“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

In my endless productivity quest with my business, Aristotle’s words have never been more spot on. I’ve learned how easy it is to get distracted and fall back into my old patterns { like spending way too much time on Instagram or creating content for the pure sake of just creating it }.

We are the habits that we repeatedly do. And good habits can make all the difference between promoting your new program on social media and falling down the Insta-story rabbit hole.

There’s a ton of tools out there to help you develop your social content calendar or to see what’s working with your Pinterest strategy.

But these are just the tools to help you get your stuff for work done quickly and easily.

To really get these tools to work, these programs need to be a part of a habit that you’ve created. Something that you’ll do without ever having to think about the steps you need to take.

 

What is a habit?

A habit is created when a number of action steps come together into a process.

When these actions are repeated enough times, this process becomes a habit. And when this habit happens enough times, it turns the behavior into something that goes into auto pilot, where you don’t even have to think about it anymore.

You just do it.

So what happened this past year as I’ve been more and more aware of my focus? What’s been going on in my Create Your Business world as I’m working through all the steps to get my subscription boxes created and sharing my products on social media?

I’ve developed some habits that have not only helped me stay focused, they’ve motivated me to keep moving and growing and getting the important things done.

 

The honest-to-goodness 5 habits that I do every day

1. Visual Habit Tracker

My favorite habit is watching my progress with my visual habit tracker.

I know that the term ‘visual habit tracker’ sounds like a fancy program but it’s really not. Mine is a simple printout of a calendar for the month where I can track the habits I’m trying to turn into a behavior that I don’t have to think about anymore.

I just do it.

The new habits I wanted to start were to eat better, say my affirmations every day and keep a close eye on my social sites { not just a monthly check-in }. So the days on my calendar become this mix of food notes, check marks from doing my affirmations and weekly follower counts.

Looking at my habit tracker every day reminds me what I actually did that day. Before I started tracking this on my habit calendar, I would end my day wondering did I really do these things or did I think that I did?

I admit there’s been a few days when I haven’t been able to get these things done so I left that day blank.

And that’s where the motivation sets in – those empty squares in my calendar were starting to bug me so I made an extra effort the next week to do all my new habits.

 

2. Tracking My Time

I started to track my time last year. I wanted to see how long the action steps I was doing with my social updates were taking – and it wasn’t what I thought it was taking.

I thought I could knock out a batch of images for Instagram in about 30 minutes. But when I tracked my work, it took twice as much time. The whole process took me over an hour!

And now that I know this information, I can block off the right amount of time in my schedule and see what I can do to streamline my steps and be more efficient with my time.

 

3. Prioritize My Day

My priority system is not like most solopreneurs. I don’t just work through a list until I’m done. I do things differently.

My priority habit starts like this: First thing in the morning, I look at my calendar to see what absolutely needs to get done that day.

Then – here’s where it gets different – I see how much time I have to get my work done.

I review my planner and ask myself, “Do I have client calls, am I teaching a workshop or taking care of something with my son that day? What’s going on today that will take my focus off the work on my desk?”

And that’s how I prioritize my day.

I base the order I work on things by on how much time I have to work uninterrupted at my desk. Then I run down my to-do list of stuff { making sure I’m not missing any deadlines } and find pockets of time to fit those tasks into my day.

Since I’ve been tracking my time, I know how much each of these things will take me so I know when to work on what project when I have enough time to get it done.

 

4. Guard My Time

I know how distracting it can be to constantly be checking emails and logging into Facebook.

In a study from the University of California Irvine, researchers monitored workers on the job and studied what happened when they were distracted.

Here’s what study lead Gloria Mark told Fast Company about the results:

You have to completely shift your thinking, it takes you a while to get into it and it takes you a while to get back and remember where you were …We found about 82 percent of all interrupted work is resumed on the same day. But here’s the bad news — it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task.

I wouldn’t be surprised if it took me longer than 23 minutes to get back to my work. So now, I guard my time and block off certain times of the day to check email, go into the Facebook group I manage and respond to messages.

I’m also aware of my top energy times of the day and do my best to NOT use that time to do low-energy work like checking emails or posting in my Facebook groups.

I’ve learned that my time is precious and when I use it wisely, I get more done in my day.

 

5. Take Productive Breaks

I used to work straight through the day.

Eating both breakfast and lunch at my desk and taking a 10 minute break to step away from the computer { which was mostly, getting my breakfast or lunch together to bring into my office! }.

I would end the day saying, “Hey look at me getting so much done!” And that worked great for the first few months – until the burnout set it.

Then I’d take a day off and start back up again with my ‘work through the day’ schedule.

But seriously, was I really getting more done by pushing myself to work more hours?

Not really. Eventually, it took its toll on my energy level and even during what I consider my high-energy hours of the day. It was starting to be a struggle to focus.

So now I take productive breaks AWAY from the laptop.

I make time for a 30 minute lunch and then in the afternoon, I plan a 20 minute break to walk my dogs. Getting outside in the fresh air helps me feel recharged and it even gives me an extra boost to keep me going until the end of the day.

 

Want more tips to get more done in your day?

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The Create Your Business box is the tool for you when you’re ready to take back control of your minutes. You’re ready to take back control of your schedule. You’re ready to take back the power you feel like you’ve lost to that social game that’s hard to beat.