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Habit and Routines

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When working at a consultancy (as I do), it’s sometimes the case that you are ‘between projects’ for a short amount of time. This provides an opportunity to help with pre-sales opportunities, assist with internal projects and generally help with company growth. In the past 4.5 years I’ve always gone straight from one project to the next, but for a few days recently I was between projects.

I’m used to working on many things at once, but it occurred to me how much we (humans) are creatures of habit. During a project we are involved in many daily and weekly rituals as part of the Scrum methodology: Stand-ups, refinement sessions, planning meetings, 3 amigos…the list goes on! The first few days I had real trouble with not going to daily stand-up with my colleagues, talking about what I had been working on and the plan for that day. It was as if my body was programmed to do this which had turned into a kind of muscle memory. As a result, I have had to become more self-disciplined around what I do and when, and this is no bad thing.

It has also taught me a bit about context-switching and the two sides to that coin. In some ways you lose a lot of time each time you switch as your brain assimilates the new concepts and works to get up to speed. On the other hand, the more you do it, the more you are training that ‘muscle’ and becoming more flexible. A year ago, I decided to spend 30 days trying to switch from normal milk to oat milk for health reasons. I thought this would be a massive struggle, but at the end of a month I had naturally switched (and only remembered when I mistakenly drank a cup of tea with normal milk in it).

So, what does this mean? Well, I guess it’s about being conscious of your daily habits and understanding how flexible humans really can be. This might be in a work context, but also outside of that. Think about your daily habits and how good they are for you. Which of these do you want to change? It’s probably easier than you think.

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