Building Better Business Habits Using the Paperclip Strategy

Building Better Business Habits Using the Paperclip Strategy

Many of us struggle to beat bad habits (such as procrastination) and replace them with better ones (e.g. productivity, decisive action). 

James Clear of the Habits Academy says success is often the result of committing to the fundamentals over and over again. He says one of the most powerful ways to make this happen is with a visual cue. 

The paperclip strategy

Clear provides the example of a stockbroker. Every time he made a sales call, he would move one paperclip (visual cue) to an empty jar. He didn’t stop until the jar was full, and he repeated it daily. He was soon making a lot of money at quite a young age. 

Visual cues, whether they are a paper clip or another item, can: 

  • Remind you to start a behaviour. 
  • Enable you to build on your behaviour bit by bit, rather than waiting for inspiration and motivation. 
  • Provide evidence of your progress – a kind of built-in measuring and motivational system.  

Creating your own visual cues

If you struggle with motivation and decisive action, create your own paperclip strategy. For example, let’s say you need to send ten emails today – put ten paperclips in a container and move them to another empty container for each email you complete. As the new container fills up, you should get a sense of progress towards your goal. 

Best of all, this type of strategy can be used for just about any new habit you want to create – in your personal as well as your professional life.