We live in such an extremely fast paced world, that it is no surprise most people struggle to keep up with the daily demands. Having challenges with work life balance is now the norm. In fact, it is actually admirable if you have it all worked out! The truth is most people are unable to manage their time in a way that actually allows them to get everything done. I can understand that if you haven’t done a time management course or training, it isn’t always obvious you are managing your time ineffectively. However, there is one common time management challenge that doesn’t require training or skills, and that is kicking yourself into action when you procrastinate. We all know about procrastination!
The biggest reason people don’t achieve the results they desire and actually have the life they want, whether that is more monthly income, a better body or even a better relationship, is lack of action, or action in the wrong places. What I find is that although one might have a lot of intention, it is the lack of commitment in the moment to carry out the intention. What you might not know, is that if you work on the commitment, action becomes effortless.
Most people think they are committed, because they want something, but commitment is different!
Commitment is doing the things you need to when you don’t feel like it! Procrastination is not doing the thing you need to because you don’t feel like it!
If you are committed to results, you will be committed to tackling your procrastination.
To illustrate the cycle you might find yourself in when procrastinating, look at the below…it kind of looks like this….
Do you resonate with this? What does your procrastination cost you?
What the consequences of procrastination in your life? How does it affect your career and performance? What about relationships?
Unfortunately there is another less obvious cost of procrastination, it is not only the cost of inaction, but the cost to your psychology. I am sure, if you are like most people, you beat yourself when you don’t follow through with your own word. If you do this a few times, it is enough to start creating an identity of yourself that isn’t true, and a belief, so the cycle continues.
Do you want to break the cycle? Here is how you can start to overcome procrastination and how you can use the moment of procrastination, to support you instead of hindering you.
It is worth highlighting the obvious, you must plan, and plan strategically to set yourself up to win. I’m sure you know that even though you have a plan, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to follow through with it either. Resistance comes up and suddenly you find it difficult to take action.
When this happens, I invite you to ask yourself the following questions to identify what is holding you back…..
What am I lacking that If I had, would make it easier to take action now?
Identify the gap – the resistance – give it a name!
If you are lacking motivation, ask yourself
Why is it more painful to not take action than taking action?
What are the costs of my inaction?
What would make this more motivating?
Why am I motivated to take action?
If you are lacking clarity, ask yourself
What am I not clear on that is preventing me from taking action?
If you are lacking confidence, ask yourself
Where am I not feeling confident specifically?
What can I do to feel more confident….
Here are a few examples of ways you can use questions to identify what is really holding you back.
If procrastination if holding you back from taking your life to the next level, or even maintaining what you have now – reach out for support, contact me for a complimentary session to see how I can support you here.
Get a copy of my latest book – Tapping into Neuro-Productivity – where you will learn all the secrets to master productivity, not only strategy, but psychology as well!
Every company could do with saving time and improving productivity, and one of the easiest ways to do this is to upgrade some of the software programs your company uses. Technological developments have meant that business software solutions can vary with various functions, but through the combination of a few of these programs, they can significantly save time for you and your colleagues and improve your overall company productivity. Here are a few software programs you should consider using to improve the day to day efficiency and running of your company.
PDFelement for Business
If your company deals with a lot of PDF files, then this program can help you save time when editing or managing a lot of documents at once. It is a very quick and easy program to use and is ideal if you need to add signatures to your file, as it can make PDF document development a much easier task. You can make considerable edits to your PDF while still having beneficial features such as word spell check.
As a company, it is essential that you back up your work so you can protect and save data. Mozy is a business software backup program that automatically uses the internet to archive all your information. It is an easy feature to use and will make looking for an old file much easier. The software’s features allow you to back up data in bulk, which will help save you a lot of time.
The software program Threads saves time and increases productivity as it brings together all your business’ communications into one accessible and interactive dashboard. Using one username and one password, company-wide access and understanding of all communications can be established. Threads can import emails from other email systems for increased ease of use.
Threads also provide shared inbox software for your employees which enables the sharing of information between colleagues while still following all data protection procedures. This shared inbox feature can help make colleagues feel more collaborative and improve productivity by providing a platform for them to work more effectively as a team.
This software program is an online business calendar, which is simple to use but can save the company time and increase productivity through organizing and scheduling business tasks. This software is free to use and has a feature that allows you to publish your calendar online. Research has found that using calendars and scheduling can increase productivity in both your professional and personal life.
This business software program makes for a great task manager of all your notes and reminders. If you are a fan of to-do lists and find they can increase your productivity, then this is the software for you. Additionally, if you are in a creative profession, this software can make the brainstorming process even easier, as it organizes all your ideas in one place that is easy to access.
This list of helpful software programs that can contribute to saving company time while boosting productivity is not exhaustive but is a great place to start when trying to utilize technology in your company.
Ever heard of neuroplasticity? The idea that our brains are hardwired from birth and are therefore unchangeable is now known to be false, at last!!
Think of your brain as malleable plastic – it is constantly being changed by your day to day experiences. In scientific terms, neuroplasticity refers to the “rewiring” of the neurons that process and transmit information in the brain, and the alterations that occur at synapses (the gaps between neurons that allow for information to be transmitted between them). Basically, it about changing how you habitually think to a new way of thinking, habitually.
When it comes to neuroplasticity, one of the key things to keep in mind is that neural pathways (paths that connect different areas of the brain and nervous system) can not only be created at will, but can also be eliminated! This is great news because everyone of us has the ability to change! Every time we learn something new or have a novel idea, a new pathway is created. The more we use this pathway (through practice and repetition), the firmer and more engrained it becomes; likewise, the less we use it, the weaker it becomes, until it is eventually forgotten.
Neuroplasticity is important because it shows:
It’s hard to change a mindset and its accompanying habits, but it’s possible: Think of your brain as host to countless nerve battles. Studies have shown that it is actually more difficult to unlearn a bad habit than it is to learn a new one – this is called competitive plasticity. The more we repeat a bad habit, the more control it has over a brain map; so naturally, old bad habits have a competitive edge over our new ones; the important thing is to keep going, your new habits will eventually win the battles!
You always have the power to change yourself: In his book, The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science (2007), psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Norman Doidge states that no matter how old we are, deliberate practice, as well as rest and maintenance, can result in successful neuroplasticity.
An ambidextrous mind: An ambidextrous mind is one that is able to strategically go back and forth between two problem solving strategies: 1) exploration (this is a creative approach in which your mind explores innovative new solutions/alternatives to problems) and 2) exploitation (this is a more logical approach in which your mind uses existing information in the most efficient way possible). Research conducted by a team of MIT researchers suggests that being a successful entrepreneur doesn’t simply mean having the ability to switch between strategies, but also knowing the most optimal time to do so – it’s all in the timing!
The ability to embrace change and challenges: In a study conducted by Peter T. Bryant and Elena Ortiz Teran (at the IE Business School in Madrid Spain, the brain scans of 30 entrepreneurs were compared to those of 30 non-entrepreneurs while they carried out various activities. It was evident in the study that when it came to rapid problem solving, timely risk assessment, embracing challenges and seizing opportunities, successful entrepreneurs could be counted on to come first in a series of tasks.
In order to build up our physical muscles, we train them through a variety of physical exercises – we shouldn’t treat the brain any differently! Training the brain with mental exercises will help your neurons to develop stronger connections, and will prepare your brain to accept new connections a lot easier. Below are three ways that you can get started on training your brain for success:
Brain training games – There are hundreds of different games available that allow you to work on important brain functions such as memory, intelligence while actually having fun! Lumosity is one such tool that encompasses a variety of games and activities for different aims and objectives.
Mindset reinforcing tools – Consistently reinforcing your desired behaviour and beliefs is crucial if they’re ever to become second nature to you. Making use of positive affirmations, incantations and tools that allow for subliminal messages of your choice to appear on your computer screen will allow you to work on making the necessary changes to your subconscious mind (the power of which should not be underestimated).
Rest and sleep – In his studies of neuroplasticity, Norman Doidge observed the “Monday effect”. He noticed that the plasticity mechanisms being used by the participants on Mondays versus Fridays were markedly different. While the changes on Friday had more to do with strengthening neuron pathways, the changes on Monday had more do with the formation of new ones that took longer to form, but were more permanent. Put simply, having a well rested brain won’t necessarily help you learn things quicker, but it will help you make more permanent changes! Getting enough sleep, meditating and not being too hard on yourself can make a huge difference.
Confucius once said, “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” When it comes to neuroplasticity, learning how to keep going is key!! Find the right techniques for you, keep at them and you’re eventually going to see results – science is on your side!
In today’s dog-eat-dog world, it can be tough to justify taking breaks from work. After all, building a career often involves a series of sacrifices – and the first thing to go is invariably your leisure time. We’re here to tell you that you don’t need to give into the culture of overwork.
As it turns out, reclaiming your time and striking the proper balance between work and play can actually improve your performance in both professional and personal arenas. If you need to get your equilibrium back, give the following strategies a go.
Would you stand up a super important client or customer because another task is threatening to run overtime? Of course, you wouldn’t – so don’t bail on yourself, either!
The trick to attaining a solid work-life balance is changing the way you perceive the time that you reserve for “play”. That means valuing yourself as a VIP, and viewing your “me-time” outside of work as vital to your success, rather than optional. Start setting a regular, ‘official’ schedule for how late you plan on working each day, and rehearsing – first in front of the mirror, then in practice – how to say “no” to that colleague who never fails to harangue you just as you’re walking out of the office door.
2. Spend your play-time wisely
For many people, time off work means time spent in front of another screen for “recreational” purposes. But have you adopted this habit without actually pausing to question whether it brings you joy, or is instrumental for your personal growth? If not, maybe it’s time to review what you’re currently spending your play-time hours doing.
You don’t want to reach old age and conclude that you spent 80% of the time working, and 20% watching Netflix (or whatever its futuristic time-sucking successor turns out to be). So, put away your devices and do something spontaneous – move your body in a salsa class; go for a break to somewhere you’ve never been over the weekend; most importantly, spend time with the people you love.
Play exists in many forms. For full-time workers in particular, understanding play as an exercise-based activity is very important, since exercise will work to undo all those hours of sedentariness. Lure your colleagues into the fun by establishing a work squad for football, netball, or any other appropriate sport. Whether you break into teams at lunchtime or after work, play will be just the injection of endorphins your team needs.
4. Make your work feel like play
Ever notice how often we mark a distinction between work and play as if the two are mutually exclusive? Well, the good news is that they don’t have to be. You can make your work feel like play in all sorts of ways.
You might, for example, add some fun visual interest to your workspace by incorporating the colours you associate with happiness. You’d be surprised what a difference this little aesthetic change can make to your attitude to work.
Overworking is a cultural phenomenon, which means that it’s more endemic to some countries and regions than others. If you want the best chance of a good work-life balance without having to worry about exploitation or expectation, then, you’ll want to research your options to find a country which values the same things you do. Rather than being worked to the ground in a high-rise in America, then, opt for a position in chilled-out New Zealand; rather than working in the midst of a major city, consider a rurally-based role.
Freelance creative writer Johanna spends countless hours researching and typing away at her computer. To avoid feeling burnt out, she often retreats to her favourite nook in her home to meditate along with relaxing classical music. She spends much of her free time out at the beach or hiking. Get to know more about Jo through her writing on Musings of Johanna.
Entrepreneurs don’t have the luxury of having bosses or managers working to keep their teams motivated enough to stay productive and to produce quality work. Because of this, learning the skills required for self-motivation and willpower becomes solely your own responsibility – it’s all up to you!
In order to become a successful entrepreneur, you need to become self-reliant when it comes to building the motivation and willpower needed to create the habits that you need to succeed. Fortunately, every one of us holds the key to self-motivation within us, this article will show you how to use it to your advantage.
Overcoming Resistance And Getting Motivated
“The most important thing in life is to stop saying ‘I wish’ and start saying ‘I will.’” – Charles Dickens, David Copperfield (1850)
To go from saying “I wish” to “I will”, you need the right amounts of dopamine in the right places in your brain. A study conducted at the Vanderbilt University differentiated between demotivated “slackers” who didn’t achieve much (who had higher levels of dopamine in the anterior insula, the area of the brain associated with emotion and risk perception) and highly motivated achievers or “go-getters” (who had higher level of dopamine in the prefrontal cortex and striatum, the areas of the brain associated with motivation and reward).
The results of the study mean that we can train our brains to feed off of the different bursts of dopamine that we get from rewarding experiences, and channel it in a way that works to our benefit.
Autonomy: No one enjoys performing tasks that they feel obliged to do. When we think of ourselves as choosing to do tasks rather than being forced to do them, we are likely to feel more motivated.
Value: Doing things that we just don’t see the point of can be frustrating. Choosing your activities wisely and understanding their importance to your main goals can actually motivate you to perform them with more enthusiasm and effort.
Competence: Have you ever looked forward to doing something you felt you weren’t good at? Chances are, you haven’t. Practice really does make perfect – the more adept you feel yourself to be at a task, the more likely you are to be motivated enough to do it.
Willpower – It’s All In Your Head!
“Willpower is essential to the accomplishment of anything worthwhile.” – Brian Tracey, Getting Rich Your Own Way (2004)
Getting motivated is one thing, but how do you get the willpower to actually carry your plans out? In her book The Willpower Instinct (2011), Kelly McGonigal, refers to willpower as a “reaction to an internal conflict”. For example, you want to go out for dinner with your friends, but you know you really should be doing something for work – how much willpower you have determines which of the two actions you’ll eventually decide to take. When you’re self-employed, you don’t have deadlines set by your manager and you need to be able to have enough self-control to make the right decisions for yourself.
Think of willpower as a muscle with finite amounts of energy. In order for your willpower to be accessible whenever you need it, you need to train it.
Learning To Flex Your Willpower Muscle – “People do not lack strength; they lack will.” – Victor Hugo
In order to use your “strength” efficiently, try some of the tips below to keep your willpower from depleting.
1. Identify your capacity for pressure
Pushing yourself too far will only result in you feeling too exhausted to practice any of your productive habits. When you’re too overwhelmed or stressed, your prefrontal cortex is more likely to lose the battle for energy; this will leave you at the mercy of your instincts which usually lead to decisions being based on short term outcomes. So as soon as you feel your willpower depleting, do something to build it back up!
2. Control your mindset
Self-affirmation can help you gain the control that you need to maintain good habits. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psycholog shows that the way you talk to yourself has a huge impact on what you’re able to achieve. Saying “I can’t sleep in today” for example, indicates that you’re forcing yourself to do something unpleasant. Saying “I won’t sleep in today” on the other hand, serves as a reminder of your own autonomy and your personal choice to engage in positive habits.
3. Take care of your body
Every time you resist the temptation to go back to your old habits, your body draws on your supply of glucose. The less glucose you have, the less energy you have to maintain your willpower. Making strategic dietary choices and getting the right amounts of the right nutrients into your system can do a lot for your energy reserves. Getting enough sleep is just as important. Renowned sleep researcher Daniel Kripke has found that people who get around 6.5 – 7.5 hours of sleep a night tend to have the highest level of productivity and willpower.
Neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt (author of Welcome To Your Child’s Brain: How The Mind Grows From Conception To College, 2011) claims that if you don’t have a Plan B ready, it’ll make it that much harder for you to regain your willpower after a setback. Being prepared for the challenges that you may face as an entrepreneur won’t make the obstacles any less difficult to deal with, but will definitely have an impact on how fast you recover from disappointments without derailing your good habits.
Motivation Is Your Secret Weapon – Learn How To Use It!
Successful entrepreneurs are able to beat the odds and to come out of seemingly impossible circumstances with creative, new ideas and innovative business plans – to do this, they continuously work on creating sustainable levels of willpower and motivation; it hardly ever comes naturally to anyone! The saying “where there’s a will, there’s a way” exists for a reason – harness your willpower and make it work for you!
If you’re running your own business, or making preparations to, then trying to change your bad habits can seem like something that isn’t urgent and that can always be dealt with later. This is one of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make! Leaving your bad habits on the back-burner has a huge impact on how successfully you get your work done and how effectively you manage your company. It’s because of this that getting a more in-depth understanding of your obstacles and how to deal with them is of the utmost importance. Your success in business is the extent of your good habits vs your bad habits,.
Why Are Habits So Hard To Break?
If you think you’re the only one having a hard time making the necessary changes in your life, think again! Don’t let the resistance you face get you down, it’s actually a completely natural and exceedingly common issue that can be explained by a process called homoeostasis.
Homoeostasis refers to the control of the conditions within your body. The function of this process is to maintain a consistent internal environment by controlling and limiting the impact of external influences on the desired “normal” conditions. For example, if your glucose levels are too high, your pancreas will secrete insulin to absorb the excess glucose in order for your body to return to its optimal condition. Physiologically, we need homoeostasis to survive; psychologically though, it can pose major limits on what we are able to achieve in life.
How Homoeostasis Can Affect The Success Of Your Business
As an entrepreneur, you’re bound to have many firsts – you’re highly unlikely to be fully prepared and ready for every single situation that may arise! Your new experiences will require that you adapt and change some of your negative habits in order to succeed in this new chapter of your life – you want to be able to change, and yet, homoeostasis will result in you staying stagnant and inflexible.
Any successful entrepreneur will tell you, the ability to change and adapt is a crucial element to achieving success. For example, if one of your daily habits is sleeping in and having a late breakfast, imagine the state you’ll be in at an early morning meeting with your employees! Fortunately, the many success stories available for us to see today, show that bad habits can indeed be changed and that the bonds of homoeostasis can in fact be broken!
The Five Phases Of Habit Change
No matter what habit you’re trying to change, research shows that in order to successfully do so, you’re likely to go through five main phases. The psychology behind the five phases dates back to the 1980s and is still being used today in a wide range of behavioural studies. The method was created when researchers at the University of Rhode Island, James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente, examined the way habits and addiction affected smokers. They created the Stages Of Change (SOC) model based on the idea that it does not take just one simple step to change habits, but rather that it requires the five phases below:
At this stage you may not even be aware that you have a self-sabotaging problem, and even if you are, you may be uninformed about how it truly affects your personal and professional life. You may even think that other people are simply over-exaggerating the problem. People in this stage usually experience the “Four R’s”, Reluctance, Rebellion, Resignation and Rationalisation.
People at this stage are aware of their bad habits but are still ambivalent about whether they really need to change or not – an honest self re-evaluation needs to take place. This phase usually lasts a relatively long time because this is where you may be considering the pros and cons of changing your habits, and what such a change could mean.
If you’re finally ready to make a change, then you’re in the preparation phase! By now you’ll probably have some sort of plan for action and will likely benefit from an action-oriented program, whether it’s joining a new health club or seeking professional productivity advice.
This is the phase in which you actually implement your plans. Here people usually work on reinforcement management (for example, discovering the rewards that encourage specific behavioural patterns) and stimulus control (this usually involves identifying habit cues and either changing or eliminating them).
At this stage your main focus is on maintaining your new habits and making sure that you do not relapse into your old ones. This can involve continuously working on your mindset and implementing various productivity techniques.
Placing yourself in the above stages is a great way to keep track of your progress and to get a better understanding of what exactly you’re experiencing and how best to cope with the challenges.
From Precontemplation To Transcendence – It Really Is Possible!
Do you identify with any of the above stages? What’s important to keep in mind is that these five phases do not always go so smoothly, expect that. The SOC model actually considers relapse to be normal and expected – you’re more likely to experience a habit relapse than not to. How you deal with the relapse however, is what matters – it is crucial that you do not feel too discouraged to make any further attempts at change!
Once you go through the above stages and manage to break down the barriers of homoeostasis and to loosen the control that it has over you, you’ll finally be able to achieve what the SOC model refers to as “Termination” or “Transcendence” – these are stages in which you’ll achieve self-efficacy and your newly learned habits will become second nature. The journey from Precontemplation to Transcendence won’t be easy, but it’ll definitely be worth it!
I’m excited to announce that my new book – Tapping into Neuro-Productivity is up for pre-order now! Don’t miss out on getting your limited edition copy with many perks and benefits included until the 14th December 2018!
Discover the secrets of the productivity masters – from psychology to strategies, what you don’t know that you need to if you want to succeed as an entrepreneur.
What sets successful entrepreneurs apart from the ones who can’t seem to succeed? This question has been a topic of debate among academics, economists and psychologists for centuries now. Do they possess some mystical, innate qualities and powers that normal people are unable to tap into, or is it possible for any one of us to create just as much success?
One of the best (and often overlooked) ways of understanding entrepreneurs’ ability to achieve success is by examining (and emulating) their daily habits and routines!
5 Negotiable Habits Of Successful Entrepreneurs
So what sort of habits does the quintessential successful entrepreneur have? Don’t underestimate the habits listed below – they’re only deceptively simple but are those habits that actually make the biggest impact on your everyday life!
1. You snooze you lose!
According to Fast Company business magazine, nine of the world’s top business business leaders choose to get an early start to the day, with most of them waking up no later than 6 a.m! Snoozing or sleeping in often results in a lazy mood and a less productive day. Wake up a little earlier so you have time for you rituals and routines, before you start work! If you start your day, doing things for other people instead of yourself, you are sending yourself a very clear message, one that you contradicts a success-oriented mindset.
Scott Cullather, inVNT’s CEO, (along with many other successful people) starts his day with a 6 a.m. RUN. He claims that this not only supports his physical endurance throughout the day, but that it also stimulates his mental processes and creative thinking – both of these claims have recently been supported by numerous studies. Exercising should be like brushing your teeth; something you do daily without negotiation. When you become stronger, your mind becomes stronger too. Exercise not only improves your body but your mentality too! Starting your day with exercise is top of the list of best habits to adopt for success.
Asking yourself every morning “What do I want to achieve today? instead of ‘What do I need to do today?’, will bring you very different results in your business.
4. Be strategic with your time
In order to make sure they have enough energy for high-impact decisions, many entrepreneurs carefully prioritise their time and eliminate or delegate minor decisions from their schedule. They don’t try to do everything and they always plan ahead! This can be as simple as taking 30 minutes a week to create a weekly plan in order to save yourself 30 minutes every single morning thinking about what you want to do; it will allow you to focus your most productive morning hours on more mentally demanding tasks. Drive productivity with powerful decisions!
5. Managing your mindset
Not everyone wakes up every morning feeling super motivated and ready for any challenges that the day may bring. How well you cope with challenges, changes and uncertainty depends on your mindset and eventually determines how successful your business ventures will be. Payal Kadakia, founder of the successful startup “ClassPass”, has stated that her past entrepreneurial failures taught her that being flexible and enthusiastically taking on changes and challenges was the key to her success.
The Significance Of A Morning Routine
Do you notice a recurring trend in some of the above habits? Many of them have to do with setting up a morning routine. According to Drew Canole, founder of FitLife.Tv, “How you start your day is how you start your life.” Have you ever noticed how some mornings lead to stressful days in which you don’t get much done, and others make for productive days that leave you feeling motivated and accomplished? Science says there’s actually nothing coincidental about that!
Studies have shown that the right morning routine will help you in two ways:
In his book, Willpower: Rediscovering The Greatest Human Strength (2011), psychologist Roy F. Baumeister discusses research that suggests that our willpower is at its highest in the morning hours. This not only means that we can get more done in the mornings, but also that tasks that we struggle to commit to and find particularly challenging can be done both easier and more efficiently in the early hours, before our finite levels of energy are depleted on other things.
Numerous studies have shown that we experience a natural cortisol surge every morning – this means we have the most energy to use during the hours that this surge is in effect. Taking advantage of this natural energy boost is a great way to get things done in the morning and to avoid forcing yourself to do tasks half-heartedly and not to the best of your ability throughout the rest of the day. Research also shows that getting off to a healthy start in the morning motivates people to continue with healthy life choices throughout the rest of the day, so that’s always a plus!
Do You Have What It Takes?
While entrepreneurship is certainly not for the faint of heart, there’s something incredibly inspiring in the many entrepreneurial success stories out there. Many entrepreneurs start out from scratch, with limited financial resources, obscure networks and little business experience; those who manage to make the best use of the resources available to them and to reinforce productive habits can take the little they have and turn it into something they could have previously only dreamt about.
Entrepreneurs are people like just like everyone else who have succeeded in consistently following the habits that they know to be useful to them – if they could do it, so can you! Try out some of the habits above and make them work for you – you may be surprised at how much of a difference they can make!
Have you got what it takes to start up your own business and become your own boss? One way of assessing your readiness for such a massive life change is by looking at your daily habits. We’ve all got hundreds of different habits that we may not even be consciously aware of – the problem is that they shape every aspect of our lives whether we’re aware of them or not!
In order to assess the extent to which your habits shape your life, it’s important to understand how they are formed in the first place!
What Do Habits Have To Do With Entrepreneurship?!
It isn’t too difficult to see how some of our habits affect our personal lives, but the fact that they actually play a huge role in your professional success isn’t initially as obvious. With entrepreneurship comes independence, and with that, comes a lot of responsibility – without a boss to set the rules, deadlines and consequences, you’re left more vulnerable than ever to letting your bad habits take over!
As an entrepreneur you have the power to succeed in your own hands and your habits can either make or break your business. Think of it this way, if you can’t even control your own habits, what makes you think you can run your own business?! The bad news is, your self-sabotaging habits could cost you your success; the good news is that this doesn’t have to be the case!
How Are Habits Formed?
Numerous studies have shown that habits can account for roughly 40% of our daily behaviour! They usually constitute automatic actions that we often don’t think of doing. In his book, The Power Of Habit, New York Times business writer Charles Duhigg discusses the three step “habit loop” that explains how our habits are formed:
Cue – this is the trigger that tells your mind to go into auto-pilot mode Routine – this what the trigger encourages you to do Reward – this is what you get from fulfilling the routine
The above three steps are directly connected to the way habits move around in the brain. When we’re just learning them, habits start off in the basil ganglia (in the prefrontal cortex where decisions are made and the cue is associated with the reward) and once a routine has been established, they move on to the sensory motor loop (this part of the brain is responsible for cue-response associations without consideration of rewards, goals or outcomes). This is why we continue to perform habits even when we no longer benefit from them.
The Intentional Mind Versus The Habitual Mind
Distinguishing between goal-directed responses and context-cue responses is crucial to your achievements as an entrepreneur. In order to have a successful business, you need to be able to instantly identify not only what habits are having a good impact on your company, but also at exactly which point they stop doing so.
In a study published in the Personality And Social Psychology Bulletin (2011) Neal, Wood, Wu and Kurlander examined the battle between the intentional and habitual minds that exists in every one of us. At the beginning of the study, the participants were able to clearly distinguish between stale and fresh popcorn, and yet when they were presented with popcorn in a movie theatre, those who habitually ate popcorn at the movies, ate the popcorn whether it was fresh or not. In other words, the urge to comply with habit was stronger than the adverse reaction that the participants might have had from the stale popcorn.
What’s the “stale popcorn” in your life? Can you think of any situations in which your habitual mind won over your intentional mind? If you’ve ever opted to browse through Facebook instead of getting all your work-related calls done, or chosen to stay up late watching a movie instead of getting some sleep for an important meeting the next day, then you must be aware of the negative impact that your habits can have on your time, work and ultimately your success.
How Quickly Can You Form A New Habit?
Wouldn’t it be just great if we could form new habits at the drop of a hat? Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. In the 1960’s Maxwell Maltz, in his book Psycho-Cybernetics, claimed that based on his experiences with his patients, it takes 21 days to form a habit. While many influential life/productivity coaches such as Zig Ziglar and Tony Robbins still stand firm with that idea, others argue that it actually takes a lot longer.
Phillipa Lally’s study that was published in the European Journal of Social Psychology (2009) suggests that on average, 66 days is probably a more realistic estimate – it took her participants anywhere from 18 – 245 days to form a habit!
This is important to understand because many people give up trying to form a habit after a certain point, since they don’t feel like they’re getting results. It can be helpful if you think of habits as processes rather than events – some can take longer to form than others. Putting pressure on yourself to have instant results will only be detrimental to the process.
What Are You Waiting For?
A flexible habit may seem like an oxymoron because of how rigid habits tend to be, but the truth is that time and time again research has shown that habits can in fact be broken and that new ones can be formed throughout our lives. Successful entrepreneurs are able to make habits work in their favour – creating habits that have a positive effect on your business will be demanding, but is guaranteed to save you a lot of time and effort in the long run.
A team of researchers at MIT conducted a study in which they confirmed that parts of the brain favour our new habits over our old ones – so once you’ve started up the new habits, they shouldn’t be too difficult to maintain!
Warren Buffett has been quoted to say “Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken” – the earlier you get ahead of the potential problems that your habits can have for your business, the easier it will be for you to create a sustainable, and much more effective, road to success!
When living a busy lifestyle, the desire to get most out of the day becomes the driving principle. “Carpe diem” may turn into your day seizing you. In some businesses, sleep deprivation can be seen as a badge of honor as to who got to accomplish more. And while sprinting through the day seems like a great way to get things done fast, the wear and tear on the mind, body, and soul accumulates. The anxiety creeps up and one can still feel the looming sense that “time famine,” the feeling of not enough hours in the day, is snapping at your heels.
In the piece, “The Truth on Sleep and Productivity” Kirstin recommends shifting your routine to include a nighttime ritual, meditation and better sleep, in order to curb anxiety and a busy mind. In other words, you have to redefine time. You have to reset your body clock.
What is a body clock?
Body clock is another way of referring to “circadian rhythm”. Think of it as the next big hashtag for mindfulness. It refers to the body’s natural 24-hour internal clock that your brain, and all the cells in your body, use to function. It controls the peaks and valleys of alertness and sleepiness, times when digestion is more or less efficient, and even when your muscles are primed for exercise versus getting ready for rest.
How do I start?
A great place to start is to be proactive and mindful about what your main goals are for the day. Plan your days ahead of time. I say this as a former, “I’ll just wing it” advocate, but intentionality is the key. If you know that you need to focus on a task from 1pm- 4pm, carve that into your schedule in order to get that task done. If you know you need to start sleeping 7 hours instead of 5 hours, plan out how to get to sleep on time. If you have an hour or even 20 minutes between tasks, figure out how to best use that time.
We are not saying you can’t aimlessly scroll through social media, just limit it and move on to the next planned task instead of having it seize you for the next two hours (try airplane mode!). Center critical tasks in the morning when you are generally most alert as creativity peaks in the afternoons. And keep in mind that digestion slows in the evenings, so late night snacks pack on the pounds.
Need a tool??
If the normal paper and pen calendar won’t do, or you need something specially designed to optimize your body clock, try the Owaves — My Body Clock app. Its novel, 24 hour sunrise clock interface lets you plan healthy activities like exercise, sleep and meals alongside the daily grind of building and growing your business. Set an alert for your sleep time, for example, with a motivational quote, and Owaves will send you a timed notification to prime you for your new nighttime ritual. Techradar recently described Owaves as an app for “Getting Things Done for the mindfulness generation.”
Carpe Diem with Rhythm! ?
Be mindful of how you are spending your time. The key is living in synchrony with your body’s rhythms, instead of trying to fight against them. For example, exercising outdoors in the morning before breakfast synchronizes your clock with sunrise and boosts your energy and alertness levels. It’s why so many athletes and entrepreneurs plan exercise as the first part of their day. Schedule your most difficult work tasks around 10:00am, to coincide with your peak productivity window. Allow for breaks, as this will make you feel less stressed throughout the day — the Spanish have it right with an afternoon siesta.
When it comes to creativity, wait until the evening before dinner, as you are most creative when you are tired. Wind down one to two hours after sunset by shutting off all your devices, because the blue light from our screens directly blocks melatonin, our sleeping hormone, from being released. As O’Donovan recommends in her article, consider your mattress, sleepwear, as well as the darkness and temperature of your room for optimal conditions. The optimal temperature for sleep is approximately 65-68℉ or 18.3-18.5℃, because your core body temperature needs to drop a little bit to initiate good sleep.
Sync with the Pros:
Check out the Owaves blog and get inspired by how elite athletes, entrepreneurs, business executives and celebrities seize the day with their body clock.