In recent posts I’ve focused on how to get more done with your precious time. I’ll finish this theme with a quick chat about how to increase your productivity even more by turning regular tasks into habits.
Turning worthwhile tasks into habits will help you establish good practice that will benefit your business and eliminate the bad practice that harms it.
The beauty of a habit is that you don’t have to think about it – you just do it. Your morning routine of cleaning your teeth, taking a shower and so on isn’t something you have to think about and make yourself do. And over time you’ll do it more efficiently and more effectively.
As we’ve grown up most of us have established a whole plethora of good habits that we just do without much thought and which benefit us in some way. So why not establish habits that will benefit our business in some way?
What tasks that if you did on a regular basis, whether daily or weekly, would benefit your business?
Would your business benefit if you…
- Called your customers on a regular, say fortnightly, basis to see how things are and if they need more of what you offer?
- Checked your key metrics each week to see that you’re on course?
- Planned your priorities for the next day at the end of the current one?
- Set aside time each month to identify new prospects, to assess the results of your marketing efforts, to check the key trends in your markets, to take a look at what your competitors are doing, to learn something new?
Turning something in to a habit takes time and effort and can easily not become a habit if not given long enough time and focus to become embedded into your psyche. (Most New Year resolutions, to exercise more for example, fail because of this.)
Some habits are easier to establish than others. I recently had a minor eye operation and now I have to clean my eyes each morning in a certain way to ensure the problem doesn’t re-occur. It’s straightforward and has quickly become routine and almost a habit.
Others are more of a challenge. I try to play the guitar and drums everyday for at least 20 minutes. It works pretty well for the guitar, although I wouldn’t yet call it a habit, but isn’t anywhere near working yet for the drums.
With my work, if I’m not out and about then every morning I’ll spend the first hour or so writing. At the end of the day I’ll review what I’ve achieved and check and adapt my weekly plan so that I know what I need to do the next day. And I’ll set aside Friday afternoons to stepping back from my business to review it or to learn something new.
When you think about the regular tasks you should be turning into habits, think too about your current habits that whether they are helping or harming your business.
For example, most people habitually open their email box first thing and check their latest emails. This is a terrible habit as it can suck you in and waste the first couple of hours of your day. It makes you reactive to the demands of others and you hand over your precious time to the control of others. Doing this can also kill that initial creative energy we have in the morning and impact all that you intended to do that day.
Really – if your first habit is to check your emails then please stop.
Identify these bad habits so that you become better at avoiding them. If your weakness is to check your social media accounts or the latest cat videos on YouTube then when you’re about to do just that, get up and walk away. Take a few minutes – make a drink, do some sit-ups, read an article – anything that properly breaks that action you were about to take.
Then reset your mind back to what you should be doing and get back to it.
When establishing a new habit, it’s a good idea to set it in your calendar as a repeat event that alerts you when it’s time to perform the task.
I used to have that for my daily morning writing but no longer and I still have a Friday afternoon step back alert to remind me in case my head is elsewhere. And my phone reminds me at 5pm that I probably haven’t played my drums yet today and should go and have a play.
Turning regular tasks into habits can really help you stay on top of those things you should be doing that will benefit you and your business.
Make a list of the regular tasks you should be doing including things that you may not have thought of such as setting aside Friday afternoons to think about your business or learn something new.
Create repeat events in your calendar and receive alerts to remind you of these productive habits until there comes a time when you begin these tasks without thinking.
And don’t forget to review your current habits and do your best to break the bad ones as soon as possible.