The Don't Quit Podcast

Breaking the Habit

Bad work habits are one of the biggest problems that holds us back. It can always being late, casting blame, forgetting meetings, or just an excuse for anything.

B.R. Andres from The American Journal of Psychology in 1903, wrote “A habit is a more or less fixed way of thinking, willing, or feeling acquired through previous repetition of a mental experience.”

Habits are essentially are a subconscious loop. This includes personal, societal, and organizational. The actions you do without thinking.

In The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, he says habits essentially work on a trigger that sets off in our brain while we’re in autopilot. There’s a certain reward system in the mind that gives when we do it. This is what reinforces us to keep doing it.

While every one has a habit, they can also be bad - especially in the workplace. In common I’ve seen people send a lot superfluous messages over Facebook, email, and slack when that can be simplified or put on hold.

The desire of wanting to finish a task like sending an email gives a feeling of moving on to the next. There’s a reward of accomplishing something but the problem here is that is that email worth writing out and sending though?

Sometimes it is and sometimes it’s not - there lies a problem of doing work that seems meaningful on the surface but at the end of the day, doesn’t accomplish anything.

Habits are born out of this - the loop of trigger to routine to reward. It’s a constant cycle that creates anticipation and wanting rewards.

That dopamine we get when we get a notification on our phone is almost impossible to ignore. It all can stop productivity. So how do you fix it?

It’s time to break the habit

Like with all problems the first step in solving them is to identify the problem. This is through awareness. When you’re going through your habit process, you’re more likely to be on autopilot and might not even know what you’re doing. Instead of fighting yourself though, be curious about your current situation.

Get curious in the moment

When you’re going through your emails and notification or what ever you spend a lot of time in. Notice what you’re doing and ask yourself that is it improving your situation and necessary for any progress. If not, then you know you should probably stop messaging on every little thing that comes out.

There’s a lot of false sense of productivity out there. Just because you’re doing things doesn’t mean it’s good. You’re essentially playing wack-a-mole with a fake prize at the end.

Transforming Bad Habits by Replacing Routines

While you can’t just remove a habit in a snap, you can retrain your mindset about the cue and the reward. If there’s the same cue with the same reward - you change the the formula.

So when you’re going through a notification or so turn off everything but the necessary tools you need to get work done.

The Hidden Benefits of Habit Reform

The thing about removing one bad habit is that effects the other bad habits as well. like dam holding back a river of productivity.
If you can remove one, you can remove them all.

What if you spent a week looking a bad habit and started to think what could I do instead? What greater good would come out of it? Would the work speed be faster? more efficient? More profitable?

Once you know habits can change do you have the ability to create your life and how you respond to everyone else’s. Now it’s easier to work. Better, faster, and stronger.


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