Blog - Easy ways to form good work habits

Christchurch city street scene by tramline and kinetic heart sculptureWhy do we need to worry about our workplace habits? Well, whether good or bad, habits form a huge part of our lives, they are something we often do unconsciously, and which shape nearly 50% of our lives.

I‘ve often noticed in workplaces is how easy it is for many of us – myself included – to get out of the habit of pausing for lunch, unless we have a particular reason, such as running an errand or meeting a friend. Yet most of us know, (and many people I see tell me this) that we feel so much better if we stop, down tools and go out for a walk at lunchtime.

Sadly though, all too often, the pressure of work takes over and we lose that momentum.

3 basic steps for change

At WorkSpace IQ, we are continually advising people at work in fact how important it is to build breaks into your day. This might sound easier said than done, but popular consensus among behavioural scientists is that forming any habit can be broken down into a basic 3-step process that works on the basis of reminder, routine and reward.

So, what might this 3-step process look like in your workplace?

The reminder

The reminder is that it is lunchtime. If necessary, you set a reminder in your calendar to remind you of this, which means that it’s time to take a break outside.

The routine

The routine action you take is that you stop working, put on your walking shoes, step away from your workstation, grab a jacket if necessary and get out that door!

The reward

The reward is that you have had a change of scene, are feeling refreshed when you return, have better circulation, a good dose of vitamin C and renewed energy.

You can of course, identify these three steps when you look at bad habits too.

For example the clock on your computer reminds you that it is lunchtime, however, since the weather got a bit cooler, you have got into the routine of sitting at your desk to eat lunch. The reward is that you got a bit more work done, or caught up on your Facebook posts, but on the downside, you’re feeling a bit stiffer by the end of the day, are yawning by about 3pm, and around the same time, your work productivity reduces markedly. Sound familiar?

How can you form new habits?

Getting into action to create a new habit can be challenging and even more so to maintain – think of our new year’s resolutions, where very few (about 9%) end up being acted on.

So when Genista – my new work colleague -, came along to our latest assessment of a large workplace with some ‘Habit sticks’, I was intrigued. These sticks (like ice block sticks) have a space to write down what your habit will be on one side, and a space on the other side to tick when you have achieved that habit. Although this sounds a very simple and insignificant thing to do, physically acknowledging that you have managed to form your habit is very powerful. And I have been amazed at the positive response from people in workplaces to using the habit stick.

If you would like to fire yourself and your work colleagues up creating some healthy habits at work, here are some handy tips from one of my favourite organisations, the Allright team, based here in Christchurch.

  1. Start small – make it an achievable habit
  2. Make it something you do every day
  3. Schedule it in to your day – that gives it some importance
  4. Pair it up with something else you enjoy doing
  5. Monitor your habit – using the tick list on the back of your habit stick is a great way to do this
  6. Make it easy to do your habit e.g. if you want to drink more water, keep a glass on your desk
  7. Plan for slip ups – life happens, but if it’s too wet to walk today, make sure you have an umbrella and raincoat for tomorrow. A bit of rain never hurt!
  8. Know your loopholes, those things you say to yourself to justify not taking action. Make sure you think around how reasonable this actually is to achieving your end healthy goal
  9. Strengthen your foundation – look after yourself both physically and mentally with good sleep, food, friends
  10. Find out what works for you – do what you know you will enjoy doing and feel all the better for it. Remember, forming a new habit takes time, so reward yourself when you achieve your goals.

Remember, when you’re changing your behaviour, either at home or at work, it’s likely to be challenging, so visit the Allright website for some more tips and tricks. And if you think there are some good habits you would like to form in your workplace, contact us and we’ll be happy to come and discuss your situation and your goals, explore some ideas, and give you some practical advice.

But most importantly, whatever it is you want to change, just give it a go, think big or small, and have some fun!