Break bad habits and develop new onesModern life is increasingly busy, with growing time pressures often leading Australians to neglect their passions and hobbies. However, while most of us would love to use our spare time more productively, we still waste time that could be better spent on fruitless pursuit.

A recent study* shows that watching TV is by far the most popular unproductive spare time activity amongst Australians, with 84% turning to TV during down time and 3 in 5 scrolling through social media to fill their spare.

Further findings show that 80% would in fact like to use their time in a more fulfilling way. To combat this, Officeworks has engaged Dr. Timothy Sharp, Chief Happiness Officer at the Happiness Institute, to provide an easy to follow plan to help break bad habits of unproductive behaviours.

This plan will help people shift their routine and start focusing on their interests to fill their time, leading to a more balanced lifestyle.

  • Put pen to paper and identify what habit you want to break, this will help you recognise your habit, why you do it and eventually, how you will alter it. Following this ask yourself what you would like to replace it with. It could be a calming hobby like meditation to ease a busy work life or a crafty project to reignite your creative side.
  • Start by slowly reducing the time you spend on your current bad habit, this could be done by steadily shaving off 25 minutes each day. Although many people want to make major changes overnight, studies clearly indicate that ‘slow and gradual’ is a far more effective long term strategy.
  • Once you have reduced a little time and find you have more spare minutes in the day, get started on your new hobby. For the first few sessions do ‘mini’ activities, this will help feed your desire to switch up your routine and continue your new found hobby.
  • To keep motivation levels high, share your journey with a friend or work colleague. Simply sharing how you’re getting on can keep you feeling encouraged and you will further cement your decision to alter your behaviour.
  • Take a moment and revel in your new found time. Another well researched motivation boosting strategy is to list all the positives you’ve gained from the changes you’ve made. If you’ve taken up exercise, is it making you more energised?
  • Be sure to monitor your activity and reward yourself with something that incentivises you. Several studies have found that people often give up when trying to make a change is because they think they’re not making progress, when in fact they are.
  • Finally, look back and reflect on the positive changes you’ve made over the past few weeks. Simple things like setting phone reminders or creating a mini wall chart will help keep you focused and highlight how you’ve achieved a more balanced routine and lifestyle.

Dr. Tim’s full 3 week plan can be found here.  To offer some inspiration, Dr. Tim has highlighted three bite-sized activities you can do when starting a new hobby.

If you have 10 minutes: Getting your creativity flowing doesn’t need to take up too much time, sketching, painting or doing some adult colouring can be done in 10 minutes. Essentials like colouring pencils and a new colouring book are the only items needed to get you started and can be easily stored in your bag for the commute home.

If you have 20 minutes: If your new hobby is to take up a form of exercise, dust off your joggers and take a stroll around your local park to kick start your goal. Getting active helps relieve the stress of day-to-day life and gives you time to reflect. Try a couple of times a week after work and stock up on a pair of headphones and a fitness tracker to keep you entertained and motivated.

If you have 30 minutes: If you want to try your hand at something completely new, give yourself a little extra time to adjust. 30 minutes is a great starting point to get familiar and allocating some time at the weekend will give you the freedom to explore. If it’s something like a photography project, take the time to work out what equipment you’ll need and what you’d like to capture. This quick 30 minute process will give you clarity for your photography project and set you up for your new hobby.

*Officeworks consumer research