Self Directed Behavior Change: Week One

For my Health Behavior Change Class this semester we must complete a self-directed behavior change project. This week I had two specific assignments to complete and I decided, why not make this a public project to help inspire and teach others the techniques for successful behavior change? The material used for this project is from the text “Self Directed Behavior” by David Watson and Roland Tharp.

Assignment One:

make a list of 3-5 goals you would like to see changed… think about the list for a day or two, make changes, additions or subtractions as you feel they are needed. My list included:

  1. Eat more healthier meals/Less processed foods
  2. Increase productivity by utilizing better time management
  3. Exercise more regularly
  4. Decrease stress levels

Then, choose one of these goals for the self-directed change project, making sure that it is interesting enough to be a challenge, but that it has chance for success.

I chose my second goal of increasing productivity by utilizing better time management. I have a lot on my plate these days; I am a wife, a full time student, a graduate assistant, a research assistant, and a photographer on the side. Despite all of this, I want to feed my family healthy foods, get exercise throughout the week, spend time with my husband and friends, achieve success in classes, go above and beyond in my assistantships, increase the reach of my photography business and maintain my creative hobbies (knitting, blogging and cooking to name a few). I know that it would be outrageous to think that I could achieve constant balance at this point in my life, but even a small improvement would make a HUGE difference! I chose this goal over the other 3 in hopes that increasing my time management will make achieving the other three goals easier to reach in the future.

Assignment Two:

List details related to your chosen goal:

  1. When working or studying I often let myself get off task (I will be working and then go check facebook or start working on projects that are lower in priority because they are still in the “fun” planning stages).
  2. I am less productive at home, as I would rather be in the living room with my husband than in the study working/studying/researching
  3. I will take Adderall (prescribed) to help me focus but even then I find it hard to sit down for long periods of time and remain on task
  4. I keep three or more to do lists (my to do list, my large planner and my mini planner!), so I am constantly checking and updating all three, worrying that I forgot something!
  5. I am less productive when I skip exercise during the day as I feel sluggish and unfocused
  6. I am less productive when I get to work late (this is hard to manage as I am not required to come in at a certain time every day)
  7. I am less productive when I have multiple deadlines or projects going on at the same time
  8. I often try to bite off more than I can chew and then am unwilling to delegate tasks to others

Observe your behavior and specify the following statement “My goal is to ______________ when ____________”

  1. “get all of my daily tasks completed each day when at work”
  2. “get all of my work for classes done each night when I get done eating dinner”
  3. “get my research hours completed each week when I have library time between work and class”
  4. “get the house clean (sweep, dust, laundry) when I am home on the weekends”
  5. “prepare grocery lists and meal plans, shop for the coming week and prepare some foods ahead of time when I am home on the weekend”

Specify what you want to do instead of what you are currently doing:

  1. Stay on task when at work, in the library or in my home study instead of getting sidetracked by facebook or downloading free fonts online!
  2. Designating a set time for me to be at work each day instead of coming in at different times each morning
  3. Delegating tasks to others willing to help out instead of trying to do everything myself
  4. Preparing meals and having a meal plan set by Sunday night instead of spending more time trying to figure out what to cook and eating quicker, unhealthier meals as a consequence or spending more money on fast food

Specify your goal in the context of “increasing desired behaviors”

  1. Increase time spent focusing on completing my to do list
  2. Increase time studying/researching
  3. Increase planning for shopping and meal preparation
  4. Increase delegation of duties to others who are willing to help (especially at work)

Specify chain of events that will lead to achieving your goal:

  1. Only having ONE planner/to do list
  2. Specifying a time to be in the office each morning
  3. Planning my time between work, library and class during the week
  4. Planning out meals, shopping and prepping during the weekend for week day meals
  5. Delegating more duties to others when I can
  6. Saying no to projects, even if they sound “fun”

Preparing for temptation:

  1. I will work to avoid social media during time in the office
  2. I will work to know when to say no if someone asks me to do something that I do not have time for I will also let my colleagues and supervisors know when I have a lot on my plate so that they will be less likely to ask me to do more.
  3. I will ask friends not to text me during work and class hours unless it is an emergency and to understand if I do not get back to them right away if they message me on face book.
  4. I will be tracking this here on my public blog page, by making this public I will be helping myself maintain commitment to the project!
  5. When I get the itching to open a new tab online I can pause, take a few breaths, remind myself of what I need to be doing and get back on track
  6. When I get distracted I will remind myself of my goal to be more productive and that social media is not going to increase my productivity!
  7. I will ask my supervisor and coworkers to remind me if they feel that I am biting off more than I can chew so that I can try to delegate out some tasks to others
  8. If I get off task, I will work to get back on task as quickly as possible and try to keep a record of things that trigger me to become unfocused; if I do not get all of my daily tasks completed I will try to record reasons why I might not have completed them.

List situations in which you feel you will have the most difficulty in achieving your goal:

  1. Easiest: in the library or in class
  2. Fairly easy: at home in the study room at night
  3. Moderate: at work
  4. Getting difficult: on the weekends
  5. Most difficult: when I have multiple deadlines/projects

Short term advantages of changing:

  1. Feel more in control of my responsibilities
  2. getting more accomplished
  3. having more time for things I enjoy doing because I got all of my work finished before I got home
  4. ability to cook healthier dinners because I planned ahead
  5. I will be able to take advantage of more opportunities by being able to meet deadlines!

Long term advantages:

  1. Better grades in school
  2. Improved evaluations from employers and supervisors
  3. Better work quality
  4. Improved relationship with my husband

Short term disadvantages:

  1. Not being as involved in social media (even if it is for work purposes)
  2. Constant focus placed on planning out my life (lack of freedom)
  3. Feeling like I am not in control of my own programs if I give up tasks to others

Long term disadvantages:

  1. I may not always have the time to spend on outside hobbies until I am through with school

After trying to create the above list I can see that the Advantages truly outweigh the disadvantages in my situation. I would much rather be less stressed out about getting work done and getting more time to spend with my husband than worry about getting enough time to do side hobbies or look at social media!

Specific statement about my goal:

I want to increase my productivity in work and school by increasing my time spent pre planning, preparing and prioritizing each weekend before the start of the work week as well as practicing focus when I am working, studying or researching.

Sub goals:

  1. Observe how often I stray away from what I should be doing to go on social media or other non-work/school related things
  2. Getting my planner/to-do lists down to one
  3. Organizing my to-do’s for work, school and research in ONE planner
  4. Planning my time between work, library and class during the week
  5. Planning out meals, shopping and prepping during the weekend for week day meals
  6. Delegating duties to others when I can
  7. Saying no to projects I do not have time for, even if they sound “fun”
  8. Being at work every morning by 9 am

Tie your goal to larger life goals:

  1. Being more productive may help me get through school faster
  2. Being more productive may open more doors to career paths as people see that I am productive and can manage my time efficiently
  3. Being more productive when I need to be may help me have more free time when I am not at work; I can spend more quality time with my husband!!
  4. I will be able to say yes to more opportunities if I am productive, as I will have the time management skills to keep from feeling overloaded
  5. I will have fewer issues with stress and moodiness if I feel like I am managing my time more efficiently!

Self Contract:

“I have set before myself the goal of becoming a more productive and focused person through this self-directed behavior change project. I am willing to change my behaviors as necessary to reach the goal that I have chosen and will carry out the steps suggested in the text”

Signed: Evelyn

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