Season 2: Unlocking productivity

Mike Coulter Creative Director, Small Business Owner, Tiny Habits® Coach

Why taking baby steps builds better habits

how tiny habits lead to big changes

I’ve been using the Tiny Habits® Method to get better results in my personal and professional life for about five years now. 

It still works as beautifully, in all situations, as it did the very first time I sat down at my desk and took it for a, somewhat sceptical, trial run. 

I was working on a super-demanding project and, astonishingly, by applying this method into my day, my productivity went through the roof. I went from my F game to my A game.  

So, what is a Tiny Habit?  

Well for starters, it’s the brainchild of a Stanford University Professor, BJ Fogg. As a research scientist specialising in human behaviour, he’s the best in the business. 

And what he came up with is the fastest, most reliable, most validated habit formation system ever. 

A key insight in this method for me, was his advice to match myself to habits I already wanted to do. Why? Then I don’t have to artificially amp up my motivation. Why? Because I already want to do the habit. (A slap of the forehead moment for me.) 

BJ also advises the importance of doing something that is super-easy. Why? Because easy stays easy. And, as our ability grows we can increasingly do harder things leading to new full-blown habits. 

When it comes to designing new habits, one size definitely doesn’t fit all. So I’ll give you lots of real-life examples of how much choice, flexibility and variation the method offers for creating different habits. But first, here’s a simple and handy Tiny Habits hack to help you apply this method. 

Recipes help you to remember 

Tiny Habits are expressed in what we call a “recipe”. 

A recipe simply consists of using a reliable routine, or existing habit you already have (like pouring your morning coffee) to remind you to do a small behaviour (like take three mindful breaths). 

Here are a few other ideas you could try out today to help you be on your A game. But there are hundreds available to you in all areas of our lives: stress reduction, weight loss, sleep, relationships, parenting, business development, exercise, how to be a better manager, to name but a few. 

The trick here is experimenting, iterating, and discovering the best habits for YOU.

Notice how initially we’re not going for the big score. The secret is to believe in baby steps, then grow the size of the habit over time, once consistency and automaticity of the tiny behaviour has wired in. 

Tiny work habits to win the day 

“After I hear my alarm in the morning, I will get up without hitting snooze.” 

“After I sit down at my desk, I will put my phone on silent.” 

“After my team gets together for a meeting, we will ALL put our phones on silent.” 

“After I sit down at my desk, I will look up my most important task of the day.” 

“After I pull out my most important task of the day, I will set a timer to work on it.” 

“After I put on my headphones, I will close all unnecessary windows on my computer.” 

“After I empty my water glass, I will refill it.” 

“After I check my calendar, I will put a red highlight on my must-not-miss appointments.” 

“After I read an email I can’t deal with immediately, I will mark it as unread.” 

“After I see a colleague has done a great job, I will send a quick note or emoji.” 

“After I turn my computer off for the day, I will file one set of papers.” 

“After I lock the doors at night, I will think of one (or more), things that went well today.’’ 

Making these small changes in my daily routine changed everything for me, in my personal life and the day job.  

I hope it does the same for you.