4 bad habits you should substitute now

13 August 2020

By Graeme Cook

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Lockdown has been a perfect storm for developing bad habits.

Fear of the unknown, the stress of new tech, projects being paused, learning how to juggle home and work life… all of these factors have led to some negative behavioural patterns.

Some aren’t gamechangers, like exclusively wearing leisurewear or pyjamas from the waist down, but others can have a detrimental impact on your career and broader life.

However, breaking habits is easier said than done  — especially as brains like familiarity. They don’t want to reinvent the wheel every time we brush our teeth or make a cup of tea; they want as much time and space as possible to ponder more interesting things.

As a result, we’ve all got deep wired behavioural patterns, some we wish we could simply stop, but the best solution is finding substitute routines that make us feel more hopeful and confident.

So, here are some of the bad habits you may have picked up, and the replacement behaviors needed to start ditching them today.

 

1. Don’t ignore poor posture (bad backs aren’t fun!)

Two weeks before lockdown I was sitting on my sofa with a laptop. I’d been deep in thought for hours working on a presentation and hadn’t realised I was twisted to my right the entire time. Before I knew it, I was due to play football in less than an hour, so I leapt up, got changed, drove to the pitch and ran straight onto the field. Two minutes into the game I had a severe pain shoot up my back and I couldn’t walk. Trust me, it’s hard to be productive at work when you’re in excruciating pain and bedbound for a week.

The substitute: In the past I’d inwardly rolled my eyes at health and safety officers talking about monitor heights and seating position, but take the time to organise a home desk, checking it’s in line with guidelines, before you know what back pain feels like! It’s also useful investing in a standing desk converter, as being on your feet for periods of the day — if you’re able to — is far healthier from both a physical and mental point of view. Plus, to iron out any creaks, if you can add regular yoga or pilates sessions into the mix, you’re onto a winner.

 

2. Don’t do it alone

Working with a team is always better than tackling a project solo, but when you’re not in the office, it can make those natural colleague conversations more difficult. If you’re working from home, before you know it, you can be tackling numerous projects single-handedly because it can seem a liberty to ask for time to chat.

The substitute: Setting up weekly one-to-one or small group calls with colleagues to talk generally about each other’s projects can be a great source of inspiration and support. These regular chats can blossom into deeper discussions about opportunities to collaborate or who could form virtual teams. With frequent work sprints and check-ins, you’ll be amazed at the fast-paced solutions you’ll find with a diverse group mobilised behind a clear vision and objectives.

 

3. Avoid multitasking in meetings

Virtual meetings make it more tempting to check your phone or emails than when you’re not physically in a room together. As your brain starts to wander away from what’s being discussed to your own to-do list, it’s easy to lose track of what’s being said and quickly become a passenger. That’s why doing less helps you do more, as you’re not dividing energy and focus, which often results in silly mistakes that will need to be fixed later anyway.

The substitute: To stop your attention being diverted, simply think about your biggest distractions. Does your mind drift when you see notifications appear on Slack or Teams? Switch them off. Is your friend Whatsapping plans for the weekend? Turn your phone upside down and position it out of reach before your meeting starts. Do whatever it takes to be in the moment and you’ll achieve more.

 

4. Don’t forget to break

You may not be commuting, but don’t think that means more time to work.  Working hard is good as it helps you achieve goals and deliver for your team, but without regular breaks you’ll suffer from burnout, negatively impacting you, colleagues and loved ones.

The substitute: Block time in your calendar (with pop-up reminders) to rest, lunch and stretch your legs. Also, avoid multiple meetings back-to-back; your brain needs time to decompress and process what’s previously been discussed, as well as switch on to what’s next. There’s something addictive about cramming in as much as you can in a day, but this won’t let you be your best. One way we can all change this culture is by not letting Outlook’s default meeting times dictate our diaries; swapping all hour-long meetings to 45 minutes means we should have more time to recharge.

 

So, in conclusion…

Sometimes we’re not aware of the habits holding us back, but knowing what they are is the first step to put things right.

We’ve recently been faced with countless emotional and situational triggers — worrying about the health of friends and family, business results taking a hit, trying to find a professional place to work when someone has commandeered the only quiet room in the house, the draw of the comfy sofa and TV; all of these changes have affected the patterns in our brain, resulting in more habits we’d prefer to drop.

COVID-19 has been incredibly testing for a number of reasons, but by finding positive substitutes to replace negative patterns, you’ll achieve more, be happier and have a whole host of good behaviours when normality returns.

Team Eximia is trying its best to fight these bad habits, work more effectively and spread the word, so please help us challenge the process and let us know your top tips for being your best you.

Graeme Cook

Head of Communications

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