Rob Irons Headshot_Managing Partner at Bohler Engineering

From Resolution to Habit

Bohler’s efficiency guru and Divisional Partner Rob Irons shares his thoughts on the value of habits as we kickstart the new year.

A part of Bohler’s cultural fabric since 1993, Rob Irons leads the firm’s operations across New Jersey and Pennsylvania and is known for his love of habits and the efficiencies they generate. So as we enter into 2019, it felt like a great time to introduce Rob and seek some nuggets of wisdom around forming and maintaining good habits.

Rob, tell us how and why you’ve become so focused on habits?

I believe you can train your mind. The power of our subconscious and habits deliver a baseline consistency and productivity despite the shifting demands of our lives. Of course, we have situations that require us to flex, but if most of our day is guided by solid routines, we will be more capable of adapting and accomplishing our daily goals.

Time-tested and accepted procedures (habits) are the backbone of an efficient workflow process. They provide the consistency each employee can rely on as a trusted measure for completing a task which leads to a quality product, completed on time, that our clients and review agencies expect.

What is an example of a habit you use at work to improve performance?

An easy one is how I approach scheduling. If I accept a calendar invite to a meeting, for example, I want to be present, alert and prepared for that activity.

The key to an efficient meeting is that the participants show up prepared and ready to engage. Aside from preparing on a daily and weekly basis for scheduled events, I have built the habit of leaving buffers between meetings; both to allow changes in schedule and to give myself the time I need to arrive in the right mindset (and a few minutes early to prepare).

I get people trying to squeeze things into my calendar and I often decline those invites to maintain this habit. While it can frustrate some, I think the participants in the meeting I attend will tell you we get more done in less time and that’s the end game for me.

Why do you think so many people struggle with habits?

Distractions! The advancement of technology has added to our inability to focus on what’s important right now. For many, the great number of choices have overwhelmed our ability to manage ourselves. Many are so overcome, they don’t know where or how to start.

Can you suggest a great habit for clients to embrace when it comes to working with partners and consultants like Bohler?

We see a lot of clients that are very independent and some that are major collaborators. We can work with anyone and everyone, but when they start to shift styles along the way, it can send mixed signals and create risk.

I’d say a great habit that can create value in any project is to take the time on the front end to layout as much as you can about the project or effort at hand – and ask the consultant to repeat back what you share, as well as questions related to it. This one-time habit at the beginning of any major effort adds understanding, direction and clarity, and ensures that it was received as intended to avoid any unnecessary or unproductive efforts along the way.

What advice do you give to someone who wants to incorporate a new habit into their current routine?

The cornerstone of execution is follow through. Decide once and commit three times! This applies to new work or home routines. Research has shown that of all forms of human motivation, the most effective one is progress. A small tangible win creates momentum and encourages our belief in our own future success.

If you get into the topic, or you’re working on habit building, I’d also suggest the following:

  • Books: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, Essentialism by Greg McKeown, and Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
  • Apps: HabitMinder, Habit-Bull, Habitica

Click here to connect with Rob for more on habits or other ways his team can help you succeed.