‘Hav­ing time to men­tally pre­pare for the day cre­ates a calm­ness’

Yorkshire Post - Business - - FRONT PAGE - Rashmi Dubé

Habits can be pow­er­ful. My be­hav­iour to write is al­ways the same, whether it is my weekly col­umn, blog or book. I wake up, shower etc. have a cof­fee and crois­sant, and start writ­ing on a Sun­day morn­ing. This is what I would call a new habit which has re­placed read­ing the news­pa­pers first.

The def­i­ni­tion of a habit ac­cord­ing to the on­line Cam­bridge Dic­tionary is “some­thing that you do of­ten and reg­u­larly, some­times with­out know­ing that you are do­ing it: I al­ways buy the same brand of tooth­paste out of (= be­cause of ) habit.”

It is Septem­ber and a lot us work on what I call the school clock. Chil­dren are re­turn­ing back to school; we have all had our breaks in some form or other, and our body clocks and rou­tines have slipped. Rou­tines are noth­ing but habits. We have all been told or have heard that good habits are hard to form, and bad habits en­ter our lives eas­ily. So why is it so hard to change our habits and what habits are good to have in the con­text of busi­ness?

I al­ways feel Septem­ber is a good month to eval­u­ate our own be­hav­iour pat­terns, with a re-eval­u­a­tion in De­cem­ber. My start­ing points are:

1. In what di­rec­tion do I want the com­pany/busi­ness to head?

Hav­ing a clear di­rec­tion with val­ues and a mis­sion state­ment helps keep me fo­cused on what ac­tions I need to take.

2. I then also ap­ply this to me per­son­ally – where do I want to be?

Un­der­stand­ing what you want is equally im­por­tant, as is en­sur­ing that this is com­pat­i­ble with the di­rec­tion for the busi­ness.

By hav­ing goals, this al­lows you to un­der­stand what sys­tems you need in place in or­der to achieve your end re­sult. The habits you put in place should help you in terms of es­tab­lish­ing what makes you suc­cess­ful.

Note in the def­i­ni­tion above that habits are not al­ways some­thing that are done daily but, rather, reg­u­larly.

In his book The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg has a model that he says ex­ists in or­der to form a habit. A habit has to com­prise of three com­po­nents:

1. A Cue

2. An Ac­tion, which be­comes rou­tine/a habit, fol­lowed by a

3. A Re­ward

Un­der­stand­ing the ac­tions (habits) you want to take is cru­cial. A cue is some­thing that helps trig­ger a habit. A case study by Ju­dah, G., Gard­ner, B., & Aunger, R. (2013) looked into the psy­cho­log­i­cal de­ter­mi­nants of habit for­ma­tion in terms of floss­ing. Bri­tish Jour­nal of Health

Psy­chol­ogy, 18, 338-353.

They took two sets of peo­ple, with one group be­ing asked to floss im­me­di­ately be­fore brush­ing, the other im­me­di­ately af­ter. They con­cluded that those who flossed af­ter brush­ing had stronger floss­ing habits. This was be­cause they had a cue, brush­ing, which made it eas­ier to re­mem­ber to floss, and af­ter a while the as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween floss­ing and brush­ing was forged. The re­ward was health­ier teeth and gums.

The case study also es­tab­lished that in a chain of be­hav­iours, adding a new ac­tion al­lows you to cre­ate a new habit. Find your chains that you al­ready have and add a new ac­tion to the end of them. For ex­am­ple, a lot of us check out so­cial me­dia at some point in the morn­ing. If you don’t al­ready, add a news app to your phone and get up­dated on busi­ness news as well. That is how easy it can be. It will even­tu­ally be that you are check­ing the app with­out thought.

In some in­stances, you need to change your en­vi­ron­ment to help cre­ate the new habi­tat. But when all is said and done, just how long does it take to form a habit? The an­swer is an ed­u­cated guess. It de­pends on the habit you are cre­at­ing. The gen­eral con­sen­sus is any­where be­tween 18 to 254 days. So, keep­ing at it is the key.

Top habits for busi­ness peo­ple are: 1. Wake up early. Start by set­ting your alarm 15 min­utes ear­lier. It is not easy if you have the chil­dren in the morn­ing and are do­ing a school run. How­ever, al­low­ing your mind that lit­tle ex­tra time will help you set up for the day. Be­fore you do any­thing, use it to cre­ate a mind­ful space.

If you don’t have to do a school run, use that time to ar­rive slightly ear­lier in the of­fice. Hav­ing time to men­tally pre­pare for the day cre­ates a calm­ness within.

It also pre­vents you from feel­ing you are on the back foot hav­ing to re­spond to ques­tions/ queries as soon as you walk in. Keep ad­just­ing your alarm by 15 min­utes weekly un­til you are wak­ing up an hour ear­lier. You will find you are much more pro­duc­tive.

Ac­tion: set the alarm 15 min­utes ear­lier per week un­til it com­pletes an hour.

2. Exercise. Even if you only do 10,000 steps a day. Do­ing some form of exercise keeps you fit and al­lows your mind to re­lax.

Ac­tion: Take a 20-minute walk in the morn­ing or evening and again at lunchtime.

3. Per­sonal time. Spend­ing time in your own com­pany or with fam­ily is im­por­tant. It helps with recharg­ing, re­fu­elling and keep­ing an eye on what is re­ally im­por­tant in your life.

Ac­tion: En­sure you have week­end plans with fam­ily and friends. Get them in the di­ary.

4. In­vest in you. Up­date your­self in terms of busi­ness news in your outer sphere and learn about new tech­nol­ogy. Keep­ing your­self abreast of what is hap­pen­ing in the busi­ness world gen­er­ally will al­low you to see more op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Ac­tion: Read the busi­ness news on an app in the morn­ing. Read a busi­ness book – a chap­ter or as much as you can on a night.

Like any­thing in busi­ness your at­ti­tude plays a strong part in how you do things. The Greek philoso­pher Aris­to­tle said ‘We are what we re­peat­edly do. Ex­cel­lence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Stay in the game and ex­cel by re­view­ing your habits!

Stay in the game and ex­cel by re­view­ing your habits!

READ ALL ABOUT IT:Add a news app to your phone and get up­dated on busi­ness news as well.

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