Turning new behaviors into habits
I recently started a new job and have promised myself I will get in better work rhythms and break the bad habits I built over my 14-year career. It’s hard. It’s so much easier to go with the flow and see if you can accomplish what you need to, but the outcome of that process is stressful and exhausting. So, with the New Year approaching, I thought this would be the perfect time to share some of the new habits I am working on building into my life.
But first, I want to share some things I have learned about creating new habits. It takes time – lots of time! In fact, for a longtime it was firmly believed it takes 21-days to change a behavior. Here’s some back story on this myth and the true findings by Dr. Maxwell Maltz. The reality is it takes a minimum of two-months to make a new behavior a habit. That explains why by March most people’s New Year’s resolutions are out the window. I am definitely not an expert on making new habits stick – I could actually use some help in this area. But common sense tells me consistency and determination are very important factors in the process.
Five New Habits to Implement in the New Year
- Scheduling Myself into My Own Calendar: This is HUGE! It’s about respecting your own time and giving yourself space to accomplish the projects you have promised to others.
- Making a To-Do List at the End of Each Day: This is an opportunity to take an inventory of where you are at on the projects on your plate and reassess how and when you will get things done. Doing this allows me to leave the office and truly not think about tasks, because I already know where everything is at and it will be waiting for me when I return to the office.
- Holding Myself Accountable Using Project Management Tools: I have been using Asana for a few years and love the flexibility and ability to customize the tool to your individual needs. This is where all my projects live and how and where I make my daily to-do lists. It also allows my team to check-in and see where I am with projects they may be waiting on without constantly bugging me.
- Batching Projects: Truth be told, this is a strategy I have not put into place yet, but I love the concept. Essentially you take several projects that take the same skill-set, like writing blogs, for example, and you do several all at once rather than spreading these projects out over time. This requires planning of both your projects and your time, but ultimately the idea is that by being purposeful with your time you are allowing room for other things to come up, which they always do.
- Time Blocking: This ties in directly with number one, but can be applied to your entire life. Time blocking is taking your calendar and giving every minute a purpose. This should include downtime or simply building in margin for other things to happen. This is another habit I haven’t quiet been able to get on top of, but I love the idea and can see how it could bring order to chaos.
Finding rhythms that work for you, that provide room in your life will ultimately help build a stronger brand. I am a big believer that if a strong plan is in place and you are able to work the plan, you are essentially creating room for spontaneity to happen. For example, if you have a social media plan in place and you have pre-scheduled five posts for Facebook, if something happens that you want to post about it, it doesn’t change that plan (unless their are circumstances that impact or change your scheduled content), instead it becomes an addition — icing on the cake, if you will.
I would love to hear about processes and habits you are trying or would like to try. What works, what doesn’t? Why is this new rhythm appealing? Please share in the comments.