While the 1960 book “Psycho-Cybernetics” originally revealed the idea that it takes at least 21 days to form new habits, a more accurate number of days can be attributed to a more recent study by the European Journal of Social Psychology. The study found that it takes on average 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic, meaning the idea of a three-week overhaul of personal and professional habits may be more like a quick-fix pipe dream instead of a solid plan. When it comes to embracing new habits to become a better leader and more successful, there are no shortcuts. However, knowing that you may be only a couple months away from the best version of yourself, 66 days is definitely doable. In the next two months, embrace these habits to help set up yourself and your organization for future gains.
Embrace Time Management Habits
One of the most important habits a successful leader practices is managing their time. There are several different time management practices, but the most important thing to do is take an inventory of the work, duties, deadlines, and obligations you have. Decide when you are most productive at work and set aside these moments for uninterrupted work. Set clear boundaries with your peers and co-workers about availability and shut off all distractions first. If you protect your productive time and can find success in those moments, you will be more present and intentional during the moments you are available to your team.
Focus on Your Emotional Intelligence
As a leader, your best assets are your employees. Without a successful team, it’s impossible to have a successful organization. However, maintaining and retaining a well-engaged crew starts with leadership. Poor communication can derail an organization quickly, so it’s important to create habits that help you be more open and available to your employees, while also becoming a more empathetic leader. This is done by focusing on improving your emotional intelligence (EI), which is “the ability to monitor one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.” From self-awareness and self-regulation to social skills, empathy, and motivation, a leader with high EI can transform an organization.
Beat Procrastination Each Morning
Regardless of where you are in your career, there is a least one thing we all dread doing at work. These are the tasks that should take under an hour, but we spend days pushing it off until the last minute. To allow more time to work on items that energize you, create a habit where you do the things you tend to procrastinate first thing in the morning. This idea derived from Mark Twain’s quote “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” The idea is if you do the thing you dislike first, then you have the rest of your day to focus on things you enjoy.
Invest in Your Development Daily
While encouraging your employees to focus on professional development is imperative to building an all-star team, the most inspiring leaders are life-long learners themselves. The business climate is everchanging and if you aren’t keeping up with the times, you’re falling behind. Instead, start habits today that keep you on top of your industry’s cutting-edge products, procedures, and publications. While accepting personal responsibility for your own learning, invest in your knowledge and skills daily through online courses, cross-training opportunities, and scholarly articles. Even if you never use the information you learn personally, you’ll be more equipped to lead others and coach them in those fields. Not only will you keep your mind and skills sharp, you will have a more proactive approach to leadership instead of reactionary responses.
What habits have helped you experience future success? How have embracing habits changed your leadership style? Let us know in the comments section below!