What big things do you want to accomplish this year? Are you going to start a new business? Double the revenue in your existing company? Write a best-selling book? Lose 50 pounds?
Goals are great, and you should definitely have them. But goals can easily be sidetracked when something bigger comes into the picture: habits.
Now, of course there are plenty of good habits that an entrepreneur should have . . . but what about the bad ones? We all know some habits are obviously bad, like smoking or excessive drinking. But for entrepreneurs, the distinction between “good” and “bad” habits is often blurry and situational.
Therefore, I want to lay out seven habits that, although seemingly innocent, can actually hurt your chances of achieving your goals this year.
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1. Checking email
How many times a day do you check your email? More than once? That’s probably too much.
Email tends to be the thing people do when they don’t want to do what they should be doing.
I know you think you need to be in your email throughout the day, but chances are, your addiction results in your putting off the one thing in your life you really should be focused on right now. So, make an effort to reduce the amount of times you check your email.
Set up smart “filtering” criteria, unsubscribe from email newsletters you no longer need to read (I just unsubscribed from over 1,000 newsletters, using Unroll.me), and get people used to your responding just once a day.
2. Logging onto Social media
Let’s be honest: We all spend way too much time on social media.
Whether your social media habit leads to your sitting “in the john” a bit too long, or to a quick status update that turns into 35 minutes of mindless scrolling through your newsfeed, this habit can quickly take over the limited time you have to be productive.
So, do yourself a favor and limit the time you spend on social media.
For me, Facebook is my “go-to time-waster.” That’s why I installed theFacebook Newsfeed Eradicator, which essentially shuts off the Facebook newsfeed on my laptop. This alone has saved me several hours per week.
Yes, procrastination is a habit. It’s often much easier to say “tomorrow” than “now.” But the things we procrastinate about are often the very things that most need to be done now.
So, instead, make it a habit to “time-block” your most important things to ensure they get done on schedule today, not tomorrow. For more on-time blocking ideas, don’t miss “This Productivity Hack Completely Changed My Life, and It Can Improve Yours.”
Yesterday I saw a CEO post an ad for an assistant, and “ability to multitask” was the number one quality he listed. What that CEO didn’t realize, though, was that he was looking for someone ineffective simply because multitasking simply doesn’t work!
Instead of accomplishing the most important thing right, a multitasker accomplishes dozens of things poorly. Sure, it feels good to check things off a list, but the quality suffers, the more things you add.
Unless you are talking about chewing gum while walking, stick to one thing at a time and forget the habit of multitasking.
5. Reading irrelevant blog posts
With an estimated 2 million blog posts being written every single day, it’s no wonder that people get sucked into the habit of reading blog posts that are completely irrelevant to the task at hand.
Just today, I started reading a post about becoming a real estate agent, and before I knew it, realized I was reading about traveling the world for under $1,000. Great content, but irrelevant to the topic I needed to learn more about at that moment!
Instead of reading posts because they are interesting, read posts because they are important for what you are trying to accomplish. Don’t get sucked in by a sneaky headline (i.e., “you’ll never believe #7!”). Instead, set aside time in your day for leisure reading.
Use the Pocket app to bookmark things you want to come back to at a later time, and focus on moving your business forward.
6. Netflix and other ‘screen time’
Ooooh . . . you knew I had to talk about this. Netflix, along with all other forms of movie and television consumption, consumes a huge part of our life.
And, understand that I’m not saying watching TV is bad. It’s great for relaxing, but it can easily become a habit that will kick your goal can down the road, perpetually.
So, set a limit on how much “screen time” you allow yourself each week, and stick to it. Get an accountability group or partner to help hold you to your goal. Then, use your extra time to work on your most important task.
If you rely on other people to help you grow your business, you’ve probably been guilty of micromanaging more than once.
But, here’s the truth: When you hire the right people, and trust them to get the task done, amazing things happen without your involvement.
True, they may not get the task done the exact same way you would have, but chances are, they will still get done! So, stop spending all your time micromanaging how other people do tasks. Instead, judge the task (and the employee) by the outcome.
This will free up hours of time in your day to grow your business.
Oh, ‘those’ habits
Our lives are almost completely made up of “habits” that control what we do, when we do it and how it’s done. Those habits can be used for good or used to derail your plans.
It’s up to you to decide which way you want to go.
So, make it your mission this week to kill some of your deadly habits and replace them with habits that will help you accomplish your biggest goals. Then, watch your life be transformed!
[This post originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com.]
What do YOU think — are any of these habits holding you back? Anything you’d add to this list?
Let’s talk in the comments section!