Attitude counts for much more than ideas and knowledge when you’re in business – you might have the finest mind in your field – but if you can’t be bothered getting out of bed it’s worth very little to anyone.
Habits are the manifestation of established attitudes – for good and for bad. Your ability to spring out of bed in the morning might be driven by positive thoughts about work or life in general, just as your habit of reading every YouTube video comment might be driven by your dislike for the task at hand and a desire to avoid it.
What follows are some habits that will make you a better and more successful entrepreneur, have a look at what might be beneficial – and we’ll explain how to create your desired habits toward the end…
- Get good at getting out of bed
Your morning routine paves the way for a good or bad day. Instead of thinking about minimum amount of time needed to get you from bed to desk at the IT Support company in Glasgow you run, start thinking about ideal amount of time and plan around that.
Here’s some reality; if you’re not good with mornings you’re likely to feel tired whether you wake up at 5:30 or 7:30, so why not make it the earlier of the two options but have a good breakfast, stretch, watch the news, walk the dog, go to the gym – or all those other things that will get your brain and body working?
- Set goals and keep your eye on them
Your goals are like ideas; they’re worth very little unless you’re doing something with them. If you don’t have a path that will take you toward your perfect scenario then you’re leaving a lot to chance.
A good way to think about goals is to imagine what the end of the day/week/month or year will look like. What would you like to have achieved? How will you get there? Write it down and revisit it at the end of your allotted timescale.
This habit is as much about rewiring your way of thinking as it is about having a long-term to-do list. If you’ve got something to work toward you’re far more likely to be the type of person who gets the job done as your goals are there, even subconsciously, as you choose between a long lazy lunch and grabbing a sandwich and getting back to your desk.
- Learn to say no
There are lots of people whose style of social interactions makes them lean toward being amiable even when it’s to their own detriment. If you’re one of these people, sometimes considered “too nice for their own good” – then learning to say no can free up masses of time and energy.
It might sound somewhat brutal, but ask yourself what you, your company or your business gets out of any business interaction. If the answer is little or nothing, then say no. You don’t have to be rude, just explaining that something isn’t going to work for you at the moment leaves the door open to revisit the opportunity or conversation further down the line.
- Think of life as a series of time exchanges
If you can get into the habit of assessing the productivity and impact of time spent doing any one thing you’ll start to appreciate time as the limited resource it truly is. This applies to both work and home tasks.
Let’s say you pay yourself £25,000 – meaning your time is worth roughly £100 each day. You need to write the copy for your company website, a task that’s going to give you a headache and take you two days – thus costing the business £200 for your time, plus any missed work or opportunities that wait in your inbox thereafter.
You might feel like it’s the smart move to just get on with it and get it done – when actually, you could outsource the work for £75 while you do £200 worth of work (that only you can do) elsewhere.
Be careful though! This only works if you’re actually doing your own work while paying someone else to perform a task – the second you start a 5-episode run of House of Cards is the moment your time becomes worthless and would have been better spent struggling with that dreaded task!
- Look after yourself
There is a scientifically undeniable link between our bodies and our brains. The proof is there for anyone who’s had a hangover then tried to perform a good solid days-worth of work. A good diet and exercise means your brain is functioning as efficiently as is possible, meaning you do more, you’re sharper, mornings are easier, you sleep better, your work and personal relationships are better… and so on.
You would not expect to do your best work if you drank a bottle of vodka at breakfast – yet so many people operate at the cutting edge of their own business having eaten food that makes them sluggish and tired. For most people, breaking the habit of eating unhealthy (but gloriously tasty) food is very difficult – but if you can, your brain and your productivity levels will be extremely thankful…
How to create a habit
Okay, so you know what the success stories of this world do to put them where they want to be, but how do you grab hold of your motivation and turn it into a positive habit? Experts say that the key is repetition.
At first that might be painful repetition you want to kick back against as hard as you can. Let’s take the morning routine example – there are few buttons as tempting as that snooze button, but, go through the barrier of getting up at 5.30am for 21 days and day 22 will be much easier.
Why 21 days?
Neuroscience says 21 days is the time needed for a behaviour to become habitual. Although we’re not going to do the brain science much justice here, essentially the electrical impulses in your brain tend to take known paths, so, previous behaviours create links between the synapses in your brain – and when that situation presents itself again, it’s easier to repeat your past behaviour than it is to try something new.
21 days is the amount of time needed to ‘retrain’ those links in your brain. So, 21 days of your desired habit will see your brain telling you that the alarm going off means get-up – and not ‘fumble around for the snooze’ button. You might well find that hard to believe now, but in three-weeks-time you’ll be a lot more convinced (and productive).