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Research Quest on overcoming procrastination & building habits

Research Quest on overcoming procrastination & building habits
Top 10 Research Quests from Research Raconteur

Are you ready to clinically conquer?

  • FREE Top 10 Research Quests ebook (as voted for by over 5,000 clinicians)

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    clinical research

  • FREE membership to all future Research Quests

Here’s a question that is way too personal:

Do you find yourself procrastinating important tasks?

Here is why I ask - how much harder is it for us to help our patients and clients to reach their weight loss, exercise and health goals when we battle to reach our own?

Let’s rephrase that question from a problem to a solution:

How much easier would it be to help our patients and clients reach their weight loss, exercise and health goals if we were proficient at doing it ourselves?

As always, let’s look to scientific research to guide us.

The Psychology of Habit by Wood & Runger 2015:

Their research found 2 things that helped to overcome procrastination and take action towards building habits.

1) “habits form in daily life as people pursue goals by repeating actions in particular performance contexts.”

2) “Goals also may contribute to habit formation through heightening attention to certain stimuli”.

From these two points, we learn that motivation and goal-setting isn’t enough.

In order to overcome procrastination, we need to create an environment and stimulus in order to kickstart and maintain a habit.

James Clear’s 2018 book provides us with

the four laws of behaviour change to achieve this:

1: Make it obvious. If you want to do your rehab stretches, don’t keep your pilates mat and program in the cupboard. Keep your mat out, with your exercise program stuck up against the wall next to a calendar where you mark with a big X each day that you stretched.

2: Make it attractive. If you want to eat more fruit, start with your favourite type first so that you’ll actually want to initiate the behaviour. If I want to eat more salad, then I cover the top with avo. Once the avo is done, I’m more likely to eat the rest of the leafy greens.

3: Make it easy. If you want to go run in the morning, keep your running shoes and socks next to your bed. Put your running kit on a hanger on your door. Have your water bottle filled up and standing on the counter. Reduce as much of the friction between you and the behaviour as possible.

4: Make it satisfying. This is the reward that makes you more likely to repeat the behaviour in order to create a habit. If you want to drink more water, then make a rule that you can only have a cup of coffee after 3 glasses of water.

If you are somebody that has 2 - 3 cups of coffee a day, that equates to 6 to 9 glasses of water a day.

Hydrated and caffeinated? Now we’re talking!

But would this actually work in a medical environment?

A 2018 study by Pyatak et al. looked at diabetic patients.

Instead of trying to educate diabetic patients on diet and exercise strategies to improve their health, they realised that if they focused on creating the habit of monitoring their blood glucose then that created the necessary stimulus to eat better and exercise more.

And this led to changes in their HbA1c.

Here's my final question to you. What is one small thing you could do today that you will still reap the benefits of one month from now?


Kyle (1).png

Written by Kyle van Heerden

Online Educator at Research Raconteur

Top 10 Research Quests from Research Raconteur

Are you ready to clinically conquer?

  • FREE Top 10 Research Quests ebook (as voted for by over 5,000 clinicians)

  • FREE infographical summaries on the latest
    clinical research

  • FREE membership to all future Research Quests

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