So, honestly you already are aware of the things that highly successful students do. There is no great secret in knowing the 5 habits of highly successful students. The real problem is that even when we know everything, we are still unable to adopt these habits.
You make a long list of new year resolutions and try to re-invent yourself, but on January 10 you find yourself sitting on your sofa munching chips, guzzling beer and binging on Netflix, while checking your phone every 5 minutes.
So, I will give you
a) The top 5 habits of highly successful students,
b) 10 Easy tips and small things to do to help you form these habits.
c) Names of four wonderful books that will help you build these habits of success.
So, let’s begin with the four books that I used for building the content of this video and you will find extremely useful when you set out on the habit building path –
1. Atomic Habits by James Clear
2. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
3. Indistractable by Nir Eyal and also
4. Hooked by Nir Eyal
And here are the how’s and why’s of the top 5 habits of highly successful students
Habit No. 5. Find the source of your distraction
You might think that your phone is the source of your distraction and just keeping your phone on silent is the solution to all your problems. But even though we know this, we find it impossible to do that. So what is the real source of our distraction?
Nir Eyal says that the opposite of distraction is not focus, but traction. And they both have the word ‘action’ in common, which means that it is something we are doing consciously, not something that is happening to us. So traction is all those things you had planned to do and distraction is all those things you do even though you had not planed to do them. There is a term called Akrasia which is the tendency to do things against our better judgement. Let’s learn how to deal with Akrasia.
There are two triggers to distraction – one is the more obvious external trigger – the ring / beep of your phone, and the second is – the internal trigger – something inside us – this could be loneliness, low self esteem or just boredom that leads us to keep grabbing our phone. Our brain is getting us to escape from these uncomfortable feelings. So we need two strategies –
Manage internal triggers –
If we are to manage distractions, we must recognize and manage these internal triggers. But how do we do this?
Here are some steps to follow
1. Every time you are distracted, pause and note down – what is that sensation that we are trying to escape. Is it fatigue or something more painful.
2. Acknowledge the pain and let it surface. Do not drown in it or shut it out. So if you discover that you are stressed and hence you are procrastinating. Take time to relax yourself. Be compassionate to yourself, don’t beat yourself for procrastinating.
3. Give yourself 10 minutes and the pain will most times pass or settle.
Once we are aware, we might be able to slowly fix the root cause of some problems.
Hack external triggers –
1. Turn off your app notifications right now.
2. Keep the phone and away from your study space. The body resists tasks that require effort. So every time you reach out for the phone, and you discover that it is 45 seconds away, you will inadvertently find yourself saying – fine, I will check it later. And tell your friends – announce your method, so they all know not to expect instant replies from you
3. Send less messages in general – the more you send, the more you wait for responses and the cycle goes on.
4. Active class participation- avoid looking at your phone in class, instead make notes, ask and answer questions, participate in discussions – and you will be amazed at how much learning you would have already completed in class while everyone else was busy checking their phone.
5. There are three apps that you can use to block out distractions – the forest app, self control app and time guard app – all of these are free tools that we can use.
Habit No. 4. Find your golden hour – or two
Everyone has that period during the day when they are most productive. Find yours. Mine is at 7am. Observe the routine of your home and find that slot where you are the most productive, creative and energetic.
Now I work from home it was very challenging for me to find time to be productive. So here’s how I hacked my routine.
I wake up at 6:30am, drink 2-3 glasses of water. Then I prepare myself and a hot cup of herbal tea. These were old habits, so I stacked one more habit on top of these. I was not finding time to do my music riyaaz. So stacked it along with my herbal tea and now I am able to do it for 20 minutes every morning.
At 7 am, I don’t read the papers, or respond to messages. I go into my study and work on my script for the next video. That work requires the most amount of creativity and solitude, so this golden hour (or two) gives me more productivity than sometimes an entire day would.
At 9am I find that the whole house is buzzing with noise. The bells and phones are ringing, and people are coming and going. So, I go off to the gym at this time. This helps me in two ways – one, the gym is relatively empty at 9:30 am and two I would have anyway wasted this time given that I worked hard for 2 full hours in the morning.
Tom Cleary calls this ‘habit stacking’ – he says that stacking one habit on top of another makes is easy to do multiple things back to back during your most productive hour and bingo, before you know it, you’ve accomplished a lot in a short period of time.
Habit No. 3. Time Management
Find a time table you like, customise it, stick it up on your walls, use a calendar app – set out intentions for things you want to implement. Make time for traction. The trouble with distraction is that while we are binging on Netflix, we are not even sure what were were supposed to be doing at that time. And our mind convinces us, that whatever it is can always be done later. The brain is very clever, it uses ‘tomorrow’ to trick us into not doing what is important today.
So plan your time, don’t just make a to-do list. You see, to-do lists have a funny way of just staying exactly the same day after day, you’re so busy all day, yet nothing seems to get done. So plan your time – 6 am to 8 am I will work on my creative writing project, this entire week. I guarantee you that if you did that, you will have a very high quality project paper at the end of the week.
While making your time table use the technique of distributed practice – where you do small quantities of practice more frequently rather than cramming the entire syllabus one day before the exams. We have some time tables for exams and school students. Include time to file papers, prepare notes and packing your bag at night. Organising yourself is an easy way to reduce stress.
Habit No. 2. Health, fitness and Nutrition
Let’s start with exercise. Charles Duhigg calls exercise a keystone habit, which means that this one habit changes everything else inside us. Now, I know how much we procrastinate on this one habit, so let’s see how we can make this easy for us
1. Set up a cue
– example, if you want to go running as soon as you wake up, then take your running clothes and shoes out at night and keep it right next to your bed
2. Join a fitness group
– it is much easier to set up habits in groups
3. Make it easy
– don’t train like an expert, where your body hurts the entire day from lifting heavy weights and you feel sorry for yourself. Make exercise fun, do what you enjoy doing – swimming, playing badminton or walking with a friend. Make habits enjoyable, else you will drop out. And don’t worry about progress, it is usually a two step forward, one step backward game, but it is still progress,
Now let’s talk of healthy eating –
1. Crowd out your refrigerator
– fill it up with healthy food. Most often when we eat unhealthy it is because our refrigerator is empty and fast food is convenient.
2. Food journaling
– will power does not last long and writing what you eat everyday is said to be one habit that makes a difference.
3. Set up genuine rewards along the way.
Give yourself a small chocolate at the end of three good days. Soon it will become a habit.
4. Create an identity pact
– when people are vegetarian for instance, they tell everyone that they are vegetarian, and they don’t go through this dilemma of should I eat meat or not. They just don’t eat it coz that is who they are. For instance, I have started intermittent fasting, and I don’t eat after 7pm. So when I say that to my friends, it kind of establishes a ritual. Friends no longer force me to eat late and I also get embarrassed eating late at night, since I have made this fancy declaration.
Habit No. 1 – Go outside your comfort zone
Draw a big circle on a paper. Write inside it everything that you already have – it could be a car, a college degree, or loving parents and great friends. Now write outside the circle everything you want but do not have – this could be a new home, a fat paycheck or a vacation, or just a cute pet.
Now what is this circle – it is your comfort zone or your income zone.
Habit #1 is to expand your comfort zone. Do one thing daily that makes you uncomfortable. Do things that make you scared / do stuff you don’t do otherwise / try painting, or playing the guitar. Make a speech in front of an audience, try to sing in front of friends. If you’re not doing one thing a day / week or month that scares you / makes you uncomfortable or sick in the stomach, then guess what – you’re not growing.
Believe in your superpower, believe in your ability to hack yourself into this person you want to be – one small step every day.
1. Expand your comfort zone
2. Health, fitness and Nutrition
3. Time Management
4. Find the Golden hour – or two
5. Find the source of your distraction
Ten habit forming strategies-
1. Manage internal triggers, hack external triggers to avoid distractions
2. Find your golden hour – or two
3. Habit stacking
4. Use a time table, distributed practice and organise yourself
5. Set up cues
6. Join groups
7. Make habit formation easy
8. Reward yourself genuinely
9. Food journaling
10. Set up an identity pact
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