According to Mark Mansen’s “A Guide to Habits”, habits are behaviours we perform on a daily or otherwise regular basis. Behaviours become habitual if some component of it is at least to some extent “automatic.”
Some studies state that habits make up to over 40% of everyday behaviour.
Habit and its characteristics have a scientific justification. Neuroscientists have connected our habit-making activities to a part of the brain called the Basal Ganglia. The Basal Ganglia is also a key contributor to the development of emotions, memories, and pattern recognition. It can take a behaviour and turn it into an automatic routine. Decisions to act on these activities are then made in the prefrontal cortex but as soon as it becomes a repetitive pattern, the decision-making part of your brain goes sleep mode.
Every habit begins with a psychological pattern known as a “habit loop,”. This pattern manifests in 3 parts: first, there is a trigger that tells your basal ganglia to go into automatic mode and allow an activity or action to unfold.
Next is the response, which is convincing your brain into the performance of said action.
Habits are reinforced by the reward derived from following a pattern. This is the third part; the reward which reminds your brain of the pleasure derived from following through with the habitual process to help your brain remember the pattern.
Bad work habits are damaging as they consume time, energy, and resources that should have been expended in more resourceful ways. Not all habits are bad as we know. The goal of this article is to help break bad work habits while creating new and healthy work ones. Habits can be leveraged upon to our benefit as we spend most of our lives on autopilot.
Here are four major work habits to develop towards achieving a more focused and productive year:
Multitasking is necessary and sometimes beneficial at times, but the truth is, the division of attention among multiple things may cause the prevention of allocating the time needed to do an excellent job, and inadvertently, productivity and output suffer. While multitasking is a valuable skill when evaluating or interviewing a person, unitasking should be a more valuable skill to look out for.
Concentration and focusing on a goal or task are a habit to inculcate this new year to increase work productivity and efficiency.
The key to unitasking is simple: eliminate all and any form of distractions.
Take a pause
Before reaching out to pick up your phone or to open a new tab, pause for a minute or two. When you do not pause to orientate your brain as to the reason you are about to make that move, you follow an impulse to check out the notification of a new instastory, a message from a friend, or to chase the next level in the game you’ve been playing, and just like that, you are repeating the pattern again and again.
Change your environment
There is a tendency to lose touch with your body sensations or feelings the longer you spend online or working. You barely notice or recognize the tingling sensation in your legs from sitting at a spot over an extended period, the tense back and neck muscles from a bad sitting or lying position, or the ache right behind your retina from staring at the screen for long. Tactile items are a great addition to your workspace to keep you in touch with your environment and yourself. It could be anything: fidget toys, stress balls, buttons, Legos, an hourglass, anything. Silence and keep devices away
This goes without saying, the best way to avoid distractions is to keep and maintain your distance. If the television is disrupting, turn it off or work in another room. You can also put your phone on silent and in another room while you’re working.
Imbibing these habits is easier said than done. Distractions exist in every corner these days, even if it’s in the form of a notification beep or the background light of your phone c on the desk. These kinds of distractions can seem minimal, but anything that pulls you away from your focus can get in the way of your productivity.
Don’t get distracted. Instead, cultivate the above habits to enjoy a focused and more productive year. Your productivity will thank you.