It’s hard to find individuals who are satisfied with their work productivity. Endless emails pop into our inboxes, a coworker stops by our desk for some advice or chitchat, the phone rings, social media notifications buzz our phones, our stomachs yearn for an afternoon snack, and before you know it, you’re Googling restaurant reviews in a neighborhood you’ve never been to. Suddenly, it’s time to call it a day and your to-do list stares you in the face. “I could have gotten much more done today,” plagues you on the commute home.
Some Simple Things Getting in the Way of Productivity
There are many methodologies to increase productivity. I’ve written about some effective ones, such as the Corporate Athlete; I recommend you read that blog series for a robust strategy that encompasses the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of our lives.
In addition, something as simple as getting control of habits can make a significant impact on productivity. Charles Duhigg examines how habits work and the best way to change them in his book, The Power of Habit. He explains the three simple aspects of habits that cause us to repeat them over and over again: cue, routine and reward.
The cue is a trigger that starts a habit. The routine is the behavior you perform as a result of the cue — the habit itself. And the reward is the benefit associated with this behavior.
Habits Are Rewarding
The “reward” of a habit isn’t as simple as a bag of M&Ms. It actually has to do with dopamine, the neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. When you see something that has previously given us a reward, our brain is flooded with dopamine, even if we aren’t expecting a reward. And dopamine makes us feel good.
How Do We Change a Habit?
If 43% of what we do every day is a habit, how do we make any changes? That’s what Duhigg explains in the infographic below. He provides a four-step framework to understand, and then alter, our habits. And to be clear, he’s not saying we can break our bad habits — just that we can reframe our thinking and behaviors to create better ones — ones that make us more productive.
I also recommend practicing mindfulness to increase productivity and happiness. Learn how to incorporate it into your workday from start to finish. You’ll find a handy infographic guide to print out too.
How to Reframe Bad Habits to Boost Your Productivity