You’re smart. You have free will. You make a thousand little good decisions for yourself every day. You’re pretty savvy, too. You can probably tell the difference between legitimate emails and phishing scams. You may know how to get a good deal on everything from vegetables to real estate. You couldn’t have gotten to where you are as a busy working professional without good judgment and critical thinking skills.  Your wellness goals may have gone to the wayside, though.

If you’re struggling to break through the feeling of being stuck, it’s a sign that something is in your way. Something is holding you back and keeping you from doing the things you want to be doing, making the choices you really want to make for yourself.  

To Change Your Time Management and Increase Productivity, Change Your Environment 

Could that “something” – the thing that’s setting you up to fail – be your environment? I believe so. I think your environment might be controlling you a little more than you realize. Actually, a lot more than you realize… it’s probably a big factor that’s holding you back from meeting your goals. 

Your environment predicts 80 percent of what you’re going to do. 

To be clear, when I talk about environment in this context, I’m not talking about geography or climate. I’m talking about your physical space – your home, office, car, etc., and the habits you’ve set up around them.  

Think about what happens when you first wake up in the morning. How long is it before you first reach for your phone? What do you click on during that first check of the day? Maybe email first, then the weather, then a social media app, then a second social media app, then the news, sports scores, etc. You might not even be conscious of what your fingers are doing, and if you’re like a lot of people, the same thing probably happens all throughout the day.  

Every time you pick up your phone out of boredom, you automatically tap on the same apps, don’t you? Ten minutes pass, then 15, while you play the same games and check the same sites you check every day. Because your phone is so ever-present in your environment, there’s nothing stopping you from engaging in this pattern. You’ll pick it up and interact with it in the same ways all day.  

Are there other ways your environment predicts your behavior and interferes with you reaching your goals?

Say you have a junk food habit, and you reach for cookies from the same cabinet every night. You decide you want to eat more nutritious foods, and start putting apples on the counter to encourage yourself to eat healthier snacks at night. As long as those cookies are still in that familiar spot in the cabinet, how likely are you to choose an apple over your favorite sugary snack? Not very likely, I’d guess.  

Right now I’m particularly thinking about how your environment can either support or sabotage your efforts about health and wellness goals. We all have some goals around health, even if they’re as simple as “eat healthier food” and “try to exercise sometimes.” There’s a ton of variation around these goals, of course. Some of us aspire to do more, like the following:

  • Meditation.
  • Beginning a more advanced yoga practice, or heck, trying yoga for the first time!
  • Working toward losing weight or gaining muscle in the gym.
  • Getting better sleep.
  • Cooking more at home instead of eating out.
  • Taking a daily walk.
  • Fitting in a weekly therapy session.
  • Keeping a journal.

There are dozens of ways you might decide to work toward health and wellness.   

What do all these goals all have in common? They take time. If your time management strategies aren’t already set up to work for you, these new habits are unlikely to stick. As you know, time management isn’t as simple as waving a magic wand and making free time appear out of the air. Creating more time for activities and wellness goals, like working out and meditating, won’t just happen, especially when your environment is already set up to pull you into the same distractions every day.  

I recently talked about this with my friend Holly Kouvo on her show Get Healthy with Holly. She’s a personal trainer, a nutrition specialist and the owner of Fitting Fitness In. Holly’s great at helping busy people develop customized fitness and nutrition programs that include accountability and set them up for success. Click here to watch the episode. It’s only about 27 minutes long, and could be super useful if you’re working toward any wellness goals right now. 

So how can you create the time you need to do the things that are important for your health and wellness? The key to start doing things differently is to set up your environment to pull you into the things you want to be doing, instead of letting it pull you into distractions.  

Changing your environment is all about putting new systems in place that make it easy to stop doing the unhelpful things you’re used to doing, and start using your time to move yourself forward hop into my Jump Start Your Productivity Home Study Program.  It’s the perfect place to start!   



Sarah Reiff-Hekking