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Action Tip

How to acquire and keep new habits 

The post-crisis period is a good time to make sure (good) new practices last. Rolling out a more flexible management style, getting the hang of new tools, strengthening teleworking rituals — these are just some of the practices that can be turned into lasting habits. 

Take a long, hard look at your habits

The silver lining in this crisis? It has enabled you to make a clean break from bad habits and start creating better ones.

  • Start by reviewing the goals you want to prioritize in the future.
  • Check whether your old habits are in step with these goals — now is the time to ditch those that are past their sell-by date.
  • Identify (at least) one good practice started during the crisis that you would like to keep using and make a habit.

Get ready for change — calmly

Adopting a new habit is hard work. You need to get ready for it calmly and methodically. Don’t place yourself under unnecessary pressure by trying to run before you can walk.

  • Pay attention to the context: it will take more than willpower to create a lasting habit. Success or failure doesn’t depend solely on strength of character. Context plays a vital role.
  • Don’t rush in headlong: if you want the new habit to take hold, spend time creating an environment in which it can flourish.
  • List all sources of friction that could hamper your plans so that you can iron them out. For example: unexpected interruptions during your working day, the behavior of colleagues, or a new tool you haven’t got the hang of yet.
  • Keep a check on temptations that might distract from your task or make sure, at least, it is harder to give in to them. For instance, if you need to concentrate on something, switch off smartphone notifications, or turn your phone off completely.

Are conditions right for you to start this? If not, wait until circumstances are more favorable — there is no point trying to tackle mission impossible. It’s exhausting and demoralizing.

Set up parameters before you shift direction

If you want to turn an action into a habit, start by creating a set routine around it. Keep the ingredients close at hand, just as a chef prepares his workspace before he starts making a dish.

  • Time: establish set times for this action to be carried out and try to stick to them as closely as possible. Consider them as nonnegotiable priorities in your schedule.

Excerpt from Business Digest N°307, Juin 2020

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Françoise Tollet
Published by Françoise Tollet
She spent 12 years in industry, working for Bolloré Technologies, among others. She co-founded Business Digest in 1992 and has been running the company since 1998. And she took the Internet plunge in 1996, even before coming on board as part of the BD team.