How does change happen? Newton’s first law states that objects keep going in the same direction at the same speed until an external force acts upon it which changes its course and velocity. There isn’t much point arguing with the laws of physics, so if we want to make a change, we have to be that external force.
Luckily for us, to improve your personal productivity, you don’t have to grab your Sunday golf club and bludgeon yourself into action; a small nudge should do the trick. This is because it’s the little things that can have the biggest impact.
Accentuate the positive
Research shows daily habits are the most powerful of all behaviours, and therefore the most powerful way to make the changes we want is to start with the small things.
First off, we need to acknowledge that we can’t do everything. Recognising this takes a certain strength and self-awareness, but if we remember to let go and focus in on one or two small but key priorities, we are well on our way to improving personal productivity.
You might want to make a positive improvement to your health: how about starting your day every day with a fruit smoothie? You can easily tick off three of your five a day before you’ve even left the house.
Want to increase your client or customer numbers? What about going to events where you can network twice a month? Schedule in an hour for following up with new contacts after each event and you’ll soon reap the benefits.
It’s this attention to detail that makes a big difference. This does not mean we lose sight of the big picture, but focusing on the small things making a small alteration to the daily routine, or instigating one minor innovation in the weekly plan enables us to achieve real change.
Eliminate the negative
There’s a flipside to the power of the small things. If small, positive things can have a huge impact, so too can small, negative things. What bad habits in your company or your life could you do without? If we don’t keep an eye on the details, the little things can wreak havoc in our personal and professional lives.
Cognitive therapy treats problems big and small by helping patients to challenge unhelpful reactions to everyday situations.
You probably don’t feel this applies to you. But have you ever felt rejected or upset after someone has said no to an invitation? Been self-critical when you haven’t achieved what you set out to do by the end of the day?
These are exactly the kinds of situations CBT focuses on, because this therapy recognises how changing the small things can have a huge impact on how we approach the world. We can learn a lot from these techniques to eradicate those unhelpful little things from our own lives.
One small step
To create real impact by changing the small things, you need to do it consistently. The engagement and the investment doesn’t have to be big, but it has to be there. Can you think of a significant change you’ve made for the positive? Can you break down the big picture into the small things that got you there?
Many of us can probably come up with a few things. But now it’s time to have a think about a small alteration or new activity you could introduce today one which you could do regularly with a modest amount of effort which could help you towards a big change. And then do it.
Take one small step in the right direction, and you might find that, with consistent effort, you’ve made a giant leap for you or your business.