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61 Examples of Good Habits

Good habits are repeated patterns of behavior that benefit an individual. These are important because once established, habits are often repeated such that they can produce significant results over time. The following are useful habits that don't include anything overly obvious such as eating well, exercising and brushing your teeth.

Respecting Time

Planning in minutes and showing respect for your own time and that of others. For example, finishing a meeting in 12 minutes if that's all that's required.


The habit of greeting and saying goodnight to people such as family, neighbors and coworkers. As with so many forms of politeness, it is easy to drop this but things feel less social when you do.


Remembering to make introductions in social situations where it may be expected.

Shared Experience

Enjoying shared experiences with those around you on a regular basis. For example, eating a proper social meal with your family at least once a day.

Random Acts of Kindness

Doing something nice for someone where there is no expectation that you do so. For example, buying someone a small gift when it's not their birthday just to show you're thinking of them.

Senseless Acts of Beauty

Pursuing a sense of wonder once in a while. For example, spontaneously organizing a star gazing outing with your family without any specific reason to do so.

Direct Communication

Getting to the point while your audience is still likely to be listening.

Intent to Understand

Listening with intent to understand where it makes sense to do so. This doesn't mean you can't filter out uninteresting information in some efficient way.


Being yourself and refusing to be evasive or untruthful.


Being forthcoming with information where it is useful.


Avoiding harsh honesty that is likely to hurt people.

Process Goals

The practice of setting goals for what you will do as opposed to what you want.


A backlog is a prioritized task list. Any and all ideas for improvement can be added to your backlog. Only those tasks that are prioritized are ever completed.


Choosing the most important thing on your backlog and getting it done in a very short period of time.


Flow is an uninterrupted state of high productivity and creativity. Find a way to achieve and sustain flow and make this a habit.

Backlog Refinement

Kicking things off your backlog once in a while because they are stale or weren't a good idea. It is also possible to start a new backlog if your existing backlog is a mess of mediocre ideas.

Last Responsible Moment

The practice of waiting until something really needs to be done before doing it. This runs contrary to the conventional wisdom that it is better to plan ahead and start early. However, people with very high overall productive output tend to be last responsible moment. It may be that urgency creates productivity such that doing tasks long before they are due is inefficient.

Messy Desk

The observation that highly productive people may have a messy desk. This suggests that it is better to be obsessed with your core work as opposed to being overly concerned with trivial issues such as clutter.

Mise en Place

Mise en place is the conventional wisdom that it is highly important to organize your workspace before working. This does make sense in some situations. For example, if an organized workspace will mitigate a serious safety issue.

Reducing Toil

The process of automating or implementing tools that reduce unpleasant and repetitive work.


Self-discipline is the practice of doing what needs to be done even if you're not feeling particularly motivated.

Single Tasking

Completely immersing yourself in a task without distraction.

Pareto Principle

The pareto principle is the theory that 80% of value is created with the first 20% of work. This isn't necessarily true but is an interesting concept for avoiding needless perfectionism.

Selective Perfectionism

Perfectionism is often portrayed as an entirely negative impulse. However, it can make sense to do things correctly or create work items of very high quality. For example, a product that is very well designed may outsell a product with a mediocre design by 100x.


Overcoming challenges and solving hard problems by not giving up.

Accepting Failure

The process of recognizing failure to find value in it such as a new direction.

Fail Well

Fail well is the practice of designing things to fail quickly, cheaply and safely. For example, renting equipment the first time you try a sport as opposed to buying high-end gear before you start.

Design Thinking

Designing things to solve problems in any area of life. For example, preventing repetitive stress injuries by designing your workspace and work processes.

Systems Thinking

Systems thinking is the practice of identifying the unintended consequences of actions.

Risk Taking

Remembering to be brave and to resist complacency and mediocrity.

Risk Management

Risk management is the practice of identifying risks and managing them. Critical to risk taking.


The practice of taking a look at your own character, behavior, emotions and thought processes to improve yourself. This can be a good habit for evenings whereby you reflect on your day.


Thinking of reasons to be thankful and expressing gratitude to others on a regular basis.

Positive Feedback

Providing positive feedback to others. For example, complimenting others on their cooking when they've prepared a meal.

Critical Feedback

Getting on top of problems by providing others with critical feedback. This only applies where you have responsibility to the person to let them know.

Tolerance for Disagreement

Adopting the pragmatic view that there is a great diversity of thought and that people will disagree with things that you believe.


The practice of not caring about things that you need not care about. For example, accepting that people are imperfect and not letting this stress you out.


The pursuit of joy for its own sake.


The habit of investigating things to satisfy and nurture your curiosity.


Experimenting to develop new knowledge that is relevant to your pursuits.


The practice of measuring, improving and measuring again in fast cycles that make something better and better.

Big Picture Thinking

Stepping back from detail-oriented thinking such as optimization to challenge your most basic assumptions.


The habit of leading yourself and others by making decisive decisions.

Managing Expectations

Clearly communicating what you will do and not do to stakeholders. Fights the tendency for people to imagine that you have committed to things that you haven't accepted as action items.

Setting Expectations

Making it clear what you expect from others. It is unfair and problematic to expect things that you haven't clearly communicated.


Providing others with all the information that they could possibly need.

Time Boxing

Setting a hard limit on the time you devote to things.

Random Decisions

The practice of using a random process such as a coin toss to make a decision to avoid overthinking. This applies to situations where options are more or less equally attractive or where the impact of the decision is low.

Small Talk

Striking up conversations with people, even if you don't know them well. For example, getting in the habit of talking to people from other teams around your office.

Touching Base

Initiating a conversation once in a while to keep social connections active.

Reading People

The habit of trying to sense how people are thinking and feeling.


Self-monitoring is social pragmatism whereby you monitor how you are likely to be perceived. This can include awareness of appearance, personal hygiene, eye contact, body language, personal presence and the content of your communications.

Quality Time

Scheduling time for family, friends, community, altruism, leisure, recreation, exercise, learning and other important pursuits. Prioritize these as you would an important work assignment or meeting with a client.


The process of forgiving people allows you to move on without the burden of resentment.


Thinking about the good in situations and people including the future potential of things.

Defensive Pessimism

Consciously thinking in different modes. For example, generating ideas with optimism and validating them with pessimism.


Focusing on what you can realistically control and compromising to get things done in a complex and imperfect world.


The process of moving quickly forward by sidelining resistance. For example, a musician who ignores harsh critics because they know they are creating good music.


Redirecting negative or inappropriate emotion and motivation into something positive. For example, using feelings of regret to push yourself to be better.


Imagining how things could be without constraint.


The habit of not allowing others to derail your mood or path. This doesn't mean that you are oblivious to criticism but that you have high self-confidence such that you aren't sensitive to the negativity of others.

Good Habits

This is the complete list of articles we have written about good habits.
Design Thinking
End Goals
Fail Well
Life Design
Mise En Place
Pareto Principle
Personal Networking
Risk Management
Risk Taking
Self Criticism
Self Discipline
Shared Experiences
Systems Thinking
Time Boxing
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