3 Tips to Help You Increase Your Productivity

In today’s lesson, I want to chat about how to be more productive in your blogging (and life) through building good habits and systems into what you do.


It’s so easy as an online entrepreneur to slip into bad habits when it comes to using our time or to lead a life where we spend our time frantically moving from one urgent thing to another without really putting much thought into what we need to get done.

So today, I want to share with you 3 things that have helped me to begin to form good habits in my blogging, business, and many other aspects of my life.

So, if you’re someone who struggles with managing your time or have tried to build good habits but have failed to stay on track – this episode is just for you.

In Today’s Episode on 3 Productivity Tips to Help You Build Healthy Habits

  • Start with your goals and why.
  • The power of saying ‘It’s just what I do’.
  • Think Systems – not habits.


Further Resources on 3 Productivity Tips to Help You Build Healthy Habits

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Welcome to episode 163 of the ProBlogger Podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com. I blog, podcast, event, job board and series of ebooks, all designed to help you as a blogger to grow your audience, building engagement with that audience and to make some money from your blog whilst hopefully making the world a better place too. You can learn more about ProBlogger at problogger.com.

In today’s lesson, I want to chat to you about how to be more productive in your blogging and life through building some good habits. In fact, I want to talk about building a system around these habits in what you do. It’s so easy as an online entrepreneur, as a creative, to slip into bad habits when it comes to using our time and to lead a life where we spend our time frantically moving from one urgent thing to another or really responding to the agendas of other people without putting too much thought into what we need to get done.

Today I want to share with you three things that have helped me to begin to form good habits in my blogging, in my business, and to be honest, many other aspects of my life because these things really do apply beyond blogging. If you’re someone who struggles with managing your time or have tried to build good habits in the past but have failed to stay on track like I have many times in the past, this episode is just for you. I’ll link also to the next episode once it goes live because this is a two-parter. I’m going to share three tips for you today and then we’re going to build upon those three tips in episode 164. If you’re listening to this a week or so later, you can listen to two today.

Let’s get into talking about how to build good habits for your blog, business and life. Anyone who’s been listening to this podcast for a while now knows a few things about me. In fact, you probably know quite a few things about me but two of them in particular which have been recurring things.

Firstly, I’m not a naturally organized person. If you’ve done the myers-briggs personality assessment, I have IMNINFP. The P part is the bit that’s off the charts for me. That P aspect of my personality, it’s me not being a great planner, it’s me not being naturally ordered, it’s me not knowing from one moment to the other what I’m going to do next. I’m an impulsive kind of person and I don’t like to be pigeon holed.

I joke quite a bit with my team who are all the opposite to that P part. They’re all J personalities and that they all love spreadsheets and I don’t and they’re much more ordered. In some ways, I’ve hired the right kind of people because it really does help me to keep on track. But on the flip side of that part of my personality is that I’ve managed over the last few years to build my business through building certain kinds of systems, habits, and routines that enable me to get things done. I guess I’ve had the realization, growing realization over the years, that because of that P part of my personality, that disorganized and spontaneous part, my business was always going to be limited unless I actually got my act together with some of those sorts of routines. That’s what I want to talk about today.

If you listened to episode 45 quite a while ago now, I talked about Seven Habits of Lucky Entrepreneurs and you would have seen and heard about in that episode me sharing my system for my week. You can actually see that system in the show notes of that episode and I’ll also include them today. It’s a calendar that maps out what I do between 8:00AM and 10:00PM every weekday. It’s pretty crazy. I’ve mapped out everyday from 8:00AM to 10:00PM and I’ve shared this weekly routine a few times recently and I’ve been getting a lot of questions about it. I wanted to dig a little bit deeper into that.

How did I actually build that system? How did I actually build some of the good habits that I’ve managed to build to enable me to grow my business? This will be particularly relevant for those of you who share that personality trait that I have, that spontaneous, impulsive and not a planner. We naturally don’t like to build routines and systems and build those sort of habits. That’s what today’s episode is really all about. I want to share a few thoughts on how to build some of these habits into your life particularly around your blogging and business.

Before I get into the three things that I want to say today, I want to say that I am not a productivity expert. This is still a daily struggle for me. Whilst I’ve got this great template for my week that has helped me so much, I’m not always perfect at keeping it and I’m constantly tweaking it as well. I should probably also say that what I’m going to share with you today is probably going to appeal to those of you who do share that sort of personality trait. Those of you who are highly organized naturally may not find as much use in what I’m going to say today because you probably got a lot of these under control. I hope that you find some gold in this as well today.

The three things that I want to talk about today. The first one is something you’ve probably heard before. It’s so important. The first one is to start with your goals and why. There’s no point in thinking about building good habits if you’ve not thought about your why, your motivation of why you want to build those things. There are things in life which most people universally agree are good habits but I’ve never personally had any success in building any of them into my life until I’ve connected with my why and I’ve set myself at least some kind of fuzzy goal to aim for.

My health journey over the last few years is perhaps the best illustration of this. Some of you have heard me tell my story of my health journey over the last couple of years and I’m going to tap into that a few times during today’s episode. Since I was a kid, right from a little age, I knew what I needed to do to be healthy and we all do. We get taught at school, even at kindergarten, my five-year old has been taught this. I knew about diet. I knew about exercise. I knew about sleep. I knew these all were good habits.

There are points over my journey where I’ve had these little health kicks to try and build some of this habits but my heart was never in it. I never really connected with my why. I understood it on a head level but I never really had a heart connection to diet, exercise and sleep. As a result, I was never able to really keep those habits going for too long. I would last a few weeks, maybe a month but I would never get beyond that. It was going through a cycle of diets or little exercise kicks.

This coming January, in a couple of months’ time, three months’ time will mark my two-year anniversary of walking 10,000 steps almost every day. I can’t believe I’m at this point, two years of almost every day walking 10,000 steps. I’ve had a few occasional days where I’ve missed it and I’ll talk a little bit about that in the next episode but I rarely miss it.

I’ve also been eating healthier for about the same amount of time and I’ve been consistently going to the gym for six months. I’ve built some good habits in this and the habits have not gone away. This is the longest I’ve ever lasted on this type of thing. I’m not perfect with my exercise or diet but as I say this is the longest period I’ve ever managed to keep it going with this type of focus.

For me, one of the key things that I believe strongly that has helped me this time around is that it all started with my why. I had the realization at the start of 2015 that I was in a slump and that my future wasn’t looking great as a result of that. Physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually, I was unhealthy in all of these different areas and I realized something needed to change or I wouldn’t be around to see my kids growing up. I’ve talked to a lot of parents who have this motivation, I guess, for getting their act together is that it’s really often connected to children or family or a partner and willing to be there. For me, that was a big part of it. For me, confronting the slump I was in and really connecting with those motivating factors helped me to make some of those first steps towards good habits.

Some of my early goals, I talked about having a why but also having some goals, for me some of those early goals were about losing some weight and also increasing my movement. For me, it started off with 10,000 steps a day which was something that a number of my friends had these goals as well. For me, really it was about addressing the why but also having some measurable goals really helped me through the tough times that followed in making those goals a reality and building those habits. For me, that’s the first thing I really want to mention today. It’s all well and good to say we want to build good habits but why, why do you want those good habits, what are your goals. Really important to do that ground work before you start to try and build the good habit.

The second thing is there’s a lot of power in a little mantra that I have. The mantra that I have is to say to myself, “It’s just what I do.” I don’t remember where I got this or who I got it from. It’s been at least 10 years that I’ve been saying this but this is one of the little mantras I say to myself numerous times every day, particularly when I’m trying to build a new habit. I say it a lot more. “It’s just what I do.”

Building good habits doesn’t generally come easy for me. Maybe, again, it’s my personality type that doesn’t gravitate towards a routine or having a system or habit but I suspect most people struggle to find a new habit. I come up against a resistance every time that I try and build a good habit. There’s a resistance every time that I’m confronted with that idea of going for that walk in the early days of beginning to walk every day. Sometimes, the resistance is a little temptation to do something the opposite of the good habit that I’m trying to build, to eat something unhealthy or to lie down and have a snooze when I should be up for a walk. Sometimes the resistance is simply me trying to talk myself out of having to do it today, let’s just have a day off today.

One of the things that I’ve tried to do over the last couple of years particularly is every time I come up against that resistance, every time it feels hard, every time it doesn’t feel like it’s going to happen, I try and give myself a little bit of self-talk with that mantra. “It’s just what I do.” “Walking. It’s just what I do.” “Eating healthy. It’s just what I do.”

In the early days, it doesn’t come easy. You’ll say that to yourself and you go, “No, it’s not.” In the early days of me walking 10,000 steps a day, the reality was it wasn’t just what I did. I actually tracked my walking for a couple of weeks before I started to do 10,000 steps a day and I was doing 1,300 steps a day which is really embarrassing to admit because I basically never left my house. I was in that much of a slump. My goal of 10,000 a day, it wasn’t just what I do but I forced myself out for that first day and I achieved the goal, I got to 10,000. It took me an hour, an hour and a half of walking which in the scheme of things wasn’t that much.

The next day when I was confronted with that little bit of resistance to go out for a walk, I could legitimately say to myself it’s just what I do because I’ve done it, I did it once. It may not have been the most convincing mantra that day but the next day when I’ve done it twice, it was just what I did. The next day when I’ve done it 3 times and the day a week later when I’ve done it 7 days in a row and when I’ve done it 10 days in a row, it did gradually bring truth because it was just what I’ve been doing.

I actually talked to a friend recently who does almost exactly the same thing. They actually have a meditation at the start of the day where they name the things that they are trying to build into their life and the actually chant almost to themselves and they say it’s a bit of a Buddhist practice that they do. They described it as changing the way you see yourself. The goal, I guess, here is that through self-talk and a bit of repetition of the habit, that you slowly eliminate the need to make a conscious choice about it and you begin to see yourself as a person who just does that thing and you don’t have to summon that willpower to get something done. It becomes natural, I guess.

It kind of reminds me a little bit of why I brush my teeth every night before I go to bed. I actually brush my teeth in the morning as well but for me, growing up, it was just what we did in our family. I remember my parents drumming it into us in that time where there was resistance as a child of not wanting to brush my teeth. They used to just say something like, “It’s just what you do before you go to bed.” And gradually over time and through repetition, it was just something that I do and today every time I go to bed it’s something I do without thinking. I don’t have to make a choice to do it. I don’t have to summon willpower to do it. It’s just what I do.

I guess ultimately here this is what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to normalize the habit, the thing that we are trying to build into our life. That takes a choice early on but sometimes this self-talk can help.

The other thing that really helped me is that I used to schedule the things that I was trying to normalize. I’m a big believer in making appointments with myself. My diary, I don’t tend to put a lot of things in there, other people want me to do. I put in the things that I want to do and a lot of it is trying to build habits. When I started walking every day, I used to put into my diary at 12:30PM, walk. I set myself an alarm. It was on repeat every weekday, actually it was every day at 12:30, an alarm would go off and it would say walk.

Making an appointment with myself, it actually helped me to get into that rhythm and for it to become a normal thing. In time, I began to arrange my work day and my days around the walk because it was in my diary. It was the thing that I’ve scheduled. And then gradually over time, I was able to stop using the alarm because my body started to anticipate the walk and my brain started to anticipate it. In fact, if I didn’t go for a walk, I would start to feel a little bit edgy.

In whatever way works for you, try to normalize it. Maybe some self-talk. Maybe it’s through scheduling it and making an appointment with yourself for a particular thing. I’m going to talk a little bit more about that in the next thing that I want to say.

Number one, start with your goals and whys. Number two, it’s just what I do. The third thing I want to talk about today before I let you go and have a bit of a ponder of these stuff for yourself is to think about systems. Think about systems, not necessarily habits. The word habit to me, it’s a loaded word. It’s a good habit or it’s a bad habit. These words are loaded and for me there’s a lot of guilt attached to habits. I didn’t do the good habit. I am doing the bad habit. To me, it’s not really the most helpful word in some ways even though I am talking about habits today. I try to neutralize that word by thinking about a system, by thinking about a routine.

When I actually had that idea a couple of years ago now to come up with my weekly schedule, I challenged myself really to build a system, a machine if you like, that would help me to achieve my goals in life but particularly around my business and other important parts of my life. I started with my goals. I started with my why and I asked myself what tasks, what practices would need to happen every week for me to reach my goals.

As you look at my schedule, you will see that every single thing in that schedule relates to goals that I have in my life and my motivations as well. If you look at that schedule, you’ll see that I have identified that as a blogger I need to create content. It’s an important thing for me. I can’t be a blogger unless I’m creating content. I can’t be a podcaster unless I’m creating content. For me, I realized that I needed to block out some fairly significant chunks of my time and you’ll see as you look at the schedule five times a week, I’ve blocked out slabs of time, whole mornings of time, whole afternoons of time to create content. There’s different aspects of creating content that I do at different times. It’s a whole other topic but for me that’s a goal and so it gets scheduled in.

You’ll see I’ve also got times in there for learning to keep abreast of my industry, to stay mentally stimulated. I know I need to dedicate time every week to learn and so you’ll see I set aside time each week for reading, listening to audiobooks and listening to podcasts. It just so happens that that happens at the same time that I exercise. I am able to do a lot of listening to podcasts and audiobooks while I’m exercising so I’m multitasking and that’s a good one.

You’ll also see there I put aside time every day to do administrative tasks. Email, my social media, team related stuff. You’ll see there that I put time aside every day for family, every morning, every night. That’s another of my important goals at the end of every day. There’s time for meditation and again this is related to my goals.

What you’re seeing here are not a list of habits that I want to have. It’s a system and I’ve scheduled all of the things that are there. It’s not just a matter of saying, “I want to build this habit.” It’s actually about scheduling that habit and building a system, building a routine. And then it becomes what I do because I’ve got the system. It’s designed based upon my goals and my why and rather than me just getting up every day and doing what I feel like today. Which habit should I work on today? I’ve actually built a system.

For me, one of the reasons that I’ve been able to raise my productivity as a blogger and achieve some of the other goals in my life along the lines of exercise and diet is actually really systematizing a lot of the things that are important to me. It’s about coming up with a schedule that is all about reaching my goals very intentionally.

There are the three things I wanted to leave with you today. As I said, I’ve got three more for you that I want to talk about in the next episode but just to recap, start with your goals and why. That maybe something you, as soon as this podcast finishes, maybe you need to go back and actually do some thinking around that, do a bit of a journaling around. What’s your why? What are the important things that you need to do and to set yourself some goals. As a blogger, it may be that you need to create some content and maybe you want to put some numbers to that. Maybe you want to create three posts a week. Starting with that is really important rather than just saying I need to create some content. Actually putting a measurable thing on that.

Number two was the power of just saying it’s just what I do. Maybe you need to actually do some self-talk around that. Maybe you need to actually write those things down next to your computer. You just create content, three posts a week. It’s just what you do. It’s just what you do. You don’t have to summon that willpower. It’s just what you do.

Then it’s about building a system around that. when are you going to write those pieces of content? When are you going to do those things that you need to do to build the business that you want to have? Actually begin to build that schedule. I will share with you a version of my schedule in the show notes,  I do tweak it from time to time. The one I’ll share with you today is probably, by the time you listen to it, going to be changed a little bit but it will show you what I’ve done, what I aim to do every week. I will say it seems overwhelming and I’m going to talk a little bit about how I got to that point in the next episode because it didn’t just happen. I want to talk about how to actually start out and take it to that level.

You can listen into episode 164 if it’s already gone live. You can go straight and listen to that or you can wait for a couple of days. I hope you found this useful. I really would love to hear what you think about this because I’m sharing my tips today based upon my personality. Maybe you’ve got a different way. Maybe you could teach me a thing or two about how to do this better. Let me know what you think about the three things I’ve said today. Tweet me at @problogger or find us on Facebook, facebook.com/problogger. Thanks for listening today. Hope you have a productive day and I’ll chat with you in a couple of days time in episode 164.

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