The Power of Muscle Memory
Muscle memory occurs when, through repetition, the same steps for a task are completed again and again. Although your muscles have no direct memory, your brain remembers, allowing you to perform a task without conscious effort.
Having muscle memory makes our lives easier as tasks become second nature, however it can also have disadvantages.
Think about your day in the shop… how often do the following actions take place without much thought?
- You take a shortcut in your body filler prep by adding or reducing hardener
- You mix your body filler on cardboard
- You don't equalize and purge a 2-part cartridge
- You use the same hardener and flash time for your clears year-round, not adjusting for seasonal temperature changes You don't wear proper safety gear like gloves, masks, and paint suits
And the list goes on. We’re all guilty of developing habits as we go to work and complete the same tasks every day, but we don’t realize the negative impact those habits might have on the result. Though they might save a few minutes up front, if these shortcuts are consistently taken, muscle memory will include them as part of the learned process. Once these mistakes are embedded in the muscle memory, it becomes even harder to overcome later and creates resistance to change.
Take a few minutes and think about some of the muscle memories that might make you resistant to changing the way you do things. What are some simple adjustments you can make to create new muscle memory?
Changing and adapting to the correct or new way of doing things can be difficult. Early research suggested it takes 21 days to form a habit, but realistically it takes a minimum of 66 days and as many as 254 days. Just because you have done something the same way for years, does not mean it is necessarily correct.
Being aware of every step involved in your processes is the first step to breaking bad habits and initiating change in the shop. Breaking bad habits starts by consciously repeating things over and over until a new muscle memory is developed. The focus should be on quality, not quantity.
Improve quality and consistency in your repair processes by checking out our Resources page for product tips, safety regulations, and more.