“The second half of a man's life is made up of nothing but the habits he has acquired during the first half.” Feodor Dostoevski
It is a well-established truth that the habits which we pick up unknowingly gradually grow upon us and may even dominate our lives. No wonder many communities believe in inculcating the best of habits in children from a young age. Whether it is brushing your teeth twice a day or being polite, human behavior is largely controlled by habit and not by choice. However, we also have habits, ways of doing things we not even really aware of, they are so automatic.
While common habits such as those that are an integral part of our daily routine may not affect our lives in a major way, the same cannot be said about habits at work.
If you do an honest and diligent analysis, you may find that although it seems simpler to blame your workplace, co-workers or boss, the true reason that inhibits your efforts to be productive or improve your productivity may be linked to your habits at work.
Are you really keen on developing time management skills to improve productivity at work? If you are serious about it then you need to do a quick check on some of the unproductive habits that you may not even be aware of. There are many work place habits that consume a major share of our productive time. D
o you have the tendency to keep checking your mailbox at regular intervals? Are you habitual of answering all messages and phone calls immediately irrespective of priorities? Do you find it difficult to stop a co-worker from an extended conversation? Have you picked up the habit of advising people on matters that do not directly relate to your work? If the answer to these questions is “yes”, then perhaps you should look at your habits if you wish to improve productivity and time-management at work and achieve your career goals.
While it is well known that old habits die hard, it is not impossible to kick off bad habits. The main issue is how committed you are to getting rid of your unproductive habit. Once you realize you’re your work place functioning has been largely acquired by the habits you have accumulated over time and not by choice, you have taken the first step to better manage your time. The next step is to really consider the long term benefits of stopping your old habit vis-à-vis the short term benefit of your following it. What is really at stake here if you continue as you do?
The most successful way to change habits is to work with the habit loop. First you need to identify the cue, what triggers your habits. Then you have the routine, what you do, your actions. This can be an emotion, a situation or environmental. Then you have the routine, and this can be emotional, physical or mental. Lastly you have the reward, the satisfaction. For example:
The cue: Arrive at work
The routine: Putting your bags down and heading straight for the coffee machine, cafeteria to chat with colleagues.
The reward: Connecting with people, feeling relaxed, not starting work until you want to, a caffeine high….there could be many.
We always do something because it gives us a reward, some kind of contentment. The best way to change a habit is to introduce a new routine. Something else that will give you the same kind of reward.
True that the odd gossip break or chatting over social media may appear tempting and even temporarily relaxing, but that is when you must stop to think – are you satisfied with your performance at work? Do you wish to change from the mediocre performer to a star achiever? How committed are you to actually changing your habits? Remember that habits make up 40% of your actions in a day and only 60% are real decisions.
Create habits that benefit you, eventually they will become automatic and the results will be outstanding. So the first step in letting go your old habit is to reboot your unconsciously programmed mind. It sure is challenging, but the rewards are tenfold! Your habits should be working for you, not against you!
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