You have big, audacious goals, and you know what you *could* and *should* be doing to reach them.
Despite having both the motivation and the know-how to get things done, you’re confused as to why you can’t seem to accomplish your goals.
At the end of each week, each month, or each year you look back and feel guilty about all that you didn’t check off your to-do list, and you wonder if it’s because something is wrong with you, or that maybe you don’t have enough willpower to reach the huge goals you set for yourself.
I’m here to tell you that nothing is wrong with you, and that willpower is overrated.
Why You Can’t Rely on Willpower
I’m not saying that willpower is obsolete, but like Kelly McGonigal, author of The Willpower Instinct says, “You will have to choose your willpower battles wisely.”
Studies have shown that we do have a type of reserve for willpower, a fuel tank, if you will, that can run low and cause us to avoid accomplishing tasks, going to the gym, or even yelling at someone in traffic on the freeway.
Since you run your business 24/7/365, you have to know which tasks are worthy of using your willpower and which can be made automatic so you can save that precious resource.
The truth is that you have more control over the situation than you think.
Concentrate on What You CAN Change
Instead of feeling bad about how much willpower you don’t have, concentrate on what you can change.
While you don’t always have control over your mood or your son getting the flu during a launch, you do have control over how you organize your environment, the habits you build, and the routines you create for yourself to get work done.
Three Integral Pieces to Being Productive Without Relying on Willpower
While this can certainly mean your physical space, like your office, it pertains more to your digital environment.
- Where are you storing your notes for each client?
- Do you have templates for the tasks that you or your assistant do over and over again?
- Have you made use of technology to help you do mundane, repetitive tasks?
You can shave minutes off your day and hours off of your week by organizing your environment in a way that supports the work you do on a daily basis.
You essentially create shortcuts for yourself and save energy by minimizing the number of decisions you need to make.
Here are some ideas:
- Use IFTTT
- Use Evernote as a business management hub
- Find an accountability partner
- Join a supportive community
By creating a supportive environment, you create a structure around your business that drives you toward your goals even when you’re running low on willpower.
There are things that you do on a daily basis, like brushing your teeth, taking the dog for a walk, or catching up with your significant other over breakfast.
These are practices that you do on a regular basis that you don’t have to actively think about.
In fact, they’re so ingrained that you exert little, if any, mental energy to do them, and that’s a benefit you can take advantage of as an entrepreneur.
You can create small business habits that support your short and long-term visions.
Here are some business habits you can consider starting:
- Properly naming and saving a document in a place you use to keep your digital documents instead of saving it to your Desktop
- Properly naming and saving an email attachment you want to keep instead of leaving it in your Inbox or Downloads Folder
- Taking action on an email before closing it
- Starting your day with reviewing your priorities for the day
- Ending your week with a weekly review
By relying on habits instead of willpower, you “automate decisions” about mundane tasks which preserves your energy to make decisions and work on tasks that move your business forward.
A routine is a series of actions that you perform. You might not realize it, but you already have a morning, night-time, weekly and weekend routines. Most likely you also have a routine of navigating supermarkets or preparing for family gatherings.
As a business owner, you can majorly benefit from routines as well.
You can create a weekly routine to focus on different activities throughout the week:
- On Mondays, for example, you write your blog posts and do follow up,
- On Tuesdays, you work on your new e-course,
- On Wednesdays and Thursdays you meet with your clients, and
- On Fridays, you concentrate on admin tasks.
You can turn individual activities into routines as well. Here is, for example, how you can create a blogging routine. And here is an example of a social media routine.
When you create routines, it becomes easier to estimate what you can accomplish each day, which allows you to be more productive today and in the long-term.
Build Systems that Uniquely Reflect You
Each system, habit, and routine you initially start using won’t always work out. This process requires a steady flow of observation and experimentation until you find ones that fit not only your personality but the demands of your business.
However, it’s worth the time and effort as systems that reflect your needs and values help you design a business that not only saves you energy and makes you less reliant on willpower, but also emphasizes your strengths and helps your business stand out from the crowd.
Yes, having systems that works as a routine is so key. I need to implement more of this.