Jim Rohn famously said, “Motivation is what gets you started, habit is what keeps you going.” If you’re spending time looking to be inspired, while falling short on your work output, then it’s time to start creating better productivity habits.
Why Productivity Habits are Important
One night, a storm blows through and knocks out the power in your neighborhood. Yet, as you walk into the dark kitchen, you reach for the light switch. You don’t have to think about it, you just do it.
Habits are the brain’s way of automating tasks. The purpose of a habit is to conserve energy.
According to a study by Duke University, you spend about 45% of your day doing something automatic. Think about that for a minute. You are spending almost half of your day subconsciously taking action.
If that action is positive, you’ll get positive results. But if that action is negative—well, I think you get what I mean.
The good news is you have the ability to create the habits that will shape your life. That is both personally and professionally.
When it comes to your business, establishing good productivity habits will help you make more progress more quickly with less struggle.
Habits, Not Hacks
In your desire to be more efficient in business, you may have done some research on how to be more productive. You likely found articles that shared productivity hacks.
Hacks are tricks or shortcuts that are meant to help you increase your efficiency. And while certain hacks can be helpful, that’s not what I’m talking about.
I’m talking about productivity habits. In other words, the instinctive behaviors you can develop that will carry you through when the motivation isn’t there. Let’s face it, being motivated and inspired isn’t enough.
5 Essential Productivity Habits for Solopreneurs
Anyone can create the right productivity habits. But you have to have a little patience with yourself. It takes time to cultivate new habits. And it takes practice.
At first, you’ll likely experience resistance to the new habit you’re trying to create. It may feel uncomfortable. You may think, “how can this become a habit when I have to think about what I’m doing so much?”
That’s all normal. Don’t give up.
And if you’re not sure where to start, I’ve got five productivity habits below that you can choose from.
Create Strong Daily Rituals
Productivity habit #1 is to create strong daily rituals. Rituals are just like routines. They are a sequence of actions taken in a particular order. What makes a routine a ritual is an intention behind it. In other words, a ritual is more purposeful in nature.
Michael Hyatt says, “It’s best to think of rituals as prescribed procedures for achieving specific results. They don’t guarantee results, but they do set us up the best possibility of success.”
The length of time a ritual takes or how many actions you stack together in your ritual don’t matter as much as what that ritual is helping you do.
For example, the purpose of my morning ritual is to get me in the right frame of mind and mood so that I can have a happy day. My happiness helps me stay connected to “my why”, so that I can get work done and keep negativity at bay.
My ritual is fairly long. I can have a long ritual because I wake up very early and the stage of life I’m in allows for that. I’m an empty-nester!
However, if you’re a busy mom with kids to get out the door, your morning ritual might be to wake up 10 minutes before everyone else so you can enjoy a cup of tea in the quiet of the morning. The intention being to be centered and calm before the hustle of the morning.
Rituals should be whatever works for you. So figure out what you need and start simply. One small action is all it takes to start.
If you’d like to learn about the five daily rituals I’ve created in my day, you can read or listen to this podcast episode 5 Daily Rituals to Help You Be More Productive.
Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan
Productivity habit #2 is to plan your work and then, work your plan. Starting your workday not knowing what you want to accomplish is a bad idea. When you don’t plan ahead you fall prey to
- Other people’s priorities
- Wasting time on tasks that don’t really matter
- And more!
Planning doesn’t have to be a long, belabored process. Simply taking 5 minutes at the end of your workday to write down what you want to accomplish the next day will save you time and help you make consistent progress every day.
It’s a simple habit to create. You can use the Daily Achievers’ Weekly Action Planner to help you focus your efforts to make it even easier.
Productivity Habit #3 is to take short breaks throughout your day. When you have a lot to do, it can feel counterintuitive to get up from your desk and walk away for a bit. Add to that the “hustlepreneur” mentality that is so coveted and it’s no wonder you work yourself half to death.
The truth is, working through your fatigue and frustration will not help you be more productive. There is a lot of research on the importance of taking breaks throughout the day.
Some of the benefits of taking breaks are
- Reduced decision-fatigue
- Increased creativity
- Better work productivity
- Improved memory
- Higher motivation
So make the habit of taking short breaks throughout your work blocks and make time for a real lunch. This is an easy productivity habit to implement. And you’ll really benefit in the long run.
Use Self-Assessment as a Tool for Self-Improvement
Productivity habit #4 is to use self-assessment as a tool for self-improvement.
Peter Drucker has been quoted to say, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” And if you aren’t assessing yourself, then you can’t manage yourself.
That is to say, you can’t know what is working and what isn’t working unless you look at your stuff. You can’t know what to spend your time on and what you should stop doing unless you take a personal inventory of sorts.
Create the habit of asking yourself these four questions at the end of your workweek:
- What went well?
- Why did it go well?
- What didn’t go well?
- Why didn’t it go well?
An honest assessment will give you the data you need to make significant improvements to HOW you work. What you stop doing is just as important as what you spend time doing.
And remember, the purpose of self-assessment is to collect information to use in the development of better work practices. It’s not to be used to judge, chastise, or beat yourself up.
Ask for Help When You Need It
Finally, productivity habit #5 is to ask for help when you need it. A long to-do list is a common struggle for solopreneurs.
Of course, there’s a lot to do when you own a business. But who said that you had to do it all yourself? Well, you don’t.
Instead of putting pressure on yourself to be all-knowing and all-doing, create the habit of asking for help when you need it. There are lots of ways to get help.
Here are a few:
- Hire a full-time or part-time virtual assistant to help with tasks you don’t do well or like doing.
- Leverage a virtual assistant agency like Belay or Prialto where you can find trained professionals to help with anything from social media services to bookkeeping services.
- Work with a mentor or coach who can help you get clear on where to focus your attention and action.
- Outsource parts of your business that you can’t do yourself like web design or graphics creation.
Your time is best spent on tasks in which you excel. So stop trying to do it all and work with people who can help you grow and succeed. There’s never been an easier time to find resources to help you in business.
Your Productivity Habits Will Make Business Easier
Creating good productivity habits will save you time and make business easier. But start small. You won’t be able to change all of your habits at once.
Spend a few minutes deciding what productivity habit you’d like to create first. Then begin to put it into practice. Be patient with yourself as you practice this new work habit. Soon you’ll take the action without thinking about it. And you’ll be better off in the long run.