If you’re not getting the results you expect for yourself or your business, look to your habits and behaviours.
Excellence then is not an act but a habit.
When we review our performance we often have a tendency to look at things ‘out there’ to explain why things didn’t go as planned: Facebook keep changing the rules; Amazon Kindle is saturated; no-one gives you the whole picture; my coach let me down; I wasn’t told about xyz; whatever. These may have an element of truth in them but frequently they are excuses.
Look at how you spend your time.
Look at what activities you regularly perform.
Look at what you focus on.
Do you have a planned set of tasks for the day or do you start with good intentions and get sidetracked?
“Today I will create a 2 minute Tips video and load to YouTube then post on FB, Twitter, my blog. I will create a transcript of the video. I will write a blog post to position the video.”
Do you know what activities will bring you results?
– writing articles
– creating videos
– publishing books
– doing a podcast
– creating graphics
– commenting for backlinks
– performing SEO on your site
– outsourcing tasks
What are the most productive and profitable activities you can perform for your particular business?
Activities performed regularly are essentially habits.
“Every day I will write at least 500 words” develops the habit of writing.
Undertaking habits at the same point each day strengthens those habits. “Triggering” is a way to cement those habits. It’s about training your brain to go on autopilot. Example, what’s the first thing you do when you sit at your desk or in front of your laptop at the start of your day? If it’s checking emails or Facebook you’ll notice you tend to do that most days. That’s a habit. You’ve triggered that habit. ” When I sit at the computer to start work I check emails and follow links and download stuff” – and that’s what you do – it’s become habitual. You do it every day.
What if you retrained yourself to check your to-do list and performed one task straight after you sit at the desk or open the laptop? Would that be a better habit? A more productive one?
If you’re like many people, once you slip into checking emails and Facebook it’s a slide into distraction. Following links in emails or posts leads to signing up for something else or downloading something that sounds great but may not be exactly what you need right now for your business. Before you know it you’ve lost an hour or two and have fallen into an unproductive reactive passive state.
By the way, how much stuff is on your hard drive or cloud? Have you used it all? Do you have specific action plans to use it? If you can’t schedule to use it within the next week, don’t download it. If you must because you think you will “one day” then download it to a secondary storage drive where it won’t clutter your visual space.
Back to habits.
At the end of today, take ten minutes and reflect on your actions today. Think back to what you did and what triggered it. If it’s working for you, great, do more of it. If you reflect and wonder where the day went, resolve to change just one habit from tomorrow. Example, ‘before I finish for the day I will write out my top 3 productive tasks to get done tomorrow and schedule which to do first.’ Trigger is finishing for the day, habit is creating an actionable plan for getting stuff done the next day.
Once you bed in one new habit you can look at breaking some others that don’t serve you. Work on one at a time so you can really focus on building that habit muscle. Where to start? Either pick an easy one to change (maybe because the trigger event is so clear), or, pick the one that causes you most grief – the one that wastes your time or leads you into distraction.
I’ve subconsciously created the habit of checking Facebook (habit) after waking (trigger) while I’m in bed and I’ll get distracted, think of good ideas, crank out a blog post or create a graphic quote and post it … and before I know it, two hours have disappeared.
I know why I did it – I’m on the flip side of the world to most people I interact with on FB so I try to catch them when I wake. Yes, I’m productive when I do it. But is it fitting in with my plans? Is it advancing my business strategy? Am I gaining sales, publishing product, emailing my list to build relationships? No. On the scale of value they are low value activities and not necessarily part of a cohesive plan.
So, I need to change that habit in my view. Why? Because when I’ve finished doing it, I’m left with the feeling I’ve lost time, have been out of control in terms of the overarching business plan and have no time to exercise.
How can I change it?
My trigger is after I wake. So I need to find a more productive activity to do after I wake. I’d be far better getting up, having breakfast, doing some exercise then head into the office to start the day by grabbing my #1 productive todo for the day and kicking it off the list. So that’s my plan for changing my habit.
You also need to think of why you started that unproductive habit. For me, it was connecting with the northern hemisphere. So how can I still do that? Easy. Firstly, I can schedule posts to appear at the right time for them and I can create those during my day after I’ve done my key tasks. Secondly I want to keep building my network on FB so I can comment and chat with them in the evening before I go to sleep, while watching TV. I can schedule an hour at the end of the day to connect.
So what are your less-productive habits and how will you build better habits to push your business results forward?