10 Simple Habits to Transform Your Business in 2016
One of my favorite books of all time is
We all know resolutions just don’t work. Instead, it’s time to tweak our business day and create lasting productive habits. Some may be more difficult to implement than others. But if your goal is to transform and grow your business this year, you need to do something different. You need to create new habits that will lead you to success, instead of a carbon copy of last year’s failures.
Here’s my 10 simple habits that will help take your business in a new and positive direction this year.
#1. Reduce distractions
This is the most obvious piece of advice on the list. Of course you need to reduce distractions! You know this. You would give me the same advice if I asked. But we don’t actually do anything about it.
We all get sucked into the next phone call, email, video, text or conversation. We have become a culture of instant communication. We jump from site to site, and try to get as much information as we can (on whatever insane subject is hot on the internet that minute). It seems to be the way the world works today.
Instead of trying to see and do everything at once, it’s time to reduce every distraction we can. When it’s time to work – it’s time to work!
Here’s a few tools that will help you eliminate unnecessary distractions:
- Self Control: A free Mac application to help you avoid distracting websites.
- Rescue Time: A personal analytics service that shows you how you spend your time and provides tools to help you be more productive.
#2. Start saying no
It’s so easy to say yes to everything. Yes, you want to help. Yes, you probably have the time (if you juggle some things around). And yes, you may enjoy it.
However, if you truly want to transform and grow your business this year, you have to say no to everything that doesn’t contribute directly or indirectly to that goal. It’s a simple habit, but one that will give you the time you need for your business – but you.
#3. Choose the easiest online tools
The internet is an amazing thing. It’s also challenging and overwhelming. Learning a new skill or trying something new can simply be a nightmare. But it doesn’t have to be.
Instead, choose tools that are easy to learn and utilize. Here’s a few that are stress-free and you don’t need to be a technical wizard to use:
- Selz: A simple, yet powerful, eCommerce system that is perfect for any online business. It’s incredibly easy to use and can be set up in under 10 minutes.
- Canva: A user-friendly graphics program that has a ton of customizable templates. And their premium graphics are only $1!
- Trello: Incredibly easy to use project management program. It keeps track of everything, from the big picture to the minute details. Great for collaborations.
#4. Put your phone away
According to Statistic Brain, 29% of mobile phone users say their phone is the first and last thing they look at each day (no wonder the divorce rate is to high!). And 37 % of users day they check their phones at least twice an hour.
However, nothing compares to the following story by Frank Silverman from the Martial Arts Industry Association. Frank was touring a supposedly successful karate school. He witnessed a “professional” instructor teaching a private lesson, and the instructor had a focus pad on one hand and his smartphone in his other. The instructor texted during the entire private lesson – something the student paid extra for!
Your business will never grow if your eyes are glued to your phone all day. It’s time to put the phones down and get to work.
#5. Write it down
Start putting everything on a list. If it’s not written down, it may not get done. Whether it’s on actual paper or using an app, start keeping track of what you need to do instead of keeping it all in your head.
- Evernote: Helps you remember and act upon ideas, projects and experiences across all the computers, phones and tablets you use.
- Remember the Milk: Popular to-do list that’s everywhere you are: from your phone, to the web, to your Google apps, and more.
- Bullet Journal: The incredibly popular journaling system, where all you need is paper and a pen. (this is my favorite!)
#6. Take breaks
This may seem counter intuitive, but it’s not. You have to be healthy to run your business. It’s essential to take breaks even in the middle of a deadline. And especially when you’re under pressure because your brain needs time to recharge and refresh.
If you don’t have the willpower to just walk away from your desk, use one of these tools to help:
- EyeLeo: Reminds you to take a break for your eyes.
- Workrave: Assists in the recovery and prevention of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). The program frequently alerts you to take micro-pauses, rest breaks and restricts you to your daily limit.
- Big Stretch Reminder: Simple reminder tool that prompts a user to take regular breaks and helps prevent the symptoms of RSI.
The average office worker checks emails 30 times per hour! And 80% of all emails sent are spam!
Email is both incredibly powerful and a huge time waster. It’s so easy to sign up for a newsletter for a “free” bonus, only to get bombarded with tons of emails. I was recently introduced to Unroll.me, a free app that scans your inbox and tells you how many subscriptions you have. Plus, they can unsubscribe you from any unwanted lists on one page. It’s simple to use and frees up your inbox for what’s really important to you.
I was astonished that I was subscribed to 196 lists until a friend shared that he was on 338! No wonder we never get anything done!
#8. Become a minimalist
I’m a huge fan of The Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. While they don’t really speak about creating business minimalism, many of the principles are the same. You don’t have to create a super-sized business to achieve success. Streamline, downsize and reduce as much as possible. It not only saves money, but creates more time to devote to your goals.
Here’s a few examples of how to achieve business minimalism:
- Go paperless
- Embrace technology that helps you integrate and organize (think iPad over PC’s)
- Create a leaner office space
- Choose dual purpose items
- Don’t purchase “stuff” – purchase only what you truly need
#9. Limit face to face meetings
How much time does a meeting really take?
Driving to the location, waiting for the other person, small talk, maybe ordering a meal, and then getting down to business…maybe 2 hours?
You don’t want to be a hermit, or become unsociable. Networking can be a huge asset for your business, but there’s a difference between networking for results and just chit-chatting with a business colleague.
Start limiting face to face meetings when it’s appropriate. If it can get done through a few minutes of email, decline meeting in person. It saves both parties time and money.
#10. Limit social media
Social media may be the biggest time waster in the history of the world.
Half of all Facebook’s billions of users spend at least 18 minutes every time they log onto the platform. There are 58 million Tweets every day. Not to mention all the pins and pics on Pinterest and Instagram.
It’s time to get a handle on our social media habits. Create a plan, like checking social media three times a day. Stick to the plan. Even if start your online business this year, it doesn’t mean you should spend all your time online.
If you don’t think you can possibly stay away from the latest gossip or cute cat video, use the following app:
StayFocusd: Increases your productivity by limiting the amount of time that you can spend on time-wasting websites.
Create New Habits, Transform Your Business
It’s incredibly easy to fall into non-productive habits. We all have schedules we’ve become accustomed to, and we just do what we’ve always done. And that’s why it’s so easy to become stuck.
Don’t let last year’s failures become this year’s outcomes. None of these habits are particularly hard to change. Take a look at your daily habits, what you could change and what you must change. Take an honest look at your habits and how they impact your business.
Because your success in 2016 depends on what you choose to do right now.
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Liesha's a freelancer by day and Kyokushin Black Belt by night. She's the author of Killing Rapunzel: Learning How to Save Yourself Through Determination, Grit, and Self-Employment (her mother hates the title - but it's a metaphor mom!). She talks freelancing adventures at Microbusiness Essentials and grassroots movements at Kat TalesRead Full Bio