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