As humans we are creatures of habit. I may be more habitual than most as I am someone that places a lot of emphasis on control and order. In short, I like to know what to expect.
For example: I wake up at the same time each morning, but then I hit snooze so I can rest for 5 more minutes. As I’m getting ready for work I am always tuned into Good Morning America, and then right before leaving I take my four-legged pup Kirby for a walk around the block.
As a marketer I have always been someone that is very interested in understanding why people make certain choices, how much of it is really within their control, and ways to train your brain to think differently. I recently read the book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life And Business by Charles Duhigg, which helped answered some of these questions for me.
It is much easier to fall into bad habits than it is to begin actively creating good habits in life and at work. If you are ready to begin understanding (or acknowledging) what your bad habits are, and want to learn how to make new ones I have 5 tips to help you start on your journey.
Tip 1 – Be Honest With Yourself
Identifying your good habits, is just as important as recognizing those that are less than favorable. If you can pinpoint what your motivation is for the good habits you have, you can begin working that positive association into altering your bad habits.
If you have a particularly difficult task that you dread doing and often put off until the end of the day, do it first thing in the morning. Get the task out of the way and reward yourself with a 5-minute mental break or extra long gaze out the office window (whatever motivates you to continue making that choice) .
Even though this may be something as small as setting up your meetings for the week, responding to team emails, or scheduling social media posts for the day you’ll have a much greater sense of accomplishment if you get it off of your plate right away.
Tip 2 – Old Habits Die Hard
I’m sure this is an expression that we’ve all heard, if not said. You cannot change habits overnight, it takes time and effort. We may even need to remind ourselves on a daily basis for a while that we should not be falling into our old ways.
I for example obsessively check my email. I have found that the amount of focus I can direct towards actual marketing activities is greatly decreased when I’m checking email every five minutes.
Unless I’m expecting a very important communication I will only check my email during certain points throughout the day. I have setup calendar reminders that prompt me to check in and see what I’ve received. But other than during those allotted times I make sure I keep the window closed.
Tip 3 – Don’t Try To Make Too Many Changes At Once
There have been a few times that I have tried to drastically alter the way that I organize my work-day and have been met with what I consider to be less than ideal, and nerve-wracking results.
If you can focus on changing one habit at a time, your chances for success are much greater. Small habits you can begin changing today might include:
- Getting to work 10 minutes earlier than usual for the next week
- Organizing your tasks for the next day before leaving work
- Talking a short walk during lunch time to clear your head
- Trading that tempting donut for better brain food like a piece of fruit
Tip 4 – Cut Out Bad Outside Influences
We are influenced positively and negatively by those we spend time with. So, if you are spending time with people that have many of the same negative habits as yourself, it’s time for a change. Once you’ve discovered how to make the change yourself it is perfectly fine (and encouraged) to share with your team members how you turned a bad habit into a good one, and tips for them to do so as well.
Tip 5 – Wash, Rinse, Repeat, Adapt
The more you focus on changing your habits in a consistent way, the better your results will be. After you’ve begun to notice a positive difference in the new habits you are forming, it’s time to apply the same logic outside of yourself.
- Is the way that you’re interacting with your customers and prospects affected by other bad habits?
- How much are these bad habits costing your company in productivity/dollars?
- What can you do to better connect with them by changing these habits?
- Can you help other team members become more productive by encouraging them to change habits?
Below are some helpful tips to get you started:
- Pinpoint three things that motivate you. An example might be positive reinforcement from your boss or a co-worker
- Identify your bad habits. Maybe you spend too much time on Facebook during the day and want to improve your focus.
- If you could change one habit immediately, what would it be? (feel free to leave your answer in the comments below)
Image provided via Shutterstock.