"Atomic Habits” to Strengthen & Support a Low D Factor - PI Midlantic

“Atomic Habits” to Strengthen & Support a Low D Factor

“My lowest PI Factor is my D (Formality/Structure).  What can I do to better stay on track, stay organized, and follow up on work projects?” 

I’ve been asked this many times over the 20+ years I’ve been a consultant, first with Augur, Inc., and now PI Midlantic.  Even people with High D Factors can need help staying organized and on track, but for those of us with Low D’s (especially what has been referred to as a “dangling D”) it is often one of the biggest things that gets in the way of our effectiveness in the workplace.

How often do you wake up at 3am and think about the things you need to remember to do when you get to your desk?  Yet by the end of that day, how many of them are still not completed?

Over the years, I’ve found some practices that work for me.  I’ll share them here so you can pick one or two and give them a try.  Of course, consistency is the key to any of these practices.  Some of them sound ridiculously simple, yet they are often the hardest things to do consistently.

If you haven’t read “Atomic Habits” by James Clear, I highly recommend it.  This book gives you easy ways and a simple system to break your bad habits and replace them with good habits.  Clear outlines four simple “Laws” for doing that.

Law #1 – Make it obvious

Law #2 – Make it attractive

Law #3 – Make it easy

Law #4 – Make it satisfying

All of the “Laws” are important, but Law #4 is where good habits are truly created.  Clear writes that our brains are still the same as our caveman ancestors.  We are hardwired to look for immediate reward and avoid punishment“What is immediately rewarded is repeated.  What is immediately punished is avoided.”  Immediate rewards aren’t always possible in the middle of your work day, but there are ways to “reward” good habits.  For example, if you want to make 10 prospecting calls today, take two jars and place 10 paper clips in one jar.  As you complete a prospecting call, take one paper clip and move it to the other jar.  There’s a good feeling every time you move a paper clip to the other jar.  By the end of the day, you’ll have a sense of satisfaction seeing all the paper clips in the formerly empty jar.  Small changes over time create big results. When one of those prospects turns into a client, reward yourself with something enjoyable (a massage, dinner with a friend at a favorite restaurant, a manicure and pedicure, etc.).

Atomic Habits I’ve Implemented Over the Past Years:

Set up your work environment to make it easy to stay organized

Look at your current work station. How easy and enjoyable does it make it for you to do the most important aspects of your work?  My home office is in a small, well-lighted area – approximately 10’ x 10’.  In that space, I have my desk (with an adjustable top so I can stand and work when desired), a printer on top of a six-drawer rolling cabinet, an old metal four-drawer vertical file cabinet, and an armoire to store supplies and paper.  Everything is within easy reach when I’m at my desk.  Placing my desk so it faces the window lets me enjoy sunlight and a peaceful scene.  What small changes or enhancements would make your work environment more enjoyable and effective?

Reclaim and color code your calendar

We’ve all heard the parable about “is the jar full?” Just like that jar, your calendar should be controlled by the “rocks” you put in first.  Those rocks are the MUST DO things – the “pebbles, sand, and water” can fill in around those rocks. What are your MUST DO things for the week or month?  When I’m facilitating a client training or team session, I block that off and then work backwards to block off the chunks of time I’ll need to prepare for that training session. I also like to block off time to think, plan, and re-organize.  If I have a goal to make a certain number of client calls in a week, I block off those chunks of time so I don’t let other, less important things, consume that time.  I’ve also color-coded my calendar for years.  Yellow is for my Predictive Index tasks.  Pink is for personal appointments.  Green is for my coaching work.  At a glance, I can see how my time is being spent and whether I need to dedicate more time to any area of work, based on the results I want to see.

When you are done with a piece of paper, immediately put it where it belongs

I know this can be hard with so many of us jumping from one Zoom or Teams call to the next without even a few minutes in-between.  If you have one of those days, plan to dedicate 20 minutes at the end of the day to put things where they belong.  You’ll be glad you did when you walk into your work space the next morning.  Obviously, if you can avoid paper and save your work or notes digitally, that’s even better.  Our new PI module (PERFORM) can be a great way to track meeting notes, goals, assign tasks, and give kudos to your team members.  If you haven’t seen what PERFORM can do, reach out to your consultant to set up a demonstration.

Set clear goals for the week/month & keep a To Do list

Keeping your To Do list in front of you and up-to-date is a great way to help stay on track. At the end of each day or the beginning of each day, update your list.  If you tend to wake up in the middle of the night worrying about something that needs to be done, update your list at the end of each day so you can you’re your thoughts and fall back to sleep, knowing that it’s written down and you will handle it first thing in the morning.  Whenever possible, complete the worst task or most important one first to get it out of the way.

Get support and suggestions from your High D friends and colleagues

I find it interesting that so many of my closest friends have a High D factor – often it’s their highest factor. I’ve picked their brains to find out some of the things they do at home or at work to stay organized.  Whatever it is they do, it is a habitthat they’ve formed.  Pick one habit that you think will work for you and make a commitment to do it each day for a month.   Something as simple as deleting emails that you don’t need to respond to or keep can make a big difference in keeping your work environment uncluttered and less stressful.  Maybe it’s a commitment to go through one old paper file each day and either scan the contents and save them or discard them.  Once again, the idea of color-coding files can make it easy to know when it’s time to get rid of them.

So, if you (like me) wish your D factor was just a little higher, I invite you to pick one idea from those listed above and give it a try for a month.  I’d love to hear from you about what YOU do to keep yourself organized, goal-oriented, and effective in your day-to-day work.

Joan Marshall, Talent Optimization Advisor- PI Midlantic

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