7 small steps for big changes this year

18th January, 2016

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Centuries ago, the Greek philosopher Aristotle reflected on the fact if we can do something consistently then the habit becomes ingrained into our behaviour.

While this time of year sees the roll-out of many and varied New Year’s Resolutions, small steps towards setting up some healthy business habits are more likely to achieve success — in the short and long term.

A habit is a bit like a behaviour loop. It’s a routine that’s repeated regularly and tends to occur automatically. While there is some debate over the number of times you need to repeat a behaviour in order for it to be habit-forming, there’s no doubt that the effort invested in creating positive habits is worthwhile in the long run.

Here are 7 ideas for small steps towards healthy business habits. Keeping it small and achievable should make a positive impact on your year.

1. Keep your house in order

Start the year with a clean-up of your desk, paperwork and laptop. Delete unnecessary or superseded files from your hard drive, and archive key documents. Critical data should be backed up securely or saved to a cloud drive — Dropbox and Google Drive can be of help here.

So your laptop or PC continue to function smoothly, run any mandatory software updates. Clean up your email inbox too.

Set aside around two hours in on the first business day in April, July and October to repeat the process above.

2. Plan the quarter

Plan your calendar for the first three months of the year. Seeing what you have on your plate for the first quarter can help you to visualise a positive start to the year. Schedule a weekly review of your business planning and goal setting.

3. Stay on top of statements

How can you be more efficient than you were last year? By checking your business credit card statements every month? By reviewing and sign off your monthly reconciliations at each month end? Can you scan in receipts, business cards, and other old paperwork into an app?

Put these tasks in your calendar so you plan around them each month.

4. Manage your email

This year I have made the simple micro-resolution to only check my email inbox twice per day. This is a relatively easy win, and by dealing with each message received only once, it’s an effective way for me to save valuable time.

5. Start and finish meetings on time

Business meetings often meander along aimlessly. Make this a great year by being more targeted with your meetings.

The best way to get maximum impact is to make sure that each meeting has a defined purpose, structure, agenda and objectives. It helps if you can politely but clearly state at the outset how much time is available for the meeting. Be diligent with your time-keeping.

6. Take a healthy step

If you’re anything like me then you will agree that the post-Christmas period is a great time of year to make positive changes to your health. Consider how you can make a small positive adjustment to your working environment or routine, such as walking to work one day per week.

This year, my resolution is to take my own lunch and healthy snacks to the office instead of repeatedly buying over-priced takeaway food. How can you take a healthy step this year?

7. Chill out

Finally, why not resolve to take some time out for relaxation this year? Making sure you get adequate rest and relaxation time is an integral part of ensuring workplace productivity.

As a news and information junkie, this year I have made a resolution not to consume any information electronically after 10pm. I hope this will make for a sound night of sleep, and in turn an enthusiastic start in the morning!

Take small steps…for big change!

When thinking about what you want to achieve in your business this year, try to break it down into small, habit-forming steps. Positive habits can add up to create a real impact for you and your business.