At one of my recent events, a lady in the audience asked a good question;
How do you get back on track when you get out of the habit of your good habits?
I’m sure it has happened to you in the past. You create a new habit, you are motivated, excited and all is going well. Until… you get sick, you go on holidays or some other event in life gets in the way.
What to do next?
First things first, forgive yourself. In my experience, the moment I let go of my disappointment and frustration was the moment I was able to move forward and focus positively on what I wanted to achieve. Negative emotions about what you should have done and could have done serve you no purpose. These negative thoughts and emotions will not help you to make any progress in life. Leave the past in the past and focus on the future.
It’s not All or Nothing
One reason people often fail at habits is because they set their standards too high. If you have a healthy habit of eating and you over indulge at a party, all is not lost. It’s better to eat right 80% of the time than giving in and not doing it at all. In life it’s good to set high standards for yourself but not to the extreme that it sabotages your success. Remember to forgive yourself and move forward. This all or nothing mentality is not a healthy mindset. Its ok to mess up every now and again, to overeat to skip an exercise session or to spend a little more than planned. Accept the glitch in the plan and commit to starting again.
If you have missed a couple of weeks or months of your good habits don’t try too much too soon. Jumping back into an hour at the gym might be too much to hope for. If you normally run for a half an hour, commit to doing it for ten minutes. Start small and make it too easy to say no. Start small and create the momentum to continue.
Remember Your Why
When you stop practising your habit you may forget why you commit to it in the first place. Connect back with your why. What are the benefits in practising this habit? How did you feel when you accomplished it? What were the rewards of this habit? If you want to feel motivated to get back on track, understand where the initial desire came from and make sure you feel the joy of already having mastered the habit.
Remember not to try to do more than one thing at a time. If you have gone off track with all your good habits start back with one at a time. It won’t take you as long as it did the first time to create these habits. Each habit you create, strengthens the neural pathways in the brain . When you stop practising they don’t disappear immediately so all the hard work you did was not for nothing. When you start to practise once again you will find you create the habit more quickly.
Observe Your Thoughts
Most importantly monitor your thoughts, observe what’s going on in your mind. What dialogue could be preventing you form taking action and moving forward? If there are negative disempowering thoughts replace them with the positive sort. Speak to yourself with love and encouragement. You can do this, you are strong, you are powerful, you’ve got this.
If you would like to find out more about How to Create Positive Lasting habits, my new book Rise Before Your Bull and other Habits of Successful People outlines The Habit Method a simple way to create positive habits that will help you get your goals and contribute to your happiness and success.
For many years I have been a goal setter. I love having a challenge, something to work towards.
Thing is, I always seemed to be successful in some goals and not others. I tried to figure out what the difference was, was I not being specific enough? Was I being too specific? I finally realised that the goals I had success with, were usually the goals that I had created lasting habits to achieve.
Writing my books required the habit of writing. Becoming calmer required the habit of daily meditation and bringing more joy into my life was a result of a habit of gratitude.
From drinking more water to cleaning the kitchen after dinner, most tasks that we do each day can be classified as habits. Habitual actions that we carry out each day, these habits are submit to our subconscious mind to automate. This means that your conscious mind no longer has to think and plan what you need to do.
Life becomes easier when habits are created. When we do things on auto pilot we don’t give ourselves time to debate or challenge the way it is. We must go to work each day, have lunch, dinner and go to bed. These are some of the habits we have that we don’t even question. Some of you will have positive habits of exercise, meditation or eating well. Some of you will have negative habits of smoking, over eating or excessive drinking.
The Common approach to creating new habits is to follow some sort of a process.
The Habit Loop
In Charles Duhig, book the Power of Habit he describes the Habit Loop. Based on research done at MIT, The Habit loop consists of a cue, a routine and a reward, the component parts of a habit. The habit of brushing your teeth consists of the cue, tooth film, the routine, brushing your teeth and the reward, a tingling fresh sensation in your mouth.
Duhigg claims that by understanding and tapping into the habit loop we can create our habits more effortlessly.
The unhealthy habit of checking emails hundreds of times a day, first started with the ping. The cue of the email alert initiated a routine of checking email and the reward? Maybe it was some pleasant news in an email or the simple distraction from work that it brings is enough to keep us going there. Removing the alert interrupts the habit loop but for some the addiction continues. The cue may now be every time you crave a break from your work you go check to see what new interesting emails are cluttering up your inbox.
By breaking down the individual parts of a habit, we can think more consciously about what the habit consists of and make more positive choices for creating the new habit.
A cue is a trigger, something that you do every day that you can associate with a new habit to encourage you to complete your new habit. By linking your habit to a trigger it will help you to remember to carry out your daily routine.
If you want to start meditating, get up in the morning, use the bathroom and then start your meditation. Going to the bathroom is your trigger. Something that you do every morning, once it is done your brain knows it is time to start meditating.
If you want to drink more water, every time you go to the bathroom go fill up your glass on the way back. The bathroom can trigger the habit of filling up your glass.
If you want to start running in the morning, prepare your running gear the night before and put it beside the bed. Your trigger for the morning is all of your gear ready to go.
You can create any trigger you want but linking your new habit to a trigger will minimise the resistance to carry it out. Once you have decided on your routine and your trigger, you need to think about the reward.
The routine is the habit itself, running, eating healthy, writing, playing guitar, anything that is a repetitive behaviour that will help you towards reaching your goals.
Some habits give natural rewards in the form increases happy chemicals in the brain from exercise, or the natural weight loss that will occur. But in order for the habit reward to work, the reward must be instant and enough to stimulate you into repeating the action again and again. Rewards can be physical, they can be emotional or they can be little treats such as a cup of coffee or a nice breakfast after your workout.
Whatever the reward your brain must crave the reward. If you get to the stage where craving occurs you have clinched it.
It is the craving that drives our behaviour.
Runners crave the endorphin rush they get from running. I have seen friends get anxious before their nightly run. Incapable of relaxing until they get their craved reward, endorphins. We have learnt to crave the fresh feeling of mint on our breath after brushing our teeth. We crave the distraction of an email or tweet and we pine for the relaxation from the glass of wine on a Friday evening. All of these habits occur because of the reward yearned.
If you can create a cue, and identify a reward that will be satisfying enough, it will be easier to form a new habit.
But there is more to creating a new habit than the habit loop.
If you want to really master a new habit there are other factors you must take into account.
The Habit Method
The Habit Method takes in the different component parts of habit creation. If you have tried and failed before at habit creation it is probably because you have not considered one or more areas in The Habit Method
The first and possibly the most important component of habit creation is desire. You must have a burning need to create the new habit and understand why you want it. What is the goal that you long to reach and why is it so important in your life? Without true desire you will be weak when the going gets tough. Your desire is what will fuel the fire when the light is burning low.
Making the decision to move forward will carry your desire from thought towards action. When you decide that you are going to do something you must make a commitment. Move away from half-hearted decisions and promise yourself that you are going to do what it takes in order to get the goals that you want. Having clarity around what you want and making sure that it’s your priority right now will propel you forward towards success.
Once you know what you want and you have committed to getting it you need to make a plan. This is the part the involves the habit loop, what will be your trigger and your reward. But more than this is required in the design phase. Spending time in advance to get clear about the how, where, what and when will leave less chances for opting out. How are you going to achieve this? What do you need to get going? Who will support you? Thinking through the plan in advance and having tools and techniques will help you move into action.
Although we now know that habit formation is not just about willpower and discipline, the latter always plays an important role. When you make your commitment, you must have the discipline to follow through. Until your habit becomes second nature, it will be necessary to rely on discipline to help you establish the new routines. Once the habit has been formed there will still be days and times when you don’t feel like it or you are too busy. There will also be times when you are sick and fall out of the habit.
Often we fail to acknowledge the role the environment plays in creating a habit. It influences our state of mind and our state of being. Some environments will be harsher than others and your habit will need to be created accordingly. A challenging environment is not an excuse to opt out or to give up, a challenging environment needs more planning and adaptation. A little bit more creative design and discipline may be required to ensure your actions lead you to success. You will need to fill your cupboards with healthy foods if you wish to start eating healthy, if your environment is filled with sweet treats, chances of you succeeding will be substantially reduced.
If you are interested in delving more deeply into The Habit Method and using The Habit Canvas to plan your new habits. Watch out for my new book Rise Before Your Bull and Other Habits of Successful People available mid January.
In a recent talk I did, one of the audience asked me the following “Ciara, what habits do the successful leaders you coach have?”
The answer I gave her is what you would expect, that most successful leaders have a couple of powerful habits that help them to maintain their energy, their focus and their motivation. These habits are the habit of exercise, the habit of meditation and the habit of staying organised.
The Habit of Exercise
The habit of Exercise helps to give them energy. It improves focus and concentration. It uplifts the mood and usually makes people feel more in control of their lives. Exercise is a keystone habit and generally acts as a catalyst to other positive habits, so its one not to be overlooked. Check out these 7 tips to help you start the habit of Exercise
The Habit of Meditation
Meditation promotes a sense of wellbeing. It usually brings with it clarity, focus and calm. Three attributes any aspiring leader would cry out for.
The Habit of Staying Organised
Staying organised helps leaders maintain a feeling of control. It helps them to plan and prioritise their work and avoids overwhelm and stress. Staying organised by planning your week in your calendar, maintaining a task list and keeping your inbox under control will ensure that you keep stress away and overwhelm at a distance.
Time and time again I see an obvious gap between performance and high performance and that gap can be filled with one or all of those three habits. But there is another habit that I forgot to mention that night and it is one that not only has the capacity to elevate teams and organisations but is one that the world needs to help heal our planet.
The Habit of Kindness.
Kindness is too often overlooked as being a weak trait and not one to be associated with powerful leaders. Powerful leaders need to get things done, they need to set the pace and drive towards results. We now know that this form of leadership only gets results in certain situations and does not give good results over the long term. In a lot of organisations the heavy handed approach is what is rewarded, it’s rewards because it usually gets us results in task. What it doesn’t take into account is the lack of engagement, possible absenteeism and high staff turnover it initiates.
What about the behaviours that uplift, support and inspire a person to do their best? Human beings want recognition, to know that they are valued and loved so why not treat them with respect and encouragement and see the loyalty that you will earn as a result.
Don’t be fooled when I speak about kindness, and know that it does not mean shifting focus away from results. Neither does it mean avoiding accountability nor allowing people to do as they wish. Kindness means acknowledging the person in front of you, listening, respecting and encouraging. Helping when help is needed and pushing when a push is needed.
This type of kindness is a habit that a lot of great leaders possess and one that will earn you respect and followers into the future.
Whether you’re a writer by trade or you write as a hobby, you’re sure to have come across the following problem: you want to work on your novel, write content for your job, or even just send out a few e-mails. You’re motivated and ready to work, but you just can’t seem to get started. You’re not alone! Every seasoned writer has experienced this frustration,but creating a productive writing environment for writerscan help immensely.
If you’ve been wondering how to create a productive writing environment to better achieve your goals, try the following tips:
Dedicate a space in your home just for writing
If you can manage it, you might like to create your own writing room or nook. When it comes to self-motivation, it’s best to be consistent; you want your brain to register that when you walk into a room or space, it’s time to work.If you’re unable to dedicate a room just for writing, you can work in another room in your home. Again, consistency is key – when you need to write, use this room exclusively.
Tidy your writing area
Wherever you plan on writing should be free of clutter. As the saying goes, tidy room, tidy mind! It can be hard to feel motivated and calm when you’re in a messy environment, so ensure you put things in their proper place; you’ll feel much better for it. You might also like to decorate your space with objects that make you feel motivated or inspired, such as stationery or posters.
Find your focus, and make sure you’re comfortable
Do whatever you need to do to put you in the right state of mind for writing. Perhaps you need to warm up by playing word games, or perhaps meditating helps you to feel focused and ready to work. Additionally, wherever you write should be comfortable; you might like to invest in a quality office chair or an ergonomic keyboard. Consider also the temperature in your room and set it to your liking before you begin, or install a set of window blinds so that you have total control over the amount of light coming into the room. Ensuring that you’re comfortable will mean that you’re less likely to have to break your focus to change something in your environment.
Stay away from distractions
For many writers, this will mean forgoing writing in the home entirely. With all of the entertainment you could ever require at your fingertips, plus the allure of the fridge or that seventh cup of coffee, it can be difficult to get anything done.Productivity can vary a lot by location, so if you’re consistently distracted by your environment, you might need to move elsewhere to work.
If you’re the type of person who can thrive in a noisy environment, try heading to your local café and allocating yourself a set amount of time to stay there. If you can’t focus with the sounds of conversation around you, try a library. There’s no single best place to write that will work for everyone; try a few different places,and you’ll soon figure out where you’re getting the most work done.
The internet, perhaps the biggest distraction of all, shouldn’t be used during a writing session unless you need it for research. If this is the case, set yourself an amount of time to research and then refrain from using the internet while you write. Try installing an app on your browser that will disable internet access for a predetermined amount of time, or at the very least, disable your most distracting sites.
Listen to music or sounds that help you to focus
Create yourself a playlist chock-full of songs that will help you to concentrate, or have a look for a pre-existing one online. Perhaps you focus well while listening to house music, or maybe you’re more of a classical music fan.What works well for one writer may not work at all for the next; the key is to figure out what helps you to personally focus, so sample a few genres of music while you write. In general, it’s best to avoid music with lyrics, as your brain tends to actively listen to lyrics rather than registering them as background noise.
If music is too distracting for you, as it is for many writers, try listening to ambient sounds. There are plenty of resources on the web; you might like to listen to sounds that simulate being in a café, near the ocean, or inside while it’s raining heavily.Just be careful you don’t let yourself relax too much and fall asleep!
The best conditions for writing will vary between writers, but following the above tips will help you to discover what your ideal conditions are. Now that you have an idea of what will help you be as productive as possible,get working on creating the best atmosphere for writing that you possibly can!
Music by StockSnap via Pixabay.com under CC0 Creative Commons
Johanna Cider is a freelance writer from Auckland, New Zealand. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge and experiences with others through her writing. You can check more of her articles in her Tumblr.
Decision Making is one of the most important skills of a good leader. Some believe it is an innate skill, you are either good at it or you aren’t. While it may be true that it does come more naturally to some, it is a skill that can be learnt. While both time and experience do play a factor, learning how to think and understanding some of the techniques and tools of problem solving could get you there quicker.
Avoiding Decision Fatigue
Start by avoiding decision fatigue. Decision fatigue is a real phenomenon that most leaders suffer from. Ever stand in the supermarket after work and can’t make your mind up over chicken or steak, red or white, vanilla or chocolate? President Obama was known to wear the same colour suits and eat the same menu daily. “I don’t want to make decisions about what I am eating or what I am wearing as I have too many important decisions to make” He understood the cognitive load each decision takes and the limited capacity of the human brain, therefore he decided not to waste any of this processing power on futile decision making.
In one particular study, researchers looked at more than 1,100 parole hearing decisions made by judges in the U.S. What they found was that the time their case was heard was more influential in the outcome than the crime itself or the person’s background. The earlier in the day the case was heard the more likely parole would be granted. The mental work of ruling on case after case wears the decision maker down and the choices you make later in the day become more difficult. The more decisions you need to make during the day, the worse you’re going to be at weighing all the options and making an informed choice by the end of the day.
While its best to make your most important decisions earlier in the day sometimes you don’t have a choice. You may have to delve deeper and employ some different modes of thinking or use one of the problem solving tools below to help you make better decisions.
Modes of Thinking
Starting with the most basic and one I’m sure we have all used in our personal as well as our professional life is the pros and cons approach. Listing the advantages of moving forward with a particular decision and the disadvantages of moving forward. This can be expanded into inverse thinking mode and you can list the advantages of not moving forward and the disadvantages of not moving forward. Sometimes we get stuck in a particular thinking mode and we don’t see the inverse scenario as being just as important to contemplate.
This leads onto scenario thinking. Scenario planning is a technique used in strategic planning. When we don’t know what the future holds it is difficult to make decisions but if we project ourselves into the future with a couple of possible stories of what the future will bring it allows us to plan for these alternative realities. When doing so we encourage our brain to think of eventualities we may not have previously thought of leading us to expand the reach of our traditional decision making process.
Convergent & Divergent Thinking
Traditionally convergent thinking was looked upon with some negativity. Uncreative people working with the limited options that they already have and choosing between them. But we now realise that the best decisions are made using both models of thinking. With most decision making we start with divergent thinking, we brainstorm ideas, look at scenarios and eventualities. The more creative and wider we explore possibilities we give ourselves more options from which to find our solution. Convergent thinking is when we narrow our options we start to hone in the logic. We can sort our ideas into different categories and reduce the ideas that will be most likely to solve our problem.
Critical thinking is a skill that we assume most good leaders have, the ability to assess all the facts and see the potential where others see none. Here’s what is expected of a critical thinker. They must question assumptions. They don’t go with the obvious but question what’s behind each decision. They look at different perspectives. Working in a cultural and gender diverse workforce helps us to look at problems and solutions from many different angles. Different people have different perspectives. Critical Thinkers see potential. They know to look at problems and challenges as opportunities rather than problems.
Your Thinking Style
In the HBR article What kind of Thinker are you? Mark Bonchek and Elisa Steele identify eight different types of thinkers. On the X axis is your Focus, whether you favour Ideas, Process, Action or Relationships. On the Y axis is your Orientation, are you Big Picture orientated or Detailed?
They suggest that when you know your thinking style, you will understand what naturally energizes you and why certain types of problems are more challenging or more boring for you. If we can understand how we naturally think, for example some people are big picture and relationship orientated we will be more aware of the areas that we are less inclined to focus on to solve particular problems.
Problem Solving Models
A decision Tree is a way to explore different options and each option has different options to explore. A decision tree can help clarify the different choices, risks, objectives involved in any decision. It gives us another way to take the emotions out of decision making and take a look at the all the options available. The tree branches can continue to grow until you have analysed all of the options and all of the potential outcomes of that option. One of the advantages of this model is that you can see all options in the same place at the same time allowing for more enlightened decision making.
The Pareto Analysis uses the Pareto Principle for problem solving. The Pareto Principle suggests that 20% of causes generate 80% of results. Sales Executives use the principle when thinking about their clients and products. Apparently 20% of customers will give you 80% of your revenue or it could be 20% of your products that amounts to 80% of revenue. The figure is not exact, the phenomenon will often appear as a 15/85 or a 30/70 split. The Pareto Principle can help with focus and Productivity also ensuring you are focusing your attention on the 20% work that is giving you 80% of your results.
With a Pareto analysis you start by identifying a number of problems. You need to get to the root cause of these problems by using information gathering techniques, such as brainstorming or the 5 Whys (see below)
Take for example customer complaints. You know some of the causes of customers complaints but you don’t have the resources to tackle all reasons so you want to focus on what’s causing the most amounts of complaints.
It could be lack of training or absenteeism. By doing a Pareto analysis you can score all of the causes and focus on the one that will give you the biggest return on your investment.
In reality these tools only give one part of what is needed when making a decision; data but data is not everything. Of course having the data can help you to make an informed decision when the time comes but there are other factors involved.
Experience of course has a large part to play when it comes to making good decisions. The more good decisions you have made in the past can give you confidence to continue to make similar decisions. Bad decisions can also help as we know that we often learn more from failure than success. So when it comes to decision making the more you have under your belt the better.
Some Leaders will cite their success on their ability to listen to their gut, others give no weight to this decision making method. While gut can play a part we need to back up our gut instinct with data. Many companies make bad decisions in the interviewing process because the interviewer tends to choose the candidate that they like the best, the one most like them. This is not necessarily the best person for the job or the company. When gut instinct is backed up with solid data it can be a powerful decision making technique.
Goals and Values
When you struggle to make a decision a good gauge can be values and goals. By checking in regularly with company goals and values you can determine which decision will best fit. If a possible course of action or a potential solution is not in keeping with the company values that should be a red flag to go search for another solution. Having clear values and goals can help everyone on your team to make the right decisions.
But most importantly we should learn from the best:
The 5 Whys
Too often we come up with solutions to the wrong problems. Understanding the problem is the most important factor for problem solving and decision making. A quick powerful methods for understanding the problem is the 5 Whys. This will help you to get to the root cause of an issue and ensure you don’t take the first explanation as the cause of an issue. Listening and asking questions is one of the most important lessons to learn when it comes to both Leadership and Life. The more you understand the more you will come with the right solutions to the right problems.
Decision Making and problem solving are not a part of leadership that cannot be ignored. How skilful you are at making decisions and making them fast will be a determining factor in your future success, so if it is not a natural skill you possess spend some time adding some techniques and modes of thinking to your toolkit so the next time there is a leak in the pipe you know exactly what tool you can use.
Most people in business are well aware of the multitude of business benefits to be gained from having more productive employees as well as from more efficient production lines. Productivity benefits are obvious and widely felt when implemented in a business environment. If you weren’t already convinced, here are thirteen reasons why productivity should be on your agenda for 2018.
1. Increasing profitability
Companies experience an increase in profitability when it becomes less expensive to produce their goods and services. When workers become more efficient, less labour is required to produce the same amount of goods. The company could choose to reduce the number of employees to produce the same output, but if it chooses to maintain the same amount of labour, it will benefit from an increase in output.
2. Lowering operational costs
Companies can reduce operational costs through a number of initiatives. If individual workers improve their personal workflow, they will either produce more in less time or reduce the amount of hours they need to work to achieve the same output. Operational costs can often be reduced through an investment in technology, and over time improved processes can lead to a reduction in labour costs. The introduction of flexitime and three day weeks can see productivity increase when people feel more valued and engaged and suffer less from stress as a result of less commuting. Often people can achieve the same amount of work in three flexi days as they might previously have done in a week.
3. Optimising resources
Often companies don’t use their resources to the best potential. Employees are busy some of the time and looking for work to do at other times. Better human resource management offers a great opportunity to reduce costs and increase productivity. Better role distribution and more effective staffing can make a massive difference, the difference between profit and loss. Optimal workforce utilisation should be on the agenda for change. Improved workflow systems will identify places that roles are overlapping. Companies can rectify situations where employees aren’t being used to their maximum potential, and they can start to use their resources efficiently.
4. Improving customer service
Improvements in productivity are usually felt all over an organisation. One of the external benefits comes when customers are given more time and atten- tion. Systems run better, and the customer feels the benefit. Of course, when the customer is benefiting, the company benefits because happy customers lead to happy managers and happy shareholders.
5. Seizing the opportunity for growth
An increase in productivity is always an opportunity for growth. How this increase is used is up to management. If the productivity increase results in more time for employees, it’s important to control how this time is spent. Far too easily, this time can get used up by mundane tasks and time wasting activities that pose as valid tasks. Don’t be deceived: a time suck is always a time suck, and if it wasn’t important enough to take up your time before your productivity enhancements, it certainly doesn’t merit your time now.
6. Reducing waste and environmental impact
The environment suffers when people aren’t efficient. If you’re not organised and take ten hours to do work that could be done in six, you use four hours of extra electricity that doesn’t need to be used. When you don’t look closely at the way you’re doing things, you waste time, money, and resources. Heating can be optimised and not wasted. When you do this, you create a more pleasant and healthier working environment, which results in higher productivity and focus amongst employees. Good building design that maximises natural light leads to a reduction in lighting costs as well as an increase in workers’ productivity and well‐being due to good levels of daylight in the building. Lighting levels can have a significant impact on productivity and the mood of the people who work in the office.
7. Improving competitiveness
Anything you can do faster, more efficiently or better than your competitors gives you an edge. Increased productivity leads to increased competitiveness. If you can produce your products at a lower cost than your competitor, you can charge less. If you can deliver your service more quickly than your competitor, you can serve more clients or you can increase time spent on customer service, increasing your value add to the customer.
Everyone is aware of the multitude of benefits that organisations gain from productivity increases, but the benefits for employees may not be as widely known as those noticed by the accountants and financial people.
8. Reducing employee burnout
When people have too much to do and not enough time to do it, it can result in stress, exhaustion or total burnout. Working more efficiently whether a reduction in time spent on daily processes or a reallocation of roles and responsibilities – results in people being able to cope better with their work- load and complete their responsibilities in the time allocated to them. This is a positive consequence for both employer and employee. Better time manage- ment leads to more organised, relaxed and efficient employees who can focus on their daily tasks rather than worry about all the things they’re not getting to.
9. Enhancing wellbeing
Another benefit of improved productivity is personal well‐being. Well‐being can be described as a state where you’re healthy, comfortable and happy. When you’re more in control of your workload, you can be more in control of your life, having time to include exercise, to cook healthy food and rest when you need to relax. With less stress, you can listen to your body and give it more of what it needs. All the good things in life are within your reach. All it takes is a few little changes, and you’ll see them all add up to stunning results.
10. Improving morale
When companies help employees become more organised and productive, they’re investing in the well‐being of the employee. Many workers see pro- ductivity as a way to squeeze more work out of the worker. This vision has to change. Increased productivity is a positive outcome for all involved. When employees understand what improving their efficiency can mean to them reduced stress and increased control, well‐being and focus – they can then embrace the process and accept the benefits that can be gained. When employees reap the benefits of increased efficiencies, it usually improves their morale and commitment toward the company.
11. Increasing engagement
More productive workers are usually more engaged in their work. Engagement is a result of a number of factors, which are often linked to the quality of leadership, the amount of autonomy an individual feels and the degree to which they feel in control of their work and workload. When the effort your put into your work makes a difference and your aren’t just treading water, you’ll be more focused and engaged. When employees take control to get their work lives organised, it usually leads to increased focus, commitment and engagement, or they will move on to another job role that they feel is more suitable for them.
Ciara Conlon is the author of ‘Productivity for Dummies’ and ‘Chaos to Control’, a Productivity Expert, Leadership Coach and Motivational Speaker, located in Dublin, Ireland
If this is so, why do we struggle so much to find the discipline for our habits? and why do we keep convincing ourselves that we can get our goals without putting in the work?
I’ve been struggling with the habit of exercise of late. I have been battling with a sore hip for the past two years. I’ve been to Physiotherapists, Osteopaths, Strength and Conditioning coaches, Cranio Sacral therapists and an Acupuncturist. You name it and I’ve probably been there. It all helped a little but nothing took the pain away. I kept putting off getting an MRI because two hip xrays and a flurry of therapists didn’t think there was much wrong with me and because I have a panic attack even thinking about it!
Finally I went for the MRI, and the results show some bone deterioration. Nothing too serious and nothing a Physio., Osteo. or other professional will fix. I was wisely advised that I was outsourcing my health to others and that it was time for me to take action. So I now need to create the habit of going to the gym to strengthen my muscles and minimise the pain.
I’ve committed to go three times a week and follow a plan. I’ve started. All good in the hood. Now in the past I have an M.O. I get super motivated do exactly what I need to do for a couple of weeks maybe even months, then I get sick or I hurt myself or I get busy or another hundred possible excuses and I loose my good habit. I start again but its never quite with the same intensity or passion. Sound familiar?
But I know I can do it because I have mastered a number of habits.
Habit 1: Meditation
I meditate every morning for twenty minutes. I do this first thing after waking before the day distracts me. What helped me to master this habit is the following;
I do it regardless of what time I wake
On the days I’m travelling or really don’t have time because of other commitments I don’t beat myself up over it, I speak to myself kindly reminding myself of point 3.
I never allow two days to pass without meditating, if I miss today I won’t miss tomorrow
My life has completed transformed with this habit so I regularly remind myself of this fact.
Habit 2: Using my Calendar
I plan my life with my calendar, personal and professional events all get a place in my calendar. How I have stuck with this habit;
When I open my computer in the morning I open my calendar first. This allows me to see my priorities before I get distracted with the day
When I don’t do it I don’t look at it as a failure just an inevitable part of life and I find the next available time to plan my week
I make sure to have at least one planning session a week to plan our my priorities and responsibilities
Using the calendar thought me how to focus, with that my life changed from total chaos to achieving my goals.
Habit 3: Gratitude
The habit of gratitude is the powerful habit to help you change your attitude and your mindset.
This practise has helped me to feel positive each morning and start my day well.
If we really want to get our goals we must be wiling to put in the work and that doesn’t mean putting in the work when we feel like it, it also means doing what’s required when we don’t feel like it. Having the discipline to get up and meditate, exercise or work when we don’t feel like it is what builds character, both mental and physical strength. It’s time to welcome discipline into your life because discipline will take care of you and help you to reach your goals and have a life that you love in every way.
Recognise the power of discipline and the benefits of staying in control of your life. This will help you to reinforce the good that you are doing for yourself.
What you want to be tomorrow you have to do today
You need to have the belief that you can and will adopt this new habit. You are familiar with the saying “I’ll believe it when I see it” Wayne Dyer turned that on its head and said:
“I’ll see it when I believe it”
The power of our belief is infinite. Probably the most difficult part of creating a new life. If you have failed before you will be reluctant to try again but remember few people became successful first attempt. Failure is part of life and you must pick yourself back up and try again. Keep going and keep challenging your limiting beliefs. Don’t leave them lingering below the surface, dig them up and challenge them.
Control what you do
You may not be able to change your how you feel right now but you can choose how you are going to behave. Your behaviours are 100% within your control. When we tell ourselves that our behaviours are not within our control that is when we play the victim. From today on commit to no longer playing victim to your circumstances, commit to taking responsibility for your future life.
Here’s some basic steps you can take to get started with some positive new habits:
Don’t check your phone in the first hour of the day
Start a morning routine, however small
Start small do a new habit for 10 minutes a day
Start with one habit and focus on that for at least a month
Create the environment for success, if you want to eat healthy foods stop buying junk in the supermarket. If you want to exercise, get your gym clothes ready in advance
Only create habits that you really want to be part of your life not because you think you should!
Don’t fill your mind with negative news or negative thoughts, think positive reality is a creation of the mind.
I will leave you with the words of Aristotle:
“You are what you repeatedly do, excellence therefore is not an act but a habit”