The workplace seems like the last place where you’d expect to find any form of habitual behavior. However, just like in our personal lives, they vary, and transcend the mere basics like washing your mug every day, reviewing the morning paperwork, or keeping your productivity up for eight hours. Work habits range from politeness and socialization, to staying focused on a single task. And to ensure the best results, here are our tips on how to improve your work habits. Acquiring work habits can be difficult, as they didn’t have a lifetime to become automated in our daily lives. That is why we offer five simple tips that might help you out.
No matter what you choose as a habit to build, you need to start small. A lot of your current habits took years to turn into a kind of automatic behavior, with most of them hardwired into your brain without you even remembering how it happened. So in order to put new habits into place with active effort, you will have to start small. For example, if you want to stay more focused on a single task, try focusing on it for five minutes. Then, after a week (or when you feel you can), extend that time to ten minutes.
Merge the habits
Say that the new habit you want to put in place is to keep a cleaner desk. You want to stop seeing piled up papers and wrappers at the end of the day. What you can do is to use every bathroom break to pick up the scraps of trash and toss them on your way there. If you want to be more sociable with coworkers, use every water break, or visit to the copier to stop and exchange a few words with someone. Tying a new habit to one of your old ones can help maintain the cycle of its occurrence.
This goes for all those who feel like procrastination and difficulty focusing are habits that are hard to break. What you need is a sense of accountability for your work. Far-reaching deadlines are hardly going to keep you motivated on a daily basis. If possible, find a person: a colleague, or your team manager, to whom you will deliver daily reports. Knowing that your work performance depends on that end-of the day report will boost your focus. Also, keeping a to-do list, or a specific but simple checklist can go a long way. If possible, talk to the person reviewing your reports on a daily or a weekly basis, to see how well you are doing.
Organization has to be one of the most common ailments of the modern worker. From their desks and cubicles, to their offices, people tend to pile up things they don’t need. Old projects bulletin boards that they’re too busy to take down, broken down printers or piles upon piles of archives that are not a necessity right now. The habit of keeping your space clean starts with cleaning it out completely. If you have a problem giving up certain things that may be of use later, you can always look for some supercheap storage. Geelong, for example, has numerous storage offers where you can store whatever you feel could be necessary, without cluttering up your space.
Use a reward system
Lastly, employ any kind of a reward system. To truly motivate yourself, you need to know that after those ten minutes of hard focus, you will have five minutes of distractions. Or, after drinking the required goal amount of water for the day, you can treat yourself with something sweet, and so on. This part is crucial for the creation of a habit, as it hardwires your brain into linking the new behavior with some kind of gratification afterwards. Since no one gives pats on the back for achieving these small goals, a self-reward system is a perfect replacement for a positive affirmation.
The best possible way to observe and approach habits is to see it as a kind of behavior that needs practice. It is not about a person’s laziness or inability to perform or follow through with a habit. It all comes down to how the human brain works. Most people won’t form a new habit of working 30 minutes with an unrelenting focus from day one. It takes practice and reward. Get your colleagues in on the “project” and you’ll see how fast the habit sticks.