The 1% six week plan

There is a popular concept right now called the “aggregation of marginal gains”.  The founder behind this concept is Dave Brailsford, General Manager and Performance Director for Team Sky (Great Britain’s professional cycling team).  The aggregation of marginal gains is explained as “the 1 percent margin for improvement in everything you do.”  Back in 2010, Brailsford believed that if the members of Team Sky could make 1% improvements in every area of cycling, that overall these gains would add up to significant improvement.  And it did – in three years’ time, Bradley Wiggins of Team Sky won the Tour de France, and the following year, his teammate, Chris Froome, continued the winning streak.

This concept is a great one for implementing ergonomics into your daily life.  Good ergonomics comes from many small changes in habit that add up to measurable benefit.  Many people turn to ergonomics for a quick fix which can occur sometimes, but the biggest gains come from the small changes in habit you make every day.

To improve your work habits using the 1% rule, it’s best to tackle one habit at a time and master each improvement before you move on to the next one.  That way the changes don’t become overwhelming and your mind and body have time to get used to things and solidify the new good habits.

One drawback of the 1% rule is not seeing the positive results quickly.  Due to our human nature, it’s much more satisfying to have an immediate fix, than to inch towards something.  But if your can track your gains towards an achievable outcome – pain-free work at your desk – you can see your progress and feel excited about achieving your goal.  Remember, incrementally you developed poor desk habits, now it’s time to incrementally get rid of them.

The best way to see your gains and to achieve your outcome is to follow a goal schedule.  That way you can see your improvement and it keeps you on track to achieve that perfect ergonomics set up.

Here’s a sample schedule for office work you can follow:


Week Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
1 Imagine you are a puppet with a string on top of your head – sit up straight     Set a timer and get up from your desk every hour  
2   Learn a keyboard shortcut to reduce mouse use     Stop cradling your phone between your shoulder and neck
3     Set a timer and change position in your chair every 15 minutes    
4 Stop hovering your hands over your keyboard and mouse – relax when reading the screen     Learn a keyboard shortcut to reduce mouse use  
5   Limit your tablet and smartphone use – 10 minutes per session and 60 minutes total per day     Don’t perch on your chair – sit with your back against your back rest
6   Learn a keyboard shortcut to reduce mouse use     Go for a walk at lunchtime


If you’ve already mastered a habit, congratulations! – move on to the next one.  If you can’t master a habit in the number of days allotted, take a few more days and make sure you get it right.  Add to this schedule as needed and leave a comment about your tip to help others.

If you can stick with it and make those gains regularly, your meaningful change will definitely come your way.  Every 1% eventually adds up to 100.