Approach & Process

Applying Tiny Habits to organisations — B = 🌟 + 💪🏼 + 🔔

Human behaviour is notoriously difficult to change. That's why we have sayings, like "habits die hard". With a series of steps, we attempt to break that myth in this article. Read on to know more about building new habits and breaking out of old ones.

May 17, 2021
Written by
Natali Andersen

The idea that it's difficult to build and break habits is based off the fallacy that you have to make massive changes to see results. In this article, we'll be referring to the book Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg, where he talks about the Fogg Behavioural Model and the Tiny Habits Method. We hope to show you that you and your team can implement the method and start seeing results right away, both at home and work.

Humans find it difficult to enact, even accept incremental progress. We fall under the misconception that we need to get our act together and pull up by our bootstraps to do better, right?

According to BJ, big expectations on habit change are often unrealistic, which becomes a recipe for disappointment and self-criticism. This is why he is a huge advocate for making tiny changes instead.

Read more about how Tiny Habits can enable Corporate Wellness here.

What is all the fuss with habit change?

Tiny habit: The Small Changes That Change Everything, is a book written by behavioural scientist, BJ Fogg. He believes in implementing positive and realistic plans to change habits in a sustainable way.

Learn more about BJ through his TEDx talk here:

What is the Fogg Behavioural Model?

The Fogg Behavioural Model works on the basis that behaviour happens when three things come together at the same moment: Motivation, Ability, and a Prompt.

Visit TinyHabits to learn more

BJ gives this example in his book to explain how the model works:

"Suppose you want someone to donate to the Red Cross. If they have high motivation, and if it’s easy for that person do to, they will be here in the upper-right corner of the model. When a person here gets prompted to donate, they will do the donation behavior. "

"In contrast, if someone has low motivation to donate to the Red Cross, and if it’s hard for them to do, they will be here in the lower-left corner. When that person is prompted, they will not do the behavior."

"There’s a relationship between motivation and ability. This curved line, called the Action Line, shows that relationship. If someone is anywhere above the Action Line when prompted, they will do the behavior. In this case, they will donate to the Red Cross. However, if they are below the Action Line when prompted, they won’t do the behavior."

How do you apply the Tiny Habit Method to your life?

Based on this model, BJ developed the Tiny Habits Method, which consists of building habit recipes that following this structure:

"After I ____, I will ____. Then, I celebrate!"

Some sample habit recipes you can start with:

  1. After I brush my teeth, I will floss one tooth.
  2. After I open the fridge, I will touch the healthiest thing I could eat in that moment.
  3. After I return to my desk from using the toilet, I will clear one item from my desk.
  4. After I press the “Brew” button on my coffee maker, I will set out my vitamins for later in the day.
  5. After I put my dinner plate in the dishwasher, I will text a friend and let them know I am thinking of them.

Learn more about habit recipes here:

The secret ingredient to habit change is emotion

The central thesis of BJ's book is that emotions create habits, not repetition, but emotion.

"You change best by feeling good—not by feeling bad."

He describes the great, positive emotion you feel when you are successful as Shine.

"You brain releases neurochemicals and takes notice when you have that strong positive reaction, which is what wires the habit—not repetition."

Basically, when you celebrate effectively, you tap into the reward circuitry of your brain. By feeling good at the right moment, you allow your brain to recognise and encode the sequence of behaviours you just performed.

BJ teaches us that the best way to form a habit faster is to celebrate at three specific times: the moment you remember to do the habit, when you’re doing the habit, and immediately after completing the habit.

Here are some ways you can celebrate to create Shine:

  1. Say, “Yes!” while you do a fist pump
  2. Drum a happy beat on a wall or desk
  3. Imagine your mom giving you a big hug
  4. Do a subtle head nod
  5. Pretend you just nailed a half-court shot

Read more about the emotion 'shine' and celebrations here:

How starting tiny can lead to personal transformation

BJ best describes how tiny habits can lead to personal transformation in his interview with NPR here.

"When you learn how to feel good about your successes, no matter how tiny, then that changes how you think about yourself and your opportunities. That's what leads to transformation.

Even if it's super-tiny, you start thinking of yourself in those ways, you find other opportunities to tidy up or meditate or read. So the habit naturally propagates to other parts of your life.

That as you make these changes and feel successful, the way you think about yourself starts to change, your identity starts to change. So you begin to think, "Oh, I'm the kind of person who tidies up" or "I'm the kind of person who meditates" or "I'm the kind of person who reads."

How you can start implementing Tiny Habits for your organisation

Here's a list of the top 10 habits recipes you can start implementing in the office or at home now.

  1. After I see it’s past three p.m., I will drink water instead of coffee
  2. After I notice a meeting topic getting stuck in abstractions, I will say, “Just to clarify, we’re designing for X, right?”
  3. After an employee comes to me with a problem, I will say, “What do you think is the best way forward?”
  4. After I complete the hiring paperwork for new employees, I will add their birthday to my calendar.
  5. After I select my top priority for the day, I will start my Pomodoro timer.
  6. After I sit down with my coffee, I will open my journal.
  7. After we receive positive feedback from a customer, we will print the e-mail and pin it to the kudos board in the break room.
  8. After we schedule a team meeting, we will send out an e-mail asking for agenda items.
  9. After I notice a call going on for longer than expected, I’ll say this script: “It’s been great to talk, but I need to wrap up. What haven’t we covered yet that’s important?”
  10. After I hear people’s names in the meeting, I will write them down and use them.