Text: What will make this easier?

What will make this easier?

There’s a short question I like to ask myself about once a week: What will make this easier?

It’s such a simple question that it’s easy to overlook its usefulness.

This is an especially helpful question when it comes to habits you’re trying to develop.

Let’s say you’ve decided to create a habit of waking up at 6:30 am.

You might start by setting your alarm for 6:30 every morning to get up.

If you’re like most people, by day three you’re exhausted because you’re not getting enough sleep.

What will make getting up at 6:30 am easier?

The answer might be to go to bed earlier, so you’re getting more sleep. 

And what will make that easier? Getting ready for bed earlier.

And what will make that easier? Being specific about what “earlier” means, let’s say 9:30 pm.

And what will make that easier? Not stressing about falling asleep at a specific time.

You might use the technique of habit shaping (described in James Clear’s book Atomic Habits) to start getting ready for bed earlier and not set your alarm for 6:30 am yet. Instead, phase 1 of getting up earlier is regularly getting ready for bed at 9:30. Phase 2 might be laying down to go to sleep at 10 pm. Then you might add other phases before introducing the last phase of setting your alarm for 6:30 am.

It seems so simple to create a habit of getting up at 6:30 every morning, but if you don’t take a step back and ask, “what will make this easier?” you’ll miss necessary steps to create this habit successfully.

What habit are you trying to create? 

What would make that easier?

When was the last time…

When was the last time you told a friend they sucked and were a failure?

Never? Maybe only in jest?

When was the last time you said that to yourself?

I know I can be tough on myself for not reaching goals, getting sidetracked instead of getting something done, or any number of other reasons.

But I’d NEVER say those things to a friend.

I guess I’m not a friend of myself??

It certainly can feel like that.

It takes time to unlearn those habits.

It takes practice, but you can get better at noticing when this is happening. You can learn your patterns and make adjustments. Watch for your insights and write them down. Then to remind yourself, put them on sticky notes where you’ll see them (like on your monitor).

Next time you get sidetracked, don’t reach a goal, or any other reason you might be mean to yourself, take a step back and treat yourself the way you’d treat a good friend.

And take opportunities to celebrate your wins. That might be reaching a goal. It can also be celebrating that you did the work, showed up, and did the things, regardless of the result.

Productivity for Solopreneurs: Insights to getting things done #128 / Why you should create your new habit in phases

Why you should create your new habit in phases

One part of creating the productivity and results you want in your business (and life) is creating habits that support you.

When someone is creating a new habit I often see them jump right into it.

Then they get frustrated when it doesn’t get easier after a few days or it might even get harder.

Then the new habit is abandoned.

Think of it this way, if you wanted to start lifting weights and decided the place to start was curling a 50-pound weight, you’d probably fail.

You need to build your muscles to do that (and potentially talk with an expert to find out if that’s a reasonable goal for you).

The point is, you’re probably not going to be curling that 50-pound weight on the first day of you lift weights.

Yet, this is how most of us approach creating habits. 

We think the way to create a new habit is to start it immediately, and if we do keep doing it, the practice will stick.

Then we get frustrated because it’s hard to keep up.

Let’s look at the habit of waking up at 6 am every day.

To create it, you set the alarm for 6 am every day.

A couple of days in, and it feels like there’s not enough coffee in the world to keep you focused all day.

One of the rules for creating a new habit is to make it easy.

How might you make getting up at 6 am every day easier for you? By going to bed at 10 pm every night. This way, you get 8 hours of sleep, and it makes getting up at 6 am easier.

How do you make going to bed at 10 pm easier? By starting your bedtime routine at 9:30.

If you’re like me, you start creating this whole new routine that includes around getting ready for bed at 9:30, going to bed at 10 pm, and setting the alarm for 6 am.

And you still might be frustrated because at 10 pm you’re NOT tired and so you lay in bed tossing and turning for an hour or more before you fall asleep and when the alarm goes off you’re still exhausted.

In James Clear’s book Atomic Habits, he talks about habit shaping, part of it is creating a new habit in phases.

If the habit is getting up at 6 am, you could start with just getting ready for bed at 9:30. Once you’ve mastered that (which might take a week or a month), you move on to the next step.

Phase 1: Get ready for bed at 9:30
Phase 2: Get in bed at 10 pm and read, chat with your partner, or play on your phone.
Phase 3: Get in bed at 10 pm and put the phone away.
Phase 4: Go to bed at 10 pm.
Phase 5: Set your alarm for 6 am.

You’ll notice I added a couple of steps between getting ready for bed and going to bed. It goes back to asking yourself what will make the next step easier.

What habits have you tried to create in the past that are still on your mind?

How might you create that habit in phases?

Keep asking yourself what will make this step easier?

I’d love to know what the phases of your new habit are! Share in the comments below.

Productivity for Solopreneurs: Insights to Getting Things Done #128

Productivity for Solopreneurs: Insights to getting things done #122 / Two common to-do list mistakes and what to do about them

Two common to-do list mistakes and what to do about them

How effective is your to-do list?

I’ve found that most people have one in one form or another.

And sometimes we assume that everyone puts together a to-do list the way we do.

I’ve found that people are generally making one or two mistakes with their to-do lists and we’re going to talk about that today.

Mistake 1

Your to-do list is on whatever piece of paper or notebook that happened to be near you when you needed to write somethings down.

A side effect of this to-do list method is you keep thinking about all the things you have to do. Your mind is a constant stream of things to do.

This is because your brain is super smart (really it is) and it knows that you might not find that piece of paper or notebook when you’re at your desk ready to do that work.

What to do instead

Have ONE place you write your to-do lists.

You’re not creating your WHOLE planning and tracking system here, you’re starting with ONE small tweak that will help you develop a habit that supports your future planning/tracking system.

You might start with a smaller notebook that will easily fit in your purse or an app on your phone.

I’d suggest starting with a notebook and seeing how that goes for a bit.

Mistake 2

Your to-do list is in ONE place, but it’s a list of EVERYTHING that you need to do.

This is actually a good problem to have because it means that you’re writing things down (physically or digitally) and you know what needs to be done. 

What to do instead

Create a list of only what needs to be completed today or this week. The other things can be done in the coming weeks.

This allows you to set your priorities once a week and then you won’t have to decide on a daily or moment-to-moment basis what your priorities are.

Ideally, these things tie to your goals for the month, but again, it’s about doing one small tweak so that you start creating the habits that support your future habits and systems.

Now, you might be wondering why I’m not suggesting that you start with creating a planning/tracking system right off the bat.

My question for you is: have you tried jumping right into a planning system or goal tracking system before? Yes? How did that go?

What I find with my clients is they have a list of things they’ve tried (and planners in the closet with maybe a month filled out) and then something popped up, they got busy, or there was some other disruption.

The new system took a lot of time and effort to keep up with because the habits around it hadn’t developed yet. So, it all fell apart.

Instead, look at the small steps you can take or one habit you can develop that will make a difference. When that step is completed or that habit developed, then you can add something else.

If you want to know a couple of small tweaks that will make a big difference for you, reach out to schedule a complimentary session with me. You can do that by commenting or filling out the Contact Me form on my website here: http://www.oneinsightcloser.com/contact-me


Did the holidays change your morning routine?

The last couple weeks I think I’ve done a pretty good job of being kind to myself and honoring my desire to slow down.

If you’re not sure what I’m talking about you can read last week’s note by clicking here.

This week the tide is turning.

My inner voice is telling me it’s time to start moving out of my cozy cocoon a bit and move closer to the groove that I had in early December.

Now, this doesn’t mean that I’m not taking care of my self or jumping into DO-ALL-THE-THINGS mode. I know myself well enough to know that’s NOT going to work for me.

This will be a slower process. And my new groove might look different than it did last year.

One of the things that fell by the wayside the last few weeks was my morning routine.

It wasn’t perfect, but it did mostly work for me. I say mostly because toward the end of the year I was thinking about how to tweak it to support me more.

Since that morning routine has mostly disappeared, this is a great time for me to think about what I want my new routine to look like, implement it, and tweak it as much as necessary.

Did the holidays change your morning routine?

Maybe January came and something you were doing EVERY morning fell by the wayside or was replaced by something else?

Or maybe you had some resolutions and changed A BUNCH of things at once and ALL those changes aren’t sticking (according to some studies right about now is when most people are abandoning their New Year Resolutions, although some studies put it at the second week of February).

If you’re trying to make a lot of other changes in your life or business right now, maybe pick one thing to add or remove from your morning routine.

If your morning routine has devolved into something that’s just not working at all (mine worked very well for taking it easy, but it’s not working so well for getting into my office when I want to in the morning), then it might be time for an overhaul.

This is a great time to take a step back and look at how your morning routine is working for you and decide what, if anything, needs to change with it.

And if you want a second pair of eyes or someone to help you with what changes you might want to make, reach out (add a comment below) and we can get something on the calendar.