James Clear writes about the four laws of behavior change: cue, craving, response, and reward.
It's these four things that form any habit - good or bad - and when used properly, it becomes easy to form powerful habits and break bad ones.
Here's an example of how the laws work:
Your phone buzzes with a notification (the cue).
You want to reach for your phone to check the notification (the craving).
You reach in your pocket and pull out your phone to take a look (the response).
Lastly, you get a hit of dopamine from the like on your Instagram post (the reward).
The more this cycle repeats itself, the more cemented the habit becomes. That's why you check your phone immediately after notification.
Let's start with the first law: the cue.
Cues are everywhere, and if you want to form a good habit, Clear recommends something called environment design.
You want to put fewer steps between you and the good behaviors, and more steps between you and the bad behaviors.
Let's say you keep forgetting (or ignoring) your English class' assigned reading for the week, instead of playing video games all night.
Next time you are finished gaming, unplug your console from the wall and move it in another room.
Now, instead of sitting down to game without any friction, you have to set up the console.
That takes more work and means you're less likely to game instead of study.
You can combine environment design with something called 'habit stacking' to make your habits even easier. Habit stacking involves using the habits you already do every day to form new habits.
Let's say you make your bed every morning. You can say to yourself "after I make my bed, I'll put my book on the pillow."
Now, you're making it a habit to put your book on your pillow before bed, and it's easy because you've stacked the habit with something you already regularly do.
Then, when it comes time for bed, you'll have your book waiting for you on the pillow, rather than buried away in your backpack.
When the book is right in front of you, it becomes harder to ignore.
By designing your environment for success, you're now far more likely to become a regular reader, and less likely to waste time playing video games.
Imagine spending all of your time in an environment like this that encourages you to do good habits and prevents you from the bad ones.
Or, if you want to wake up earlier in the morning, make it a habit to set your alarm across the room instead of next to your bed.
That way, you have to get out of bed to turn it off, making it harder to go back to sleep.
Couple that with a glass of EarlyBird in the morning, and you'll be ready to get sh*t done.