Efficient Habits


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Habits have a purpose. The brain constantly monitors our activities, thinking and emotions. It if notices a repetitive daily activity, thought or emotion, it will marshall the resources of the basal ganglia, instructing it to transform it into a habit.

The brain converts activities, thinking and emotions into habits in order to mechanize certain activities, thinking and emotions. This not only saves the conscious brain (the neocortex, particularly the prefrontal cortex) from doing work, it also serves to conserve brain fuel (oxygen, glucose or ketones). When activities, thinking or emotions become habits, the subconscious mind (limbic system and brain stem) takes over, which allows the conscious mind to rest. Because the subconscious parts of the brain have been in existence for millions of years, through the process of evolution, it has become very efficient in automating activities, thinking and emotions.

So, the intended purpose of habits is energy conservation and efficiency.

Unfortunately, some unproductive activities, negative thinking and negative emotions can mistakenly be converted to habits by the brain. Watching TV, Facebook, Snapchat, talking/texting on the phone with friends, pessimism, anger, checking email constantly and negative gossiping are unproductive habits which do nothing to benefit your life.

Fortunately, there are certain productive activities, thinking and emotions that can be converted into habits, so long as you engage in them repetitively (typically daily), for at least a month. One month creates the foundational neural infrastructure. If you continue to persist in these productive activities, thinking and emotions, eventually the brain will summon the basal ganglia and instruct it to automate them, transforming them into daily habits.

So, what productive activities, thinking or emotions should you be engaging in repetitively so that they will eventually become daily habits?

  • Aerobic Exercise (Brain and Body Health): 15-20 minutes a day for at least 18 days.
  • Flossing: 18 days or more.
  • Vet Your Thoughts Before They Come Out of Your Mouth: 18 days or more.
  • Positive Gossip: 18 days or more.
  • Reading to Learn (Growth Activity): 15-20 minutes a day for at least 18 days.
  • Happy Birthday Calls (Relationship Builder Activity): 5-10 minutes a day for at least 18 days.
  • Hello Call (Relationship Builder Activity) : 5-10 minutes a day for at least 18 days.
  • Life Event Call (Relationship Builder Activity): 30 minutes a week for at least six months. This is a weekly activity.
  • Time Chunking Activities (Email, Voicemail): 30 minutes each, twice a day (check email and voicemail once in the morning and once in the afternoon). This will take at least six months.
  • Intermittent Fasting (10 – 18 Hours a Day Without Eating): 18 days or more.
  • Healthy Eating: 18 days or more.
  • Develop a New Skill: 254 days or more before you become proficient.
  • Develop a Niche: 254 days or more before you become expert.
  • Develop Positivity (Positive, Upbeat, Optimistic Mindset): 254 days for more.
  • Frugality (Conscious Spending): 254 days or more.
  • Become a Saver: 254 days or more.
  • Control Negative Emotions: 254 days or more.

In order for these productive activities to become daily habits you will need to engage in them at the same time every day. Some activities will become daily habits in as little as 18 days. Others, like aerobic exercise, can take 254 days or more before the basal ganglia will reach out and stamp them habits.

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Thomas C. Corley About Thomas C. Corley

Tom Corley is a bestselling author, speaker, and media contributor for Business Insider, CNBC and a few other national media outlets.

His Rich Habits research has been read, viewed or heard by over 50 million people in 25 countries around the world.

Besides being an author, Tom is also a CPA, CFP, holds a master’s degree in taxation and is President of Cerefice and Company, a CPA firm in New Jersey.
Phone Number: 732-382-3800 Ext. 103.
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