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By Jakaeden Frizzell, CPD Program Coordinator
COVID-19 has turned the world upside-down and you are being asked to work remotely. How will this affect your professional performance? The habits you develop in your new reality will drive productivity – or lack thereof. Despite the uncertainty ahead, this is an opportunity for change and we may as well use it for the better. Welcome to the blog series “Not Another Health & Wellness Resource”, where we will explore strategies for you to maintain or even boost your work productivity through healthy choices.
Although I currently work as CPD Coordinator at the Law Society, my educational and professional background is in high performance sport. In engaging with and working with lawyers, I have come to appreciate the similarities between high-performing athletes and high-performing professionals. The two groups share similar skills, such as diligence, time management, decision making, and drive. I have also noticed that many health and wellness resources created for professionals are written through either a preventative or a reactive lens; however, simply sharing information about a topic does not usually translate to changes in behaviour.
This blog series will not dive into practice management topics but will instead introduce health strategies that can boost your physical and mental health to increase focus, cognitive ability, motivation, and general well-being throughout your work day.
Before discussing specific performance management systems, let us consider how to launch these systems and turn them into daily habits. An important first step is to identify logistics that may impede behaviour change (“friction”). Below are two examples that identify friction to a change in behaviour and suggest a strategy to support incorporating that specific system into your work day.
Example 1: If one of your performance management systems is to drink a certain amount of water in a day, but you know that you have difficulty remembering either to drink from your water bottle or to refill it once it’s empty, then no amount of charting or tracking will help. Consider instead filling up enough water bottles to reach your daily goal and putting them not just in plain view, but in your immediate line of vision.
Example 2: If one of your performance management systems is to eat healthy foods, but you love to snack on chips or chocolate bars during the day or before bed, then no amount of healthy breakfast smoothies and salad lunches will yield positive results. Consider instead switching out your snack food with a healthier option and pre-portioning it into containers.
In Example 1, we modified a stimulus to our behaviour to support our performance management system of drinking water. In Example 2, we modified a factor within our behaviour to support our performance management system of eating healthy foods. Both of these strategies promote a healthy behaviour change but are not the behaviour change in themselves. Life is built around learned behaviours that, with some foresight, can be hacked to help your systems succeed. Identifying friction to a behaviour change can be very helpful to forming habits and creating lasting behaviour change.
For more about friction to behavioural change, check out Dan Ariely’s Ted Talk “How To Change Your Behaviour for the Better” from December 2019.
Throughout this blog series we will discuss ways to introduce lifestyle choices at home that will help boost your performance as a professional. Performance management systems will be useless without the proper motivation to maintain them and it will be important to tackle these lifestyle changes in reasonable steps so as to create a strong foundation of habitual behaviours. High performers can continually improve and evaluate performance management systems through a growth mindset approach to behaviour. I encourage you to take this opportunity to plan out smart, manageable lifestyle changes that you can incorporate into your work day because, as has undoubtedly been shown through recent world events, changes are already afoot.
Jakaeden Frizzell is an MSc candidate in Sport Psychology and a Registered Coach with the Coaches Association of Canada.