So this is my, admittedly late, Entrepreneurial Chronicles check in. Last week was a pretty sucky week productivity-wise. Hannahbear was sick, so I didn’t get nearly as much work time as I wanted. She’s back in school this week, and I get 4 hours each day to myself, which is bliss.
I want to talk about habits today, since I’m keenly aware of their importance after a week like that where my entire schedule went to shit.
I don’t know if it’s just a Taurus thing, but I am a creature of habit, and I go all wonky when my routine gets messed up. Research has shown that daily routines are important for success, not just for executive suit types, but even more importantly for creatives. I expect creative entrepreneurs like me, combining both sides of their brains, would benefit the most from routine.
The thinking is simply that when you have the Little Things sorted out in a routine, it gives your brain space to think about the Big Picture, come up with new ideas, and create new things. I believe in this wholeheartedly. No mom who tries to get her kids ready for school while groggy herself can argue with the importance of routine for freeing up brain power.
Rituals fall into the same category. Many creatives have daily rituals that they stick to before they start to write, or paint, or create. It triggers something in you that says, “oh, hey, I know what’s going on here. We’re lighting a candle, we’re getting the coffee in the special Creativity Mug, we’re putting on Morten Lauridsen. It must be time to write.” The ritual turns the creativity on like a light switch.
Habits are the same for me. I used to write out in my to do list the same ten things every day: drink 8 glasses of water, listen to new music, exercise, do my morning pages and meditate, post to twitter, etc. It got old, writing all of this out. Why, I thought, couldn’t I have something that replicated them every day, since they were always the same? I wanted a tablet with them pre-printed, and room to add new ones.
Enter the habit tracker! Aha! A habit tracker! That’s exactly what I needed. These are habits that I wish to cultivate in myself so that they get worked into my schedule without me even needing to think about it. They just happen, the way I just breathe and don’t think about it. I needed something that would help me keep track of them until they did become so ingrained that they happened automatically.
I downloaded the iPro Habit Tracker for my android phone. There’s a free version, but I splurged $1 for the paid one. It lets you set up habits in different categories, and set how often you want to do them.
For example, I know I want to listen to Millennium of Music every Monday. I set it as a habit, and it pops up each Monday for me to check off. There are certain things I want to do every day; exercise, drink water, log my food, listen to new music, do my morning pages and meditate, take my vitamins, read, listen to a podcast, post and check in with my Mastermind groups, do something nice for my hubby, and track my money. They get set up as daily habits.
Then there are the things I want to do regularly, but not every day. Write in my blog, research for my podcast, buy the digital versions of my favorite UK magazines, clear up my digital clutter. These are habits that get set up for certain days of the week.
The great thing about the Habit Tracker I use is that you can also set categories you create. So I have categories like mind, body, spirit, relationship, and business. Then I can categorize each habit, and see where I might be lacking. Are all of my habits body related? Then maybe I need to add reading, or meditating.
A lot of physical planners come with habit trackers now as we become more aware of their importance, but I love the ease of use of just having mine on my phone. I scroll through a few times a day and check off the things I’ve done, and am reminded of new things I wanted to do. Boom, done, easy.
It took a bit of time to set them all up with their categories and time frames; maybe an hour to think of them all and decide how often I wanted to do them, but I am so happy with the result, and in the end it winds up saving me time and energy.
Once these habits become a part of me so much so that I don’t even need the habit tracker, then we’ll be on to the next step in being zen – not having your life go to absolute shit when your kid gets sick, and you’re not able to do them all. I really don’t do well when my routine is messed up!
Have you used a habit tracker? What was your experience like? I’d love to know what others think, and what kind of difference it’s made in your life. Let me know in the comments!