If you’ve ever tried to break a bad habit, you’ll be able to relate to the power that habits have over us on a day to day basis. Whether you realise it or not, our lives are full of habits, good and bad. From getting up in the morning, brushing our teeth, checking our emails, driving to work etc., our brains are incredibly efficient at creating automation, and making it so we no longer do these activities consciously … so it’s no wonder these habits are so hard to break!
I’m sure during the pandemic we have all created a bad habit or 3, like one too many trips to the fridge, or watching too much Netflix. So, if you are keen to break some of those habits, then I would highly recommend reading a book called Atomic Habits by James Clear. He has sold over 3 million copies of this book worldwide, and it’s a New York Times number 1 bestseller.
This book offers the “do’s and don’ts” for creating new, helpful habits and breaking old, unhelpful ones. It is jam packed full of practical and directional advice. They key message is, if you want to make some changes to your life, you need to make small changes each day. As James Clear himself says:
”If you were able to improve by 1% each day for an entire year and those gains compound, you would end up 37 times better at the end of the year.”
Below are 6 manageable ‘Atomic Habits’ you can adapt and incorporate in your day to day life, and that will make a big difference to your performance:
1. Prepare your day the night before
By preparing the night before, you will feel so much better when you go to bed, knowing that everything is organised for the next day. You’ll also feel a lot calmer in the morning when you are getting ready for the day ahead. So in the evening, check what meetings you have the next day, make sure you have what you need, organise your lunch, and make sure your bag is ready to go.
2. Write down your thoughts
Our minds can become cluttered with all the things we need to remember and do. If you have meetings to prepare for, or you need to remember to pick something up on your way home etc., make sure you write it all down. Studies have shown that getting things out of your head and onto paper really reduces anxiety and helps us feel more in control. This is a particularly good exercise to practice before bed, as by decluttering the mind, you will feel more relaxed, and actually sleep better.
3. Delay your responses
When we receive emails and calls, we are often all too eager to respond and get the issue out of the way and dealt with. However, this can lead to making hasty decisions, and committing to things we may not have time for. There is nothing wrong in delaying your response with a reply that will buy you some thinking time. You can say, “I will look into that”, or “I’ll check my calendar and get back to you”. As long as your initial reply is timely, this will allow you to check your workload and rethink your priorities, to see if you can make it work. This delay really helps avoid unnecessary pressure and stress of taking on too much, or double booking yourself.
4. Put the phone away
The constant ping of messages, notifications, updates etc is so distracting. Studies show that, on average, after checking our phones it takes 23 minutes to get back on track with what we were doing. It is increasingly becoming an addiction to check messages or scroll through social media. There are even apps available to provide time limits for your mindless browsing! Just think of the difference it would make to your productivity if you reduced your mobile phone usage each day. How about giving yourself a specific time and time limit to check in, and then after that lock your phone away in your desk or bag.
5. Review the day
Take 5 minutes at the end of your working day to review how things have gone. Write down the things you accomplished, and the things you didn’t. Focus on the positives, but also note the reasons you didn’t achieve something, and assess whether, if you’d done things differently, that would have made an impact on the end result.
6. Read more
I am a great believer in self-development and staying curious. All the big thinkers in the world are readers, from Bill Gates to Oprah Winfrey. By committing to reading for just 15 minutes a day, you can significantly increase your knowledge, and skills. If you aren’t a big fan of books, why not try podcasts and audiobooks, as you can listen to these whilst in the car or gym.
Perhaps you could join a business book club to help you with the reading habit. In fact, why not join mine? My BookCLUB runs on the last Friday of every month. Check out the next one (and our other great training events) here: EVENTS
Try making some of these changes to your daily routines, and see the impact they can have on changing your life for the better. It’s time to take action, break those bad habits and make some better ones!