Learn How to Develop Tiny Habits While Working From Home

There is no shortage of resources to help us survive during this time of self-isolation and working from home. From setting up your home office, to being productive, and setting schedules — but how do we create new routines or habits?

Based on the research of Stanford University’s Dr. BJ Fogg and his Tiny Habits approach, Leadership Development Consultant Kate Hand outlines the ABCs of shifting our habits in a manageable way.


A is for anchor. Start by thinking about what the anchor moments are in your day. There are things that you do automatically, even during this new time of working from home, without even thinking about it.

You get up. And you likely have a routine around getting out of bed, eating breakfast, maybe you have coffee, or take a shower, or even have an exercise routine. These are your regular anchor moments that provide an opportunity for you to build in new behaviours.


B is for the new behaviour that you want to develop. Ask yourself, what is the habit you want to develop and figure out where it fits with your anchors. Remember, want is the key word. There is no could have, would have, should have! When you’re building tiny habits, there is no guilt.

The easiest way to start tiny habits is to identify the larger behaviour you want to integrate into how you live and work, and then break it down into smaller elements. Think of it like if your goal was to run a marathon. You wouldn’t start out one day and run the total distance of a marathon, you would break up the distance and start considerably smaller so each achievement was a win and would inspire you to keep going.


C is for celebration. Dr. BJ Fogg’s research found that it’s actually emotions that create habits. If the first time you do something, you feel successful and have a positive association with that behaviour, you are more likely to continue to do it, and eventually it becomes a habit.

Choose a celebration that works for you. It could be as simple or small as a whoo-hoo! That triggers your brain into feelings good about it, and your brain encourages you to do it again so you can feel good again. It’s important to celebrate immediately after you do the tiny habit so you can cement that association of celebration.

Some examples are: “After I sit down at my desk I will look at my To-Do list and say ‘You got this!’”

Sitting down at your desk is the anchor moment. You don’t think about doing it; it’s just something that you do automatically. If you want to build out a new behaviour about looking at the To-Do list (or opening the app, or calendar), you do it and then celebrate it to help you wire it into your brain. If I go on then to prioritize my tasks, or write extra ones down, or check them off as I go, then those are all bonus marks, and you get extra celebration.

Another example is, “After I finish a meeting, I will stand up and then smile.”

This is a great one to maybe take a little moment for yourself, relieve some stress, even stretch and relax. For example, after you finish a meeting, you might immediately stand up and smile. That is the tiny habit you’re forming. You may then go on to do a stretch, take a sip of water, maybe step away from my computer — whatever it would take to take care of yourself. And finally, an example for the end of the day. “After I close why laptop I will touch one item on my desk and then smile.”

It’s important to keep an uncluttered workspace so we can stay organized, and a quick way to help keep us all organized is to touch one item, and we celebrate that step. If you go on to then move that item, or file it, or recycle, you get extra bonus marks. If all you do is touch it, that’s okay too because you’re still building up to that marathon distance.

For more information, visit Kate Hand’s site at learningbyhand.ca and click on Tiny Habits.

By Staples Canada

May 06, 2020