Habits are a cornerstone of our lives. Some of our habits and routines can be so automatic that we don’t realize we are doing them.
Our habits have a huge impact on our lives.
An important step in changing our habits is being aware of them in the first place. Self-awareness is important.
While a search on Pinterest (don’t forget to follow my boards for loads of great content) will reveal posts about improving morning and evening routines, what about those seemingly insignificant situations where you act out of habit?
These sometimes overlooked situations might be the ones having a big impact on your life without you realizing it.
Below I have listed 10 situations that are heavily influenced by your habits and routines.
By diving into your habits you can take a close look at what you are doing regularly and see where you can change your habits and routines to improve your life. These changes could be small tweaks or huge habit shifts. It’s all up to you and your individual needs.
Remember this isn’t about right or wrong, it’s about doing what is best for you and moving your life forward.
In the below situations, I have suggested questions to ask yourself. Depending on your situation, some will be relevant and others won’t. Use these questions and ideas as a guideline to spark your own curiosity about your habits.
Use your own unique situation to trigger other questions you should be asking yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask yourself the hard questions.
Disclosure – This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Any compensation I receive does not affect the price you pay.
Let’s look at 10 situations to make you more aware of your habits.
1. When you walk in the door after work
What do you do when you walk in the door after work? Do you have a routine that you are aware of?
Think of the first 5 things you do when you walk in the door.
Do you flop on the couch? Say hello to the family. Hug your partner. Greet the dog or cat. Head to the fridge for a beer or a glass of wine. Turn on the television. Start yelling at the kids for something you spotted that they did wrong outside.
While I realize each day is different, there is probably a group of actions that you are doing on a regular basis
that you might not be fully aware of.
Once you have a list of your common actions, ask yourself ‘I am happy with this behavior’. What could I change to bring more joy to my day?‘
Make sure you also take other people into consideration particularly if you have a partner and children, as your regular actions have a big impact on their lives as well.
Related content on habits –
- 10 Best Books on Habits – Learn how to break old habits and create new ones
- 10 Behaviors That Stop You Growing as a Person
- Are You Repeating the Same Mistakes?
- How to Break the Habit of Self-Doubt and Build Real Confidence
2. When you prepare dinner (or have dinner prepared for you)
Do you have a particular routine when you are preparing dinner?
Often we do things we might not even be aware of such as snacking or drinking alcohol while we are preparing and cooking.
You might boss people out of the kitchen or shout directions from the kitchen. You might give someone a bigger serving and someone else a smaller one out of habit.
What about afterward when it comes to dishes and clean-up time, do you have habits you want to break or create there?
If you are having dinner cooked for you, what are you doing during that time? Are you sitting on the couch? Could you be helping out (or at the very least offer to help out)? A habit we can get into is expecting everything to be done for us, which can lead to resentment in the long run.
Could you be talking to the person cooking while spending some time with them?
Your daily meal habits can have an impact on your weight as well as on your relationships. Pay more attention to what you are doing on a regular basis and see where you can make some tweaks to your time in the kitchen.
Looking for some great books on habits –
- Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build New Habits and Break Bad Ones by James Clear. This is an excellent book that can change your life.
- Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything by BJ Fogg
3. When you are watching television
What are your habits when watching television? You might think that’s an odd question since you mainly just sitting watching television but let’s dig a little deeper.
Do you snack when you watch television? Are they healthy snacks or unhealthy ones? (My guess is on the unhealthy side since that’s what a lot of us do). Do you drink soft drinks?
Are you drinking alcohol?
In theory, there is nothing wrong with drinking while you watch television, but you need to be aware of how often you are drinking and how much you drink in one sitting. Both of these could indicate a habit that can turn into a serious problem.
Are you eating dinner in front of the television? (This is a habit of mine at the moment but it doesn’t help that I don’t currently have a dining room table to eat at).
Do you watch shows that you don’t really like habit simply out of habit? Do you watch television first thing in the morning? Is the television left on all day? Are you watching the television in your bedroom when perhaps you should be more focused on your partner?
Do you shout at your kids if they talk when the television is on?
Do you watch television while using your laptop (I’m guilty of this one) or with your mobile phone in hand? You might even be doing all three. If you are not focusing on one thing at a time, you aren’t really focused on anything at any time.
Your mind and your focus are all over the place, which is neither relaxing nor entertaining.
If you are trying to relax by watching television, perhaps meditation would be a better option for you. CreativeLive has an online course Meditation for Everyday Life to help you embrace meditation and bring more calm to your life.
I read a lot of articles about people reaching a certain level of success and they often have one thing in common – they don’t watch a lot of television.
Our television viewing is one area that can have a huge impact on our lives.
It can be such a huge waste of your time and time is life, so use it wisely and be mindful of how much television you are watching.
Related content on watching television –
- Do You Need to Review Your Television Viewing?
- Could You Give Up Television?
- Does Reality Television Promote Bullying?
4. When you arrive at work
What is your routine for when you first arrive at work?
I realize your actions may change depending on the priorities of the day but you might have more of a routine than you think.
Do you say hello to your co-workers? Start with an in-depth conversation about what you did the night before (heads up this could be wasting a lot more time than you think it is).
You might even start your day by complaining about the workday with a co-worker. As you can imagine, this isn’t a great primer for having a productive and efficient day. If your first action is to complain about something, that’s a habit that you should definitely try to break as soon as possible.
Grabbing a cup of coffee or tea might be high on your list. If you are going out for coffee and taking longer than you should, it could be affecting your productivity and focus. Are you eating breakfast at your desk? Even worse are you eating an unhealthy breakfast at your desk?
The most common one is checking emails (and what a time suck that is!)
Nearly every productivity article I have read says that you shouldn’t be doing this first up when you start work. You definitely shouldn’t be checking emails before you get out of bed. No mobile phones allowed near where you sleep!
You might be running straight into meetings first thing in the morning without even thinking about your priorities and focus for the day.
For that matter are you running late most mornings? (This is one habit you definitely need to work on and put a stop to).
Related content –
- Are You Talking Too Much at Work?
- Are You Reliable at Work?
- 3 Serious Communication Mistakes You Could Be Making at Work
5. On your way to and from work
What about on your way to and from work? Do you have habits and routines for this portion of your day?
You might drive or catch public transport to work.
If you spend a lot of time commuting, this part of your day could be a lot more important than you think.
If you catch public transport, do you read on your commute?
Of course, checking social media is popular but is that really an effective way to start your day? If you tend to compare your life to the people you see on social media, it’s not a good way to start or end your day.
Do you daydream? Do you plan? Do you make lists? Do you think about your goals?
You might use that time to worry about what is going to happen at work.
Do you get irritated by fellow commuters? Do you obsess about the train being on time? Is your habit of being annoyed about catching public transport? (If so, that’s not going to make for an enjoyable commute. You need to take some time to work out how to make commuting a more enjoyable experience).
Do you talk on your mobile phone?
A quick note on this one. I catch public transport and I’ve heard a lot of conversations that I wish I hadn’t and that I shouldn’t have heard. Private conversations should remain private so I would think twice before telling everyone on your train carriage about your private life.
Whatever your commute time is, use it wisely.
Audiobooks are a great way to learn new things, particularly if you are driving a long way or stuck in traffic. Let’s face it, a fascinating book (how about grabbing one on habits!) would be a lot more interesting than half of the rubbish they talk about on the radio or having to listen to the same songs being played over and over again, to the point that you can’t stand them any longer.
Add audiobooks to your commute to bring more value to the experience.
6. When you go grocery shopping
Do you know your grocery shopping habits?
More importantly, do you know if your grocery shopping habits are causing you pain or making your life healthier and happier?
The two main areas where grocery shopping is going to affect your life are health and money.
Do you have a habit of knowing your budget before you go shopping? Do you have a habit of making up a list or do you just buy whatever takes your fancy?
If you suspect you are spending too much money on groceries, start paying for them in cash. Do this for a month and it will make you aware of just how much money you are spending on groceries and hopefully get you to be more aware of your spending habits. Using cards can hide the reality of our spending habits.
Do you shop when you are hungry? (I know I said there was no right or wrong but this one is a mistake! I always buy more if I’m hungry when I go shopping).
Do you have a habit of heading straight to certain aisles and completely avoiding others?
Are you skipping the fresh fruit and vegetable aisle completely? (Yikes!)
When I go grocery shopping I don’t walk down the chips aisle. If I do stroll into that aisle, I buy potato chips (or crisps depending on where you live) and I don’t want to buy chips because I have a habit of eating a whole pack of chips in one sitting.
I might try to convince myself that I’ll just grab a small bag of chips but that’s just tempting myself (as well as kidding myself). More than likely I will buy the big bag, tell myself I’ll eat it over a couple of days (big fat lie right there) then eat the whole bag, be filled with remorse, and vow not to do it again.
The easiest way to break the habit is to not buy the chips in the first place. If I don’t buy them, I won’t miss them.
The more you know yourself and your behaviors, the easier it will be to break bad habits.
7. When you go shopping
What are your shopping habits? If you go to the shopping center or mall do you have a set pattern of actions that you take?
Do you browse through the first store you come across or do you go directly to the store that you want to buy something from?
Do you have different habits when you shop by yourself or when you are with friends or family? Do you have a distinct set of habits when you are shopping with your kids?
Can you go window shopping or do you buy something every time you go out? You might do this without realizing particularly if you use shopping as a form of stress relief.
Do you buy treats for the kids every time you go out? Have your kids got into the habit of expecting something every time you go out?
Your shopping habits can have a huge impact on your financial situation.
With all the swipe and go technology, it’s even more important to be aware of your spending habits to avoid having a huge credit card bill.
8. When you are cleaning the house
What are your cleaning habits?
Do you have a habit of stressing over the cleaning not being done?
Can you not rest unless everything on your list is completed? (This might seem like a good habit but could be damaging your relationships with the people around you).
Do you get stressed if someone else does the cleaning and doesn’t do it as well as you? Heads up – this habit could be discouraging people to help out more.
To some, this might not seem like an important issue but for other people, it can cause a lot of tension, so it’s best to examine your habits in this area.
9. When you are stressed
Do you know what your habits are when you are stressed? Many of us have go-to behaviors when we are stressed.
Do you eat? (This one is very common.)
Do you drink alcohol? Smoke? Complain? Yell at people? Sleep? Work more? Cry? Over-exercise? Hide from the world?
Each of us has ways of dealing with stress that have become habits.
Unfortunately, some of these habits are making us even more stressed and anxious.
Certain triggers can be associated with stress, which then sets off a habit. Knowing the habit as well as the trigger can help in breaking bad habits and creating new ones.
First up you need to be aware of how you react when stressed. Give this one some serious thought.
Stress and anxiety can cause self-doubt. Getting your self-doubt under control is important. CreativeLive has a fantastic online course – How to Break the Habit of Self-Doubt and Build Real Confidence. This course is run by Mel Robbins. I took this course myself this year and found it incredibly valuable. Read my review to see how the course can benefit you.
Related content – Know Your Trigger Words and How to Deal with Them
10. When you don’t want to do something
Let’s set the scene. You have a task to do. You know you need to complete the task but you just don’t want to do it. You just don’t feel like it.
What is your favorite form of procrastination? This might not be just one thing either, it could be a series of things. Whatever it is, it’s most likely a habit.
What about your excuses for not doing something? These are often habits as well.
Have you noticed how often you rattle off a particular excuse to yourself or to someone else? Often it’s an excuse you use so often that you don’t even realize you are saying it.
Get honest with yourself about your excuses.
Being aware of your habits is the first step in changing them. Changing habits can be hard, so the more awareness you have around them the better.
As I mentioned earlier you might only need a small tweak to a particular habit to dramatically improve your life.
Awareness is the first step in changing habits – taking action comes next. Consistency comes after that and before you know it you have a new habit to help make your day happier, healthier, and more productive.
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Read next – 10 Important Ways to Make Yourself a Priority