How to Create Transformative Entrepreneurial Habits

There’s a small number of habits that I have successfully created that have provided massive benefits to my businesses.

Distraction Free Work

Distraction Free Work

One of them is regular, distraction free work time. Every weekday morning between 8-10am I sit down and do only work that fits all of the following criteria:

  1. It will grow one or both of my businesses.
  2. It will have a permanent benefit.
  3. It will help progress me towards one of my current 90 day goals.
  4. If this was the only thing I got done today, I’d be happy with my progress for the day.

This could include tasks like creating evergreen content, creating or improving standard operating procedures for recurring tasks, learning and applying something new to your business, creating automated lead generation funnels, improving your sales process etc.

It does not include things like checking email, talking with co-workers or contractors, doing client work or making sales calls. While some of these might grow your business, they will only do it in a temporary way. Therefore they are not as important as things that have a permanent positive effect on your business.

The effects of the distraction free work habit on my business

This habit has had a transformative effect on my businesses. Recently it has allowed me to hire someone to manage my business Trialfacts, write a first draft of a book, create a free 30 day email course on How to Automate Your Business and create a new product line where I completely manage and do lead generation for clients (currently beta testing with two of my clients).

It doesn’t matter if I have something urgent due that day, have a fire to put out or I’m slowing down other people; my distraction free time to work on building my business comes first.

I don’t check my email first before getting into it, so a lot of the time if there is something “urgent” I won’t even know. The time is blocked out in my calendar as unavailable, I never schedule meetings during that time, and I don’t log onto Skype or any other communication channels I use with employees, contractors or clients.

I turn my phone on silent and place it face down away from me. My girlfriend knows not to interrupt me during this time, and if she does I politely remind her that I can’t talk right now.

The point is that your distraction free work time is sacred, and comes before everything else.

You’ll achieve more than you think

What do you think you could achieve by having just 2 hours every day where you made consistent progress on the things that would deliver lasting benefit to your business?

In my experience people actually greatly underestimate what they can achieve during this time, and when they implement distraction free time are amazed at the changes they actually put their business through.

This habit has allowed me to build other transformative habits on top of it, and has been so helpful that one of my goals for this quarter is to increase my distraction free work time from 2 to 3 hours per day, and I’m currently restructuring my business to achieve that.

Use the Alarm Method to Build Habits

There’s a lot of information out there about building habits, and if you’ve read any of it and tried it you know most of it doesn’t work.

This is the only method that has consistently worked for me.

1. Choose the right habit

Don’t choose a habit that would be mildly beneficial. Choose something that would have a profound effect on your life and achieving your goals. This is important because creating a habit is extremely hard, and if you choose the wrong one you won’t have enough motivation to create the habit.

Choose a habit that will have a permanent benefit and enable downstream habit formation. Distraction free work time is a good example because it will allow you to create ongoing benefits to your business. It also allows for more downstream habit formation. For example, if you create the habit of distraction free work from 8 to 10am, a possible downstream habit is to review your 90 day goals at 8am every morning.

Only choose 1. Never be working on more than one habit at a time.

2. Make it as achievable as possible while still providing you with permanent benefit

We tend to overestimate our capabilities when it comes to making changes to our current behaviours. Aim to underachieve. How could you make your habit incredibly easy to achieve but ensure it still provides the permanent benefit?

For example, instead of 2 hours of distraction free time, perhaps 30 minutes is more realistic and achievable, but will still allow you to create permanent positive effects in your business. Once it’s a habit you can then much more easily increase it from 30 minutes to 2 hours or more.

3. Build it into your daily routine

Habits which do not fit into a regular daily routine are infinitely harder to create. You need to destroy any ambiguity about when you will perform the new behaviour. You can’t leave any room whatsoever for you to put it off or delay the new behaviour. You do this by setting a specific time that it is done every day.

A week or longer between the behaviour change is too much time. Your priorities will change and your motivation will soften.

4. Use an alarm

The quickest way to destroy your chances of creating a new habit are to forget to do it. Set an alarm on your phone. Name it something meaningful like “Distraction free work” and make sure it goes off at the same time every day or every weekday.

When that obnoxious alarm on your phone goes off and it’s flashing “Distraction free work” there’s no ambiguity as to what you need to do, and there’s no way you can forget it.

If for some reason you are doing something incredibly important or need to delay the start of the behaviour, use the snooze function instead of turning the alarm off. If for example you’re on a phone call or not quite home and the alarm goes off, just hit snooze repeatedly until you actually start performing the new behaviour you wish to turn into a habit.

Move on to the next transformative habit

When is the new behaviour a habit? When you no longer need the alarm. Don’t underestimate how long you need to keep this alarm on. I recommend an absolute minimum of 3 months.

You can move on a little quicker if you start working on a new habit that builds upon your previous habit. For example if your new habit is to review your 90 day goals at the start of your distraction free work, then you can only do that if you’re actually doing your distraction free work. By focusing on developing the new habit you are reinforcing the previous one.

What should you implement during your distraction free work time?

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  • https://www.facebook.com/sharon.craver.10 Sharon Craver

    Nick, some valuable business advice for any business person, whether you are an entrepreneur or not. I wish you great success with your new book.

  • Alejandro

    Cheers man! Exemplary stuff here.

  • http://www.pisoftware.com Kelly Bakst

    Great article. Just wondering – you must allow for SOME method of emergency interruptions – how do you do that? Ring through for certain numbers only on the iPhone in Do Not Disturb mode would be my choice, but wondering how you handle it.

    Again – great work here.

    Kelly

    • http://42insights.com/ Nick Karrasch

      HI Kelly. Not really. What type of emergencies do you have in mind? Anything work based can wait until 10am. If you wanted to use Do Not Disturb but allow family members to call you, you could do that. You would just have to remind them that they should only contact you for emergencies during your distraction free work hours.

  • Nicole

    Great article! My favorite piece of advice is “If this was the only thing I got done today, I’d be happy with my progress for the day.” I make sure to do at least 1 very productive thing a day and it helps me feel like I’m consistently making progress.