1. Schedule it. Enter onto your calendar every new productive habit you want to establish, whether it’s exercising, waking earlier, having a date night with your spouse or eating lunch away from your desk. Treat these as important as appointments with other people.
2. Worst first. Before quitting time, ask yourself, “If I got nothing else accomplished tomorrow, what would be the one thing I must do to have a productive day?” In the morning, sit down and knock out that task before you touch anything else—even email.
3. Try the opposite. If you usually eat when you feel stressed, try exercising instead. Form a new brain pattern, rather than indulge the old.
4. Discipline yourself. Examine your time and weed out bad habits—excessive Facebook checking or perhaps handling personal business during work hours. Turn off alerts and flashing notifications so you can stay focused.
Fortunately, habits are easier to make than they are to break. If you repeat these four behaviors often enough, new synaptic pathways will form. Then repeat—and repeat again—until your new priorities are ingrained.