Creating Habits in Your Team – Proximity, Convenience and Visibility

Making new healthy habits is tough, there are a lot of challenges to overcome with how your brain thinks about these new ‘difficult’ things, a fear of failure and the absence of instant rewards. There are lots of techniques and brain hacks to use when setting new habits and it is key that they are incorporated and clear in any plan created to help your teams create these habits as easily as possible.

Researcher Brian Wansink done a lot of research on how will power is not enough to create good habits. In his research he looked at proximity, convenience and visibility and how these simple processes can go a long way to helping you change your habits for better or worse.

Changing the visibility and proximity of the stuff we don’t want to do

  • Here some admin staff were put to the test, these staff members were all trying to eat healthy. So, sweets were put across the office for some, on their desks for some and inside their desk drawers for some. The results were that they ate 48% more sweets if they were on their desk than if it was a couple of meters away. And 25% less when they were in their desk draw.

And the convenience was put to the test with the kitchen counter experiment.

  • Having unhealthy food on your kitchen counter = average 10kg weight gain.
  • Having fruit on your kitchen counter = on average 5-10kg weight loss.

So how can we use this information to ensure the people in the organization have the best possible chance of creating new positive daily habits?

There are many ways to do this, to ensure there are constant nudges and reminders. Some of them are:

  • Emails, blogs, suggestions, tips etc.
  • Magazines
  • E-books
  • Time sectioned in calendars
  • Posters
  • Time to talk

Remember when putting these (I would recommend using at least 3) in place to refer back to a specific task, something that is clear and useful. Don’t just spam and suggest people ‘call a friend’ or ‘take a break’ this is not enough and can also become irritating. Make the content expert, engaging and interesting. Something that registers and is not easily dismissed.

For employees suggest they make reminders, post it notes, diary reminders, something on your computers home screen. Make sure everywhere you look there is a reminder of what you are supposed to be doing, and make the process easy, put your journal on your desk, have an affirmation book open, a poster on the fridge. Whatever you need to do to make sure you are making time, space and a non-negotiable moment to improve yourself, your mental health and your well-being.

If you need some help putting these nudges together or helping your employees create positive habits get in touch – sophie@theholistichealthcaregroup.com