Many times, when we are working to improve ourselves, we need to determine what we are already doing. In time management, for example, we need to determine where we are spending our time. Since most of our activity is based on subconscious or unconscious habitual behavior, we need to find out what are our habits.

One concept that can help with this search is called the Johari Window. This window divides our actions and personality into four sections, based on what we know about ourselves and what others know about us. What we want is to open up the pane(s) of the window based on what we do NOT know about ourselves and make the contents known.

Finding the Hidden Habit

The problem is that our habitual behavior is not something that we normally think about. For example, did you think about how you put on your clothes this morning? Probably not. So, when we try to identify our habits, we are faced with exploring "blind" spots of our personality, places that we normally do not see.

What we need to do is to bring out the hidden behavior, whatever it is. We need a technique that will allow us to see the unseen in ourselves. Conscious memory will not be good enough, since it can be lost or overwhelmed. We need something more. And time management provides one such technique.

Logging the Behavior

You can ignore your statements, and you can forget your memory. But you have a hard time denying written evidence, and that is the key. What you want to do is to start a log of the behavior you want to change. In time management, we keep a log for 2 weeks, writing down what we are doing every 15 minutes. In budgeting, we keep all our receipts for a month, so that we can see what we are spending our money on. In Toastmasters, a group dedicated to teaching public speaking, all speakers are monitored for crutch sounds like "er" and "um".

Like a video tape or a recorded conversation, a written log can make the hidden clear. Once we know what our current behavior is, we can begin to make the necessary changes. A log is something like an audit to show us the details of the behavior we are investigating. Once the audit is in, we can begin to make changes.

Initially, you should probably keep the logs for only a few days, say 2 or 3. Track the behavior. Then, as you get comfortable with keeping the logs, you can expand your time frames. Different behaviors have different time frames. Budgets work best on a monthly levels, while logging cursing or smoking is needed for only a few days. Also, since keeping a log is hard work, create a reward for yourself at the end of the logging period.

Making the Change

Once you have the log, you can see where the changes are needed. Sometimes it is obvious, sometimes it is subtle. But the log provides the source data. Once you have instituted the process of change, you can use the same logging techniques to monitor your progress. Do not expect overnight miracles, but being aware of your behavior is the first step to improving it.

Author's Bio: 

John Steely has been teaching mathematics, study skills, and habits of success for over 25 years. You can access a number of free resources he has found and made at Steely Services