It’s the start of another year, and with the changing of the calendar comes the inevitable urge to improve yourself and incorporate better, healthier habits.
Rather than trying to make sweeping changes that may be hard to maintain, small adjustments are easy to incorporate and can immediately show results. This is what Stanford University behavior scientist BJ Fogg calls “tiny habits.” Here’s how he explained it to NPR:
“First, you take any new habit you want, and you scale it back so that it’s super-tiny. You make it so simple that it’s almost like you have no excuse not to do it. So even when you’re in a rush or you’re sick or you’re distracted, it’s so tiny that you can still do it. Then you find where it fits naturally in your existing routine.”
I’m a big fan of keeping things small because they are easier to accomplish, and the more you accomplish, the more confident you get. Here are three small daily changes I recommend to my own employees.
START YOUR DAY WITH POSITIVITY
Take a minute to list out three things you are grateful for—that could be as simple as a great night’s sleep or the latte you had. You can do this while you drink said latte or when you first get to your desk.
“Gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships,” according to several studies cited by Harvard Medical School. So, it’s important to wake up and reset your compass before you start your day, and definitely before you get to work.
PLAN YOUR DAY, BUT DON’T OVERBOOK YOURSELF
Knowing what you’re doing during the workday can go a long way to helping you actually get stuff done. We’ve known for a while that to-do lists can be a powerful tool, but why? Researchers from Florida State University found, “Committing to a specific plan for a goal may therefore not only facilitate attainment of the goal but may also free cognitive resources for other pursuits.”
I like to list out three things I want to accomplish each day then schedule time in my calendar to make sure I have the time to focus and actually do that work.
But to-do lists can do more than just setting your work tasks for the day—they can also be used to plan breaks. Along with identifying three things you want to accomplish today, in between each on your calendar, list three different ways you can take a break from work.
Research shows that even a five-minute break taken at the right time has big benefits. If you’ve already planned what you want to do during that time, you can just dive right in and enjoy that break.
MAKE TIME FOR CURIOSITY
It’s so easy to get caught up in day-to-day, hour-to-hour work. So, you have to find time to be curious. In PR, curiosity helps us learn about our clients and their industries, ultimately leading to creative solutions. That’s why I always encourage my employees to take time to explore and go deeper.
According to research, students who are curious have been found to perform better in school, and curious people tend to come up with more creative solutions in the workplace. Additionally, University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher Evan Polman wrote, “Our research shows that piquing people’s curiosity can influence their choices by steering them away from tempting desires, like unhealthy foods or taking the elevator, and toward less tempting, but healthier options, such as buying more fresh produce or taking the stairs.”
So make a conscious effort to explore, research, and think.