I recently read Atomic Habits by James Clear, and I have to say, it gave me some great ideas about how to build good habits (and break bad ones). One of his tenets is that a habit must be easy in order for it to stick. With that in mind, I started considering how to develop habits for a healthier workday.
What is a habit?
According to Clear, “a habit is a behavior that has been repeated enough times to become automatic.” Think:
- Getting out your phone every time you get in line at the grocery store
- Opening your email as soon as you sit down at the computer
- Eating junk food whenever you’re bored
Clear also says, “Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement…the effects of your habits multiply as you repeat them.” In his book, Clear asserts that practicing good habits makes a big positive difference over time. Meanwhile, bad habits have the opposite effect.
Why must habits be easy?
One of Clear’s Four Laws of Behavior Change is “Make it Easy.” Why?
Because habits form when they’ve been repeated enough times. In other words, the more you practice them, the more likely they will stick. And if habits are too difficult to perform, there’s a higher likelihood you’ll give them up.
5 easy habits for a healthier workday
So with all this in mind, here are a handful of suggested habits for a healthier work day:
- Put your walking shoes on before you sit down at your desk. This will make it easier to get up and take quick walk breaks throughout the day. It eliminates one task that might otherwise be an excuse. (“I mean, I could go walk, but then I’d have to change my shoes…”)
- Put a big bottle of water on your desk in the morning. Before you sit down to work, fill a giant bottle with the amount of water you want to drink during the day. Your goal is to empty the bottle by the time you leave work.
- Prepare healthy meals and snacks the night before. When we’re busy–and hungry–we don’t necessarily make the healthiest food choices. Prep your food the night before (even if you work from home). That way, when you’re in a time-crunch during work, you can easily reach for your ready-to-eat healthy options instead of something out of the vending machine.
- Pack your daily vitamins with your lunch so you don’t forget to take them. Pro tip: fill a pill organizer with a week’s worth of vitamins and keep it in your lunchbox. For those working from home, keep your vitamins where you can’t possibly miss them.
- Stretch for a minute or two after you finish every task. I’ve tried the apps that remind you to get up and stretch every hour. They don’t work for me, because when I’m in the zone with work, I’m not going to stop to stretch. Instead, I’m working on stretching after every time I finish a task or set of tasks. That way, I’m not interrupting my flow state, but I’m still regularly getting up from my desk.
Do you have more ideas on easy habits for a healthier work day? Leave them in the comments below!