Changing Work Habits

How do you react when when circumstances demand that you change the way you work?

Work processes, once learned, go into a semi-automatic mode that require only part of our brain power, and work flows along quite comfortably.  Then when the process gets changed, we become very uncomfortable and we may even feel frustration and some resistance.  I’ve experienced this numerous times in my life and work:

  • Learning to make a meal in the microwave.  I had to relearn everything I knew about cooking.
  • When our department upgraded from DOS to Windows, we had to move away from keyboard functions to mousing.  That was very painful.
  • When I shifted away from the paper appointment book to the Palm calendar.  That was sort of fun, and felt leading edge but meant a totally different way of working.
  • Learning to file elecronically.  There was a lot of reluctance here because I was never sure if I would ever find the item again.  It wouldn’t be at my finger tips when I needed it.

Well, recently I did it to myself again.

For various logical reasons, I decided to upgrade to Office 2007, and spent the better part of a week saying ” Where did that function go?”  Nothing automatic happening here.  At the same time, I moved to Google for my e-mail.  This meant a whole new way of thinking.  How does one make good use of labels or conversations rather than the old Outlook way?

And even more recently I’ve shifted from a Balckberry to an Android smart phone – from cable syncing to auto syncing.  Now I must learn how to ensure privacy and security.

This has prompted some reflection on breaking old habits and shifting to new ones.  How do we move from discomfort to mastery? I decided to chronicle my progress:

  1. First the researching and testing of various options.  Being really clear about why I’m making these changes.
  2. Final decision.  Making the shift from the old to the new all at once.   Being careful to make the change when there is time to experience the transition.
  3. Watching tutorials and getting a handle on the wide angle view.
  4. Trying to do a critical task quickly.  Can’t find anything…where did everything go?  Hunting and pecking and getting nowhere.  Frustration!!!  Desparation!
  5. Determination.  I’m stuck with it , so I’d better get on top of it.
  6. Remembering to make use of “Help”. How to…..?  Turn it into a game.  How fast can I discover how to do the usual things?  Now it’s sort of fun.
  7. The pride of knowing that I can figure it out. Also remembering that the learning curve will always slow us down, but will not overcome.
  8. Now the challenge and joy of discovering all the short-cuts one at a time and as needed.
  9. Remembering that the speed of change is accelerating, so I need to perfect this process.

Computer HappyMy conclusion?  Creating new brain pathways can be both painful and stimulating.  It’s definitely a way to maintain brain health and youth.