My Best Productivity Hack

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 1 min read

One of the best ways to pick up a new behavior is to link it in your brain with something else you already do automatically. Do it enough and you have a better chance of the new behavior stick than just trying to will power yourself into learning to do something new.

My automatic thing: watching Digital Foundry videos after breakfast. These are some of my favorite gaming videos on YouTube and most videos are about 10-15 minutes long.

My desired behavior: do regular weight training, ideally every day.

Solution: Predictably, I've started lifting weights while I watch these videos in the morning. It's always a perfect length for a workout and all I have to do is lift in front of the iPad. I want to watch the video so associating that with lifting weights means I get something I want now (entertainment) and something I want down the road (a ripped bod…or at least some toned arms).

Bonus tip: I also put my dumbbell in the kitchen so it's literally right there when I'm eating breakfast in the morning and open YouTube. I just put the iPad on the counter, press play, and grab the weight that's right there. It's too easy not to do it.

This has been going great! It's been a few months and I genuinely look forward to my workout everyday. Now, there are days where there's no DF video, but the good thing about YouTube is it's full of 10-15 minute videos I will enjoy, so I can pick anything else and it still works.


This exact combination isn't going to work for you, but if you have something you want to start doing, consider linking it with something else you already do that you enjoy to make the mental association more positive. New behaviors are typically things with long term benefits, but lack short term gains. Linking them to something that gives you a dopamine hit right away can help.