Habits, routine, consistency they’re all fascinating concepts to me.
A prime example – this blog has been a little off routine lately, I haven’t been consistent with posting and my good habit of weekly publishing (enabled by the consistent routine of getting up on a Friday , writing the post, publishing the post etc.) has been turning into a very bad habit of…oh I’ll just do it next week. Why would anyone care?
And quite frankly you may not care. You’re a busy person. You may not have even realised there’s an inconsistency to the posting schedule at the moment.
And that’s okay.
Writing Confessions of a Small Business Owner is actually as much for me as it is for you. I find it cathartic. I find it really helpful to put thought to paper and sometimes I hope that you find my musing helpful too!
So why has the routine faltered?
Well, there’s a number of reasons why I haven’t been posting consistently lately – I’ve been travelling a lot, I’ve been working hard on getting the final drafts complete of the planner/journal that will be released in the new year from my other business The Momentum Architects and I seem to have had a lot of meetings first thing on Friday mornings which is traditionally my blog writing time.
Oh course there’s an easy fix to this last one.
Write it at another time.
Or, batch the writing of them, which regular readers will know I’m a huge fan of batching tasks to aid efficiency, but when it comes to the blog, I’ve always preferred to write more organically based on what it happening at the time.
It was a really great habit, how has it dropped off?
Have you ever stopped and looked at your habits or your routine – whether good or bad? Those things that you do without thinking. Those things that you’ve trained yourself to do repeatedly.
How easy or hard was it to break that cycle?
Going to the gym for example – how easy is it to break that habit? For me, I was never a ‘gym person’. In the past exercise always came after the work had been completed. I viewed it as a ‘treat’ (in a very sadistic treat kind of way because lets’ be honest, a block of chocolate after all of the work has been done is a far more enticing reward than sweating it out on the cross trainer).
I found the way to trick myself into exercising was booking classes and pre-paying – making myself not only accountable to others but angry with myself for wasting money if I didn’t go and get the benefits from it.
Building this into a routine was therefore pretty easy. It’s an appointment in the diary just like any other that needs to be kept.
BUT. It’s when the appointment is not put in the diary. When something happens to the routine of the week and instead of the gym classes being added in first, they’re added back in later and then there’s a clash over one of the classes with another meeting that week – so I go one less, and then it happens again, now we’re down 2 classes and so on and so forth.
So how about focusing on getting a good start rather than the finish?
As James Clear writes about in his new book Atomic Habits (by the way, I’ve been following James Clear for a number of years now and when it comes to habits, he’s the man!) the key when you’ve fallen off the wagon with routine or with habits is not focusing on the ultimate goal again but focusing on a good start.
Let me explain.
When it comes to the gym. If I haven’t been going the key is not to tell myself that I’m now going to the gym and I’m going to do this 4 times this week. The key is to start by sending the message to the gym owner to ask if I can book into a class.
Sending a text message isn’t hard right?
Or by getting up and putting gym clothes on – you’re getting dressed anyway right so now the only choice is whether you put gym clothes on or regular clothes. Once the gym clothes are on you’re already on the way to going.
This works with all aspects of life – I’m extremely bad at consistently tracking my business expenses. I let them pile up and then have to sort them out once my accountant has sent me a series of increasingly agitated emails to submit. Again, I could be tricking myself into thinking that I’m actually ‘batching’ and therefore being efficient.
I’m not. It’s simply not a task I enjoy doing and therefore don’t prioritise.
Instead of focusing on ‘must complete my expenses’ – based on James’ suggestion, I now focus on opening the spreadsheet – that’s not too hard right? Once the spreadsheet is open, it’s often the only momentum I need to keep going and complete the task.
So my challenge to you…
What habit would you like to form in your business?
- Is it consistent posting on social media?
- Is it completing those expenses every week?
- Is it carving out time to think and strategise which always seems to get eaten away by the daily hustle?
- Is it returning emails quicker?
Whatever it is – what’s the first step that you need to take that you can concentrate on repeatedly doing which will enable the rest of the task to flow?
Love your work!
PS – I do have my gym clothes on whilst writing this 🙂
"Confessions of a Small Business Owner"
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Kerry Dover (Kerry Chick) is a stressed out business owner who, in her head runs a super streamlined, beautifully efficient, well-oiled machine of a business. The reality is a little different….here are her confessions!