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How I Used GTD to Build a Yoga Habit During Lock-down


The lockdown due to the ongoing pandemic has seen my routines go for a toss

  • No social meetings
  • No traveling
  • No chit-chat with gym buddies! 

Do you have a similar story to tell?

Like most of us, I too am working from home. Though, at the moment, life does not present a rosy picture, I’ve managed to get things moving. But one aspect that keeps me worried is my fitness.

Exercise made me feel fresh and rejuvenated. It gave me the physical and mental strength to course through the day. Earlier I was at the gym, in the evening, at least thrice a week. But gyms were the first ones to be out of bounds once the lockdown came into effect.

I could have done some exercises at home. But I couldn’t. Well, the word is “motivation.” It seemed I couldn’t motivate myself, it felt like a lot of trouble.

As days passed, I realized that this lockdown wasn’t going to end so soon. If I had to continue with my fitness regime, I had to seriously start thinking about developing a system to start my exercise routine.

Using GTD® to Build a Habit

That is when I used the GTD process to build an exercise program for myself. 

I asked myself two questions:

  • What is my desired outcome? 
  • What’s my next action?

Ideally, I could answer both of these easily by saying my desired outcome is to build an exercise habit and my next action would be to start exercising at 7 am every day for an hour. Wouldn’t that be what you would have done too?

However, I realized that answering these questions in such a simple way would not lead me to the desired outcome. Just having Exercising on my calendar is not going to motivate me to exercise.

Arriving at a new Next Action

To arrive at a more useful Next Action I asked myself some more questions:

  • How do I design my environment so that the next action becomes effortless & easy?
  • How can I get into a flow experience with my exercise?
  • How can I reward myself after completing the action so that I feel motivated to continue with the practice?

With these questions I got new thoughts and ideas to build up an exercise habit. 

Instead of starting with heavy exercises, I decided to start with yoga sessions. I felt that yoga is doable as compared to strength training. 

Next, I had to create an environment around myself that would make my next action effortless and easy.

We often think that change comes from within. We feel that achieving a goal is all about changing our attitude. There’s truth in that, but optimizing our environment also has a large impact on our actions. 

The key to optimizing my environment is to place a hurdle in the way of bad habits and remove barriers in the way of good habits. Here are two changes that I made

1. Decided to get myself a personal trainer

I knew I was not going to magically do Yoga every morning at 7 am. So I got myself a personal trainer from app. By paying and fixing an appointment with a trainer, I felt more accountable to show up and take advantage of the subscription. 

Not only that, a trainer gives me the right kind of exercise to balance between skill and challenge, allowing me to get into the flow experience.

Flow experience is achieved when a person functions at maximum potential with their attention so focused on the goal that factors like boredom and fatigue do not interfere; you may find the world around you to quieten due to the experience of enjoying the task.

2. Reward myself with coffee after the Yoga Session

After each session I make a cup of coffee for myself, as coffee is a mood booster for me, I used it as a reward.

When you’re building a new habit, giving yourself a reward at the end of the habit reinforces the behavior in your mind. It’ll motivate you to continue with the habit.

A simple thing as a cup of coffee was reward enough for me to get motivated.

Thinking through those questions I arrived at a new next action:

Signup with for a trial Yoga Class

Getting Clear on My Desired Outcome

Instead of a desired outcome like Build an exercise habit. I decided to get more specific and reframe it so that it’s aspirational and feels achievable.

So I changed it to:

Complete 20 sessions of Yoga with

Looking at this outcome was more motivating as it had a clear end goal which I found achievable.

Here’s the before and after:

Next ActionExercise 7am everyday for an hourSignup for a practice Yoga session with  
Desired OutcomeBuild an exercise habitComplete 20 Sessions of Yoga with  

Did it work?

Yes it did! As of writing this post I’ve completed 50+ Yoga sessions. Here are some pics:

With regular practice, Yoga sessions has now become part of my routine.

GTD is not just about completing tasks and projects. You can even use it to build habits.

Taking simple steps, building in accountability, rewarding myself after the habit, having a clear and motivating goal got me to build this habit with GTD. I hope you try it too!

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