Are Your Habits Working For You Or Against You?

work habits

I have been reading a fascinating book about habits and how they are formed. Habits become entrenched in our subconscious and we end up doing many things automatically without even thinking about it.

work habitsTake driving your car. You have done it so many times that the process or method of driving your car becomes an automatic response – like a habit.

What about brushing your teeth? You have a routine when you wake up in the morning and part of that routine is to brush your teeth. You don’t stop to think about it – you just do it.

There are good habits but there are also bad habits.

Let’s think about our online business.

Good habits might be:

  • writing for an hour every day
  • responding to customers each day
  • setting time aside each month for planning a new product
  • analysing and testing results every month

These are good habits because they are moving you towards your ultimate goal – building and growing your business.

However, we may start with good intentions but it seems that good habits are easy to break and it’s not long before some bad habits begin creeping in.

Some bad habits:

  • spending too long reading emails
  • surfing the web aimlessly
  • spending hours on Facebook

The initial intention may be good – perhaps you are doing some research for your new product and are looking on the internet for ideas. However, you get distracted and hours go by before you realise that you haven’t actually been doing any research at all but rather going from one site to another reading other interesting articles.

Or maybe you are reading your emails to see if any customer needs help and before you know it you are caught up with the task of wadding through 100s of emails that you feel you ought to open just in case there is something important in there that you might miss.

We all do this! Ask any other online marketer and I am sure they will admit to it.

So what can you do about it? How can you go about creating and maintaining good habits?

Your Focus

I believe one of the most important parts is focus. You need to know what your purpose is and why it is important to you. So if you are opening your emails what is the purpose of it?

To respond to customers.

And why is that important?

To develop trusting relationships and demonstrate your availability and reliability.

And why is that important?

Because you want your customers to know that you are there to help them so that they will purchase from you again and again.

And why is that important?

Because without repeat customers in your business your income becomes limited and therefore your business becomes harder to sustain.

When you delve into the reasons why something is important to you it becomes clearer what the reward is to you.

Habits are easier to create if you understand what the reward is. Obviously the reward must be something that will motivate you.

If you find that another reward works better for you then use that instead. So with the example above, the reward is a thriving business. If you need something more tangible then perhaps your reward is making more money so that you can finally purchase something that you have really wanted for a long time. A holiday, make over, new kitchen, get your garden landscaped, a family event, etc.

When you focus on your reward day after day you can over time develop a routine. Once you know the routine you can create a cue for doing that routine.

Such as a specific time of day when you deal with email. Or a timer that pings to let you know that it is time for your email routine.

Over time you will become less likely to deal with your email until your cue goes off and since you have created a habit associated with that cue – i.e only dealing with customer queries because that is the thing that moves you closer to your reward, you will automatically perform that task and that task alone.

It sounds easy doesn’t it? Well it is and it isn’t! Old habits never go away! You can change them but the old ones will still be lurking around in your brain!

As soon as a cue for an old habit presents itself you will automatically go into that routine! So ideally you need to see what it is that initiates that old habit.

In the email example, it might be an email from a specific person. Once you see an email from them you automatically open it and that creates a domino effect and off you go on your email opening frenzy!

It might be better to unsubscribe from that person or create a filter so that their emails go straight into a folder so that you don’t see the email in your inbox. You could then go through that folder at some other allocated time if you believe there is valuable information there.

creating work habits

  • Look at your typical daily habits or routines for your business. Which ones do you want to keep and which ones are not actually working for you?
  • Decide to change those habits. How can you change it for the better (or remove it all together)? What reward will motivate you? What cue could you use to help you maintain the new habit?
  • What cues are reinforcing your bad habits? What can you do to remove those cues?

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