3 Rituals To Adopt During The Coronavirus Crisis That Increase Productivity
Article Published: forbes.com
Morale and feelings of connection are at an all-time low for employers and employees right now as workers deal with the effects of working from home in isolation.
And so, the importance of keeping to a routine to improve well-being has been, and is discussed the world over: get dressed, take daily walks, make a healthy dinner. But, evidence now suggests routines don’t help: rituals do, for they stir emotional responses deep within our mental psyche.
Habits, routines, and rituals
A habit is an action that requires little thinking. Once formed, it typically occurs under the auspices of an individual’s autopilot. Recent examples adopted en masse include washing hands upon entering one’s home, wearing a mask before riding the subway, and maintaining sufficient social distance from others.
A routine is not a habit.
A routine is a series of habits that join together to create a sequence. For example, consider your morning routine: you wake up, move into the bathroom, get dressed, make your bed, and then eat breakfast – one habit following the next, and thus creating a routine. Consequently, routines regulate your day, helping it to run smoothly.
But it’s important to recognize that a ritual differs from a routine because, according to Tonya Dalton, productivity expert and best-selling author of The Joy of Missing Out, a routine adds a much-needed joy factor. Rituals, she suggests, are something people look forward to. “If routines are about a series of actions or things we need to get done, then rituals are actions with meaning or emotion attached to them.”
Why rituals increase productivity
Rituals are a useful productivity tool, says Dalton, because they help transition people from one activity to another.
They are, using the psychological premise of competency levels, the fourth level, or “unconscious competence” – which is that sense of flow we feel when thoughts and ideas come naturally to us. When people reside in this state, they are most in tune with who they are and subsequently produce their best output.
However, shifting into this unconscious competence state does not happen with a flick of a switch. You can’t sit down at your desk and say, “Ok, it’s time to be creative,” observes Dalton. That’s why many genius minds use rituals to ease their brains into work. For instance, best-selling author Stephen King completes a pre-writing ritual before he switches into writing mode each day. If you’ve read Stephen King, you know his stories are supernatural and extremely creative. For him, he uses his ritual to switch his mind into his dream-like creative mode.
Another famous example is Winston Churchill. Even during wartime, Churchill continued a ritual where each day at 17:00, he would drink a whiskey and soda, followed by a 2-hour sleep. A notorious night-owl, Churchill used this ritual to transition from his day’s work into his night’s work. By doing this, he fit 1.5 days of work into a 24-hour day.
How to create a ritual that makes sense for your team
Creating a ritual that works for your organization doesn’t need to be complicated. The first step is to consider the routines your organization already has. For example, do you begin the week with a team meeting, end the week with an all-team recap? Perhaps you operate a lunch-and-learn every Thursday or a budget meeting every Tuesday?
Make a list of the daily, weekly, or monthly routines you already have in place. Then, explore how you can elevate these to the status of a ritual. Consider how you can change it up or add a component that will deliver feelings of joy or pleasure to your employees. If you need some help, here are three ideas to get you started.
1. Instead of your standard mid-week or end of week team meeting try making it festive – host a virtual happy hour or coffee hour, pick a different employee each week to share funny stories and photos from their quarantine life.
2. Set up virtual lunch dates regularly with your employees and talk about anything but work – it will give your employees that feeling of connection they may be short on right now.
3. Set up a team slack channel where team members can post quarantine photos, recipes, games, and more. At the end of the week, have employees vote on their favorite post and award that person a gift card.
About Scott Livengood
Scott Livengood is the owner and CEO of Dewey’s Bakery, Inc., a commercial wholesale bakery with a respected national brand of ultra premium cookies and crackers.
Previously, Scott worked at Krispy Kreme Doughnuts for 27 years, starting as a trainee in 1977. He was appointed President of the company in 1992, then CEO and Chairman of the Board.
Scott has served on numerous boards including the Carter Center, the Calloway School of Business and the Babcock School of Management, Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County, and the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce.
He started a new business, StoryWork International, in 2016 with Richard Stone. The signature achievement to date is LivingStories, a story-based program for improved patient experiences and outcomes in partnership with Novant Health.