I split my time between the suburbs of New York and a 7,000-foot high ski town in Utah. Just by changing my environment – going out west – I lose five pounds and adopt a healthier lifestyle. Just by going back east, I exercise less and gain a few extra pounds.
I’m the same person in different environments.
There are 400 miles of biking and hiking trails in Park City, all within about 15 minutes. When you socialize with people, they ask you about your latest outside adventures.
In and around New York, people ask about your job or your kids.
“Your environment always wins,” says management coach, Mary Engel. “The secret to getting what you want is to design an environment that supports it.”
I go out west not only because I love it, but also because it is the fastest and most effective way for me to ditch my bad habits and embrace good ones.
There are many ways to shift your environment. You can change your:
- Physical workspace
- Organizational system
- Time management
If you are seeking increased productivity – and a bit more sanity – this last point may be the easiest and fastest shift you can make. Engel offers many ideas about taking control of your time, such as:
- Only allow yourself to check email three times a day.
- To quiet your environment, shut your door and/or turn off your phone.
- Replace free time with “me” time; block out chunks of time to do exactly what you want.
Changing your environment is a lot easier than changing individual habits, beliefs or attitudes. If you hang around with people who absolutely love to eat and drink, you are going to eat and drink too much. But if you hang around with people who like to get up at 5 a.m. and hike up a mountain before work, you won’t have to worry about dieting or going to the gym.
Long ago, I was thrust into a high pressure role in which I had to manage many vendors, marketing campaigns and media buys. My natural inclination is to be informal and not especially organized, but it only took me a week to realize that acting like that would cause near-instant failure. I quickly set up a formal filing and organizational system, and transformed my office from a casual workspace to something more like a command center.
In the three years that followed, all I had to do was adhere to the system I set up in week two.
If you fight your environment, one of two things will happen:
- You will fail.
- You will work harder – and suffer more – than is necessary.
For example, if you are a sensitive person who works with selfish Type A colleagues, you will never be happy and always be stressed out. Instead of finding better stress management techniques, you will be better off finding a new job in a more supportive organization. Even if it takes you a year or two to do this, it is the right move.
Your environment always wins.
Our world is flooded with self-help formulas, career guides, and productivity theories. A few of them actually work. But none of them work as fast or as well as this simple truth:
Change your environment, change your results.
This article was written by Bruce Kasanoff from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.