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A top writer’s good–and bad–habits

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in Office Communication,Workplace Communication

A Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist, Charles Duhigg has written popular books on making and breaking habits. He explores how we form good and bad habits, and what those habits reveal about us.

He admits that he’s hardly a role model. He will sit at his desk for eight or more hours, fighting boredom to make progress on his latest writing project.

“This is slowly destroying my body,” he says. “But I would rather write good stuff than be in good shape.”

Duhigg believes that working smarter largely revolves around the story you tell yourself about how you relate to the world. If your “mental model” dictates that you’re a disorganized wreck, then you may reinforce that behavior. But if you see yourself as a resilient goal-achiever, then you’ll exert the discipline to finish what you start.

In Duhigg’s case, he hits peak productivity when he’s fully examining the issue at hand. So he welcomes any influence that prods him to think more deeply, such as an editor who questions his thesis.

Duhigg, 41, creates an environment that minimizes distractions. He does not hang art around his desk. Although he sits near a window because he enjoys sunlight, his chair faces away from the outdoors.

He acknowledges that he’s “not particularly friendly to people who stop by,” but he reserves 30 minutes for socializing each afternoon. He eats lunch at his desk every day—the same delivered salad. And if he gets an email “and it’s not obvious why I should respond, I hit delete.”

— Adapted from “I’m Charles Duhigg, and This Is How I Work,” Tessa Miller, www.lifehacker.com.

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