numbing world of Facebook and it's many games, or chatting with friends via IM, there are many things I could do that are more productive. For instance, my homework. There's ALWAYS something to clean around my house. Recording expenses for my business. Doing my financials for my business. Fixing things that need fixed. Organizing things that have gotten out of hand. But, to Breanna's point, measuring 'productivity' has variables. While you may not see any value in watching TV or playing games on the internet, the relaxation of it might actually allow someone to re-energize and be more productive than if they hadn't. It all boils down to what makes each person the most happy, what brings them the most pleasure. And no one can accurately judge that for anyone but themselves. And not everyone would agree with your own self assessment.

Anonymous said...

I agree with some of the other posters that there are different ways to measure productivity. If someone is always on the go and they don't take time to relax and breathe, they may not perform properly at the things they need to do. With that being said, I think people should take the time to assess whether their "non productive" activities are getting in the way of their productivity. For instance if facebook is getting in the way of homework one may consider deleting it, at least for a while. I know that sounds crazy to most, but it is a simple solution to a problem many people complain about.- Arianna Findlay

Erick Holzhausen said...

Some of my unproductive activities are all very related. I tend to keep busy with school and work but at times I find myself only wanting to manage my fantasy football teams, check the weekly point spreads on games, watch sportscenter, or play intramural sports. For the most part I'm pretty good about being productive and not letting myself have fun until my work is done but lately I've realized if I don't let myself be unproductive for a little bit then I will be even more unproductive in the long run. In order to get yourself to do something that you aren't wanting to do such as homework, you need to reward yourself and do what you want to do for a little too. I'm pretty good about putting my foot down, but it sure is hard during football/basketball season.

Anonymous said...

Kristin King-
I would say most of the time I am as productive as I can humanly be without going completely insane between work, school, and other responsibilities. The times that I am not getting work done, I usually just veg. As in I lay there doing nothing, and it feels amazing to sometimes just do absolutely nothing. On the weekends I could without a doubt spend more time on my school work. This is a habit I am trying to form now.

Andrew Schadegg said...

Obviously my GPA could gain a huge increase if i would only put in a little time of studying. My study habits are terrible, but that is because i still get good grades by cramming the night before. I don't have to many bad habits like watching T.V. are spending hours online. I guess my bad habits that take me away from studying properly would be exercising, and spending time with my wife and dogs. I have a full time job, and take about 9 hours each semester, so the opportunity cost of studying harder which I already said i get decent grades would be taking time away from my family which really isn't an option right now. Lucky that we aren't your average couch potatoe, but my wife has asked a few times about my odd study habits, so in the future if they do decline then i will have to reevaluate some things.

Eng Hong Sin said...

How much time per day do you spend engaging in non-productive activities? Well, I would say almost every single minute. Keep checking Facebook and email is my major problem. If I spent those time on my studies, I would get a better GPA. Also, if I spent those time to read some newspaper, I would gain more knowledge and know more what is happening in the world.

Ahmed AL Hassan said...

For me, I find difficulties in focusing my thoughts and do my assignment for school and study, because dealing with my financial stress and trying to help other people with their problem is taking my time. The opportunity cost of spending the time studying is leading me to not doing well in school.

Madeline Newton said...

well back in May i deleted my Facebook account because it was taking up so much of my time. Constantly on my phone just creeping away at stupid meaningless things just to pass time at work, while im supposed to be studying creeping on random people pages I do not even talk to, see, or care what they are doing for hours, and then driving myself crazy stalking others to be nosie. Well this year I get alomost all my work turned in on time (besides online assignment like this lol) i do not get yelled at at work, i get to bed earlier, I get studying done before my test, I do not pull allnighters, and I am not crazy from being nosie.
I also canceled my DVR this semester. I have saved a ton of money. And because I am at work every day then at school each evening and workout then study after school each day I am not able to get home at the times my shows play. When I had a DVR i would come home in between classes and catch a show at a certain time or come home and sit for 5 hrs and stay up late or skip studying or working out to watch a TV show that I DVR'd. So not that DVR is gone that eliminates being able to skip important things I need and want to be doing instead of being a double lazy ass by sitting on the couch and ditching some other productive activity i really should be doing

Anonymous said...

Yes you could spend an hour working out for $10 as a daily habit instead of working and making $10. The other options are to run at a park where it would be free so you would not have to pay the $10 but there is still the possibility that you could be doing something else productive with your time such as studing. How I view this is that from working out your are going to be healthier and more physicaly fit. You will be able to do more and recover from an sickness faster which will allow you to be more productive in your life. So the benefit of working out will out way the cost.
Torie Fuller

Melinda Spitzmiller said...

I probably spend about a total of 3 hours a day doing unproductive things. When I am at work I find I am checking my email, looking on facebook, or text messaging friends when I should be working or working on hw. The time I give up doing those things I could be making my sales or studying to improve my grades in class. I could replace these habits by turning my phone off while at work or studying. I have often considered turning my phone off completely but these days that is just not possible.

Chris Yang said...

I agree with Amy that instead of being on facebook or youtube, people could be using that time doing something productive like their homework or house chores. I tend to waste a lot of my time playing video games when I could be studying which would probably help my grades a ton.

Vickie Snell said...

I spend a lot of time complaining about needing more exercise and not having enough time to study. I could used the energy that I spend on complaining to think of ways to exercise and study more. The exercise would help improve my memory and this would improve my GPA.

Andrew S. said...

My biggest time waster would be the snooze button on my alarm for about 30 min I am neither asleep nor awake which if I just set my alarm for when I had rot be awake I would sleep better or if I got up with the earlier alarm I could maybe study more

Austin McNatt said...

Just as many have state I to suffer from the same nonproductive activities. I Wake up every morning and watch sports center for an hour, then go work out. Followed by class and wrestling practice. After practice I like to take a little break to relax and rest my mind. Insead of little my break turns into almost all night. Which leaves me little to no time to study or do homework. I could conbine my morning workout and watching sports center, and manage my post wrestling practice activities, I believe my GPA would majorly increase. Instead I see myself as one of those people always chasing time.