There’s no doubt about it. In order to be successful while working on side projects, we’ll have to adjust some of our habits. (Including those not- so-great ones we got but don’t want, and those ones we’d like to strengthen.)
That means looking at work habits, money habits, sleep habits, how we allocate and use our time, and what behaviours we can adopt in the service of boosting our energy levels.
Luckily, there are some world-class mentors and guides out there. So, with your permission, we’d like to spend the following paragraphs dropping a few names so you can pick up some new habits.
We’ll leave it to you to dig deeper if anybody piques, pimps or pricks your curiosity.
We hear a lot about mindfulness these days, but Dr Langer is one of the world’s leading authorities on mindlessness. She’s also the first woman to be tenured in psychology at Harvard. Through her extraordinary work (and experiments), Ellen has identified how the mindless following of routine and other automatic behaviour leads to error, pain and a predetermined course of life. In a recent book, she asked, explored and reframed the question ‘can we do it?’ to ‘how can we do it?’.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Charles Duhigg wrote the highly acclaimed book on the science of habit formation, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. Not surprisingly, the book spent over 60 weeks on The New York Times’ Best Sellers list. As Dan Pink, no mean writer himself, said, ‘Once you read this book, you’ll never look at yourself, your organisation or your world quite the same way.’
Judson Brewer (MD, PhD) is a thought-leader in the field of habit change and the ‘science of self- mastery’. And he’s developed and tested many novel mindfulness programs for habit change. Particularly, underlying neural mechanisms using standard and real-time fMRI. He’s currently the director of research at the Center for Mindfulness and an associate professor in medicine and psychiatry at UMass Medical School. Oh, and he is also a research af liate at MIT.
An expert in creating systems to change human behaviour, Stanford professor BJ Fogg is the go-to Silicon Valley guy for behaviour design. Creator of the Tiny Habits method of behaviour change, he offers a free, simple and powerful 5-day online course about the basics. As well as a high-ticket 2-day bootcamp. Is he any good? Well, 10 years ago Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger was one of his students. We’ll leave it at that.
Founding editor and director of 99U, Jocelyn led the brand in its mission to provide the missing curriculum on making ideas happen. Jocelyn is a highly acclaimed author who writes about work and creativity in the ‘age of distraction’, and whose new book focuses on how to break free from email and social-media addiction. So where’s a good place to start with Jocelyn’s insights? ‘Hacking Habits: How To Make New Behaviors Last For Good’.
Cal is the man (and considerable intellect) behind Study Hacks: Decoding Patterns of Success — a blog that covers everything you need to know about productive, valuable and meaningful work in an increasingly distracted digital age. He popularised the term and literally wrote the book on deep work, which refers to applying focused chunks of time on projects without distractions such as email and social media. (Paradoxically, a million miles from BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habits. But a useful complementary component for anybody road-testing habit design.)
‘Willpower’, as defined by psychologist Kelly McGonigal, is ‘the ability to do what you really want to do when part of you really doesn’t want to do it’. Kelly says that humans experience conflicts between impulse and self-control, examples of which include the urge to be sarcastic, to complain or to procrastinate. Her extensive research, subsequent writing and broadcasting on the subject can help us all become what she calls ‘willpower scientists’ and lead fuller, more productive lives.
Smart family, or what? Jane is Kelly’s sister, but among many things, she’s an author who advocates the use of mobile and digital technology to channel positive attitudes. She’s also the CCO of SuperBetter, the science-backed app created by game designers that enables users to bring the same psychological strengths displayed in games into their real lives — such as optimism, creativity, courage and determination.
So there you have it: 4 wise men, 4 wise women, many wise words.