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12 Feb

Make your new habits tangible and portable

Datum: 2013-02-12 14:03

When you are in the process of improv­ing you struc­ture at work, it is high­ly prob­a­ble that you will need to change a habit or two as well, that is, how you deal with cer­tain sit­u­a­tions in your every­day life. 

It might be the way in which you as soon as you arrive at the office in a con­crete way get an overview of all the things you need to do dur­ing the day. 

It might be the way in which you make a con­scious pri­or­i­ti­za­tion when you are sud­den­ly over­loaded with new tasks.

It might be how you process your e‑mails in such a way that you stay in con­trol of the sit­u­a­tion, yet avoid that the inbox fill up.

It can be how you act when some­one del­e­gates a task to you and you want to com­plete it in good time and in a sat­is­fac­to­ry way. 

It can be what you do with a bril­liant idea on how to improve some­thing a col­league told you. 

Or, per­haps you have refined the process of how to quick­ly and smooth­ly dis­patch an order from a new client to perfection. 

Answer your own ques­tions effortlessly

So that you can eas­i­ly remem­ber how you have decid­ed you will act to com­plete­ly estab­lish this new habit, you need to be able to eas­i­ly remind your­self of what to do when you get into the sit­u­a­tion you wish to change. You should be able to ask your­self OK, here I am again. What was it I said I would do when I got here?” and get an answer immediately. 

Hence, you need to make the new habits vis­i­ble and portable. 

Do this

  1. Choose a cou­ple of new habits, work meth­ods, rou­tines or process­es that you want to make com­plete­ly nat­ur­al to yourself. 
    It can for instance be This is what I do when I receive process and store away e‑mails.”

  2. Describe them as process-maps (with box­es, arrows and rhombs) or check­lists, accord­ing to your own pref­er­ences. With a check­list I mean an instruc­tion that fol­lows the for­mat 1), 2), 3) et c. 

  3. Decide to either car­ry these descrip­tions with you dig­i­tal­ly or physically. 

    In this dig­i­tal day and age where most things are kept in the cloud, you might be tempt­ed to store your descrip­tions dig­i­tal­ly, but remem­ber that it is cru­cial that you can get them out quick­ly and eas­i­ly when you need them with­out hav­ing to click, drag, click, wait, zoom et c, and with­out hav­ing to have a good mobile cov­er­age in the room you hap­pen to be in. 

    There is also a risk that you for­get the instruc­tion even exist if you store it away too deep into the fold­ers on your dig­i­tal device. 

  4. But, if you choose the dig­i­tal, eas­i­ly updat­ed way to keep these lists, save process-maps as pic­tures and check­lists as doc­u­ments, and syn­chro­nize them with your phone or add them as a ser­vice in Ever­note, Drop­box or some oth­er online stor­ing-ser­vice with total portability. 

  5. If you feel like hav­ing your lists in a phys­i­cal for­mat, print the maps and list in pock­et-sized for­mat and either wrap them in plas­tic or lam­i­nate them, for instance by using the smart plas­tic pock­ets from Janoplast (whom I do not have any coop­er­a­tion with, just to be extra clear). 

    Or spray-glue them into a soft, thin note­book, for instance Moleskine’s small­est version. 

  6. Keep the note­book or the plas­tic-wrapped cards in a place where you can reach them eas­i­ly. Take a moment to real­ly think about this and find a real­ly good place to keep them in, because if you are like me, hav­ing to do two things instead of one, like open­ing a zip­per and then open­ing a lid, is one step too many if I am to real­ly use my lists. 

  7. When­ev­er you are in doubt as to what you have decid­ed you want to do so that the results in a par­tic­u­lar sit­u­a­tion are improved, just take out your descrip­tion and remind your­self. Do not waste time try­ing to remem­ber and avoid start­ing from scratch over and over again since you missed to do a step in the begin­ning of the process.

Sup­port only an arm’s length away

If you describe your refined ways of work­ing in process-maps or check­lists, as well as make sure to keep them close at hand in your every­day life, you will be able to estab­lish the new habits quick­er and with greater ease. You will have them as a sup­port­ing tool as long as you feel you need them. They will make it more prob­a­ble that you get it right from the begin­ning and that you do not have to spend time, ener­gy and mon­ey fix­ing what went wrong. And when the day comes for you to train some­one else in doing some­thing, the rou­tines are already in an acces­si­ble for­mat and you will com­mu­ni­cate your way of work­ing with min­i­mal effort. 

What is your trick?

How do you make your rou­tines and work­ing meth­ods vis­i­ble in such a way that it is easy to com­mu­ni­cate them to oth­ers? Write a com­ment to let me know.