The start of a new year often brings lots of ideas of ways that you want this year to be different than the last. By this point in the year though, resolutions may have faded, or old habits may have resurfaced. Today, I want to talk about eight habits you might want to consider implementing this year to make small improvements to your business and to your personal life.
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When I was making this list, it was clear that there was a divide between business habits that you might want to put into place and then also some personal habits. I think it’s important to think of your habits in both parts of your life because what you do in your business greatly affects your personal life and vice versa. So, the idea for this came from a few books that I read towards the end of last year. One of those books is called Soundtracks by Jon Acuff and the other Atomic Habits by James Clear. These two books kind of had me in a mindset of just talking about some of these habits that I really think can change your business and can change your personal life. Some of these habits are things that I’ve been doing for a long time, and some are even things we’ve talked about on the podcast before. Let’s dive right in!
Habit # 1: Set Work Hours
It is important to set these work hours because it gives you a container in which you must get things done. If you’re anything like me, sometimes you need that pressure of a deadline to be able to really get things done on time, and to get things moving. When you don’t have that deadline, it’s really hard to make progress on certain goals, especially the goals that maybe are not the most fun but are things that you need to do.
By setting work hours for yourself, you’re really helping to create that boundary for yourself. It helps you to protect your boundary and your balance between your personal life and your work life. So really think about how much time you need or want to work on your business every week. Remember to include things like administrative work, CEO work that you must do, as well as the time that you have to spend in the kitchen and on your computer actually working on your blog.
Once you have a rough idea of how many hours you think you’re going to need every week, then start to set those work hour containers. This can be as simple as saying that you are not going to start working before 10am and that you’re going to wrap up by five. Or maybe you have a dedicated lunch hour, so that you can get outside and take a walk and make sure that you are actually eating and taking care of yourself. Whatever this needs to look like for you, be intentional about just setting something up that you think you can follow and then try to follow it and see what happens. You can always adjust these hours later.
Habit # 2: Set Daily & Weekly Priorities
This kind of goes hand in hand with setting your work hours because it makes it really easy to know what’s realistic for you to accomplish every week. We talked about this in Episode 97, which was about weekly priorities and then in Episode 102 which was about setting daily priorities. If you haven’t listened to those specific episodes, make sure you go back and listen to those. This is important because it helps you to be intentional about the time that you’re spending on your business and what you’re doing. When you kind of sit down and just work on whatever seems most urgent at the moment, you will often neglect some of the bigger priorities that you have.
On the other hand, if you set a weekly priority, every single week, of one thing that you want to achieve in your business or one thing that’s going to draw you closer to the goals that you’ve set for the month or for the quarter, it’s really going to help you to actually make progress. Daily priorities then are really just a reflection of that as well. It helps you to see what is one action that you could do or one task you could complete, that would help you to complete that weekly priority. Having that one priority or a few priorities that you need to get done every day can really help you streamline what you need to get done and help take the overwhelm out of having less time to work on your business.
Habit # 3: Get Ahead on Creating Content
Personally, this is something that I have to take season by season. There are some seasons of the podcast and our blog content where we are really far ahead, and it feels amazing. Then what often happens is that you kind of take your foot off the gas and you get a little bit behind. When I talk about creating a habit of getting ahead on creating content, I think this really comes down to setting up rhythms in your business, so that you are constantly ahead or constantly striving to be ahead and that it’s not just a seasonal thing. Because it is so beneficial if you can get ahead, to take a break from your blog for a week to go on vacation or take a break over the holidays. Or maybe you have something like maternity leave coming up and you really have to get ahead on content.
Building a habit around consistently being ahead helps for so many different reasons. The first and one of the most important reasons is that this is essential to your business and a habit you absolutely should create, as it will really stop you from scrambling. You’re going to be able to produce higher quality work if you are not doing it last minute. Another reason this is super helpful, is that eventually if you want to bring on team members to help you, being ahead is key. You are not going to be able to find somebody who is willing to work on a blog post at midnight the day before it needs to go live, in the same way that you would do that.
This is also really helpful when life happens. There have been so many times where I have been so thankful that we are ahead on podcast content because something happens and I’m not able to record new episodes for a few weeks. It helps to know we have it covered, and I can catch up after we get caught up with the backlog of episodes we were ahead on. This is so essential to the success of your business and to the stress level of your business being minimized.
On a related side note: being able to batch work is going to help you to get ahead as well. When you’re able to get multiple recipes tested at the same time, or you’re able to do photos and edit photos for multiple recipes, it’s going to help to cut down the time that you are switching tasks, and it’s going to help you be more efficient in what you are doing. Start by just looking at how many blog posts you need to create every week and what would it look like if you were able to start getting ahead on those. What would you need to do to be able to get one week of content done ahead of time, and what kind of boundaries could you put in place for yourself to help you stay ahead in that way?
Habit # 4: Outsource
If you’ve listened to this podcast for any length of time, you know how passionate I am about outsourcing things in your business. In Episode 99, I interviewed Andrew Wilder for The Food Blogger Summit, and he and I had a conversation about building your website team and what that can really look like. I loved some of the ideas that Andrew shared about things that you might even already be outsourcing within your business and how to think about outsourcing in your business as a strategic move. Because at the end of the day, it really is something that is going to propel your business forward in the long run.
When you implement some of these other habits, like setting your work hours and setting priorities and trying to get ahead on content, it may reveal areas where you already need to outsource. Maybe it has nothing to do with content, maybe there’s something else in your business that you really need to outsource. Maybe there is some website management, maybe there’s some updates to your website or maybe you are just ready to outsource social media. Whatever it is that comes to mind as the thing that you hate doing within your business, outsource it.
Every single business owner has seen a return on their investment and seen their revenue grow as they have been able to let go of the things that they don’t love doing or are not great at doing. I have absolutely seen that to be true in my own business as well. Think about a few things that you could outsource within your business or even within your personal life. Maybe there are a few things that you need support with around the house, or some things that keep getting put on the to do list and keep getting neglected. Maybe you can have someone come over and help you to go through some of those honey do list items that you have and have been avoiding. Trust me when I say it will feel very good to finally get those things accomplished.
Habit # 5: Read More
Now let’s shift into some of the more personal side of things and the personal habits that I think will also help your business in the long run, the first one being to read more. This is a habit I’ve really been working on in the last year and I also feel like it’s an example from Atomic Habits that really stuck with me. It isn’t something that he necessarily says in the book, but it’s something that just helped me to understand the concepts behind the book. The idea is that instead of saying that you’re going to read 12 books in a year and making that a goal, you would instead say that you’re someone who is a reader. James Clear points out that it is more significant to implement the habits you want in a way that they just inevitably become part of who you are, as opposed to something you do.
In the reading example, to be a reader, you need to read 10 minutes a day. Being able to break down a goal to reading 10 minutes a day is going to help you to achieve more in the long run because you are implementing a habit that will just become part of who you are. Over time, when you spend 10 minutes a day reading, that’s going to add up to 70 minutes per week, which adds up to a lot of time every month and every year. By having those little habits, you’re able to create the time for the things that you want.
Another tip with reading more is don’t be afraid to count the time that you are listening to an audiobook or things that feel like reading to you. It could be time reading a magazine, it could be time just browsing a cookbook. There are so many things that can count as reading and obviously you don’t have to track the hours that you’re spending reading. But just make simple changes to your habits to read more often because this is going to help you to be filled with more knowledge and information.
You can also look into subscription services that send you books like Scribd or Audible. Also keep in mind that if you have access to a public library, a lot of them have partnered with different companies to be able to provide audio books. This is a great way to be able to listen to audiobooks or even read eBooks for free.
Habit # 6: Spend More Time Outside
My family and I have been working on this 1000 Hours Outside challenge which started on Instagram. Basically, it’s this idea to get outside for 1000 hours per year, which is the average amount of time that children spend on screens in a year. They are combating this by saying, “Let’s spend 1000 hours outside,” to make up for the time that kids are spending on screens. For us, that has been a big challenge to get us outside three hours a day. So what I have been doing is trying to tweak the activities we’re already doing, but doing them outside. For example, if we can eat a snack and lunch and even dinner outside, then we try to do that.
Spending time outside is so good for us, and this is something I’ve seen so clearly with my kids. If they are having a crazy day and they just need to get some energy out, sending them outside just changes everything. Or if they have a day outside where they’re spending four or five hours outside, they’re just in the best moods. I think this is something we’ve lost as adults, mostly because of our culture and because we sit inside and work. But it’s so important for us to get outside to recharge even to get some sun and I think adding in this habit can be really life changing for you. I know this can be a challenge if you live somewhere that is miserable in certain seasons. But if you can get the proper gear and you can just force yourself to do a walk outside for 10 minutes or go walk in the rain and play in the puddles with your kids, the benefits will speak for themselves. Things like this are just such joyful experiences and I think we just have to force ourselves to not be grumpy adults who don’t want to be outside when it’s not “perfect” weather.
I think this is something that is just so lost on us as adults and it’s unfortunately something that I think as entrepreneurs, we really struggle with being able to do. So take your laptop outside and go work outside for a little bit or go outside and read a book, or take a walk, or lay in a hammock and read, or listen to a podcast in your backyard. Whatever it is that you can do, even if it’s only five or 10 minutes a day, I promise you it is really going to recharge you in a way that not many things can.
Habit # 7: Meal Plan & Use Grocery Pick Up or Delivery
I have been doing grocery curbside pickup since way before the pandemic. I have been doing this basically since I’ve had two kids, so back in 2018 is when I started doing this. It is a serious game changer in so many different ways and the bonus is that it really forces me to meal plan. Because if I don’t know what we’re going to eat then I can’t order food. It also forces us to be intentional about what we’re spending, because when we go to the grocery store, we always find things that we don’t need. It can also really help with just having a rhythm and a routine around this.
I have found that it just really helped to keep our grocery budget low as well, because we are only buying the things that we need for a week at a time, with the exception of some bulk items. It really has just helped us to be thoughtful about what we’re buying every week and not be overspending. Grocery pickup honestly is an amazing form of outsourcing.
If you are not doing this, this is something that can save you an hour or two every single week. You can use an actual service like Instacart and have them deliver it to you or you can use Walmart’s grocery pickup. I highly recommend giving this a try and more so than just trying it, I highly recommend making this a rhythm and a habit that you have in your week. Pick a specific day that you meal plan and a specific day that you either order your groceries or go to the grocery store to pick up your order, and don’t let this be something else that feels chaotic in your life.
Habit # 8: Take Care of Yourself
If you’re anything like me, you might hear this and roll your eyes and just want to move on. The idea of self-care has always been something that I have struggled with, because I guess I think of it being like bubble baths and candles and getting a pedicure and things like that. Those can all be great things if that’s what works for you. When I say taking care of yourself, it can mean so many different things. For me, self-care is making sure that I’m reading more and spending more time outside and meal planning and doing grocery pickup. Those are the things that keep my head on straight.
For you, it may be that you need time to relax with a massage or a pedicure. Or maybe you need time to be outside going on an adventure like a hike or vegging out in front of the TV with your favorite Netflix show. Taking care of yourself is doing whatever it is that you feel like you need to do, in order to operate at whatever the highest level is for you, and the level that you want to be at. That’s what I want you to prioritize, and I want you to create habits around whatever those things may be for you.
When I don’t do those things, and I sacrifice that time for more work, I really see everything else start to suffer. I think it is so important to really figure out what you need to do to take care of yourself. Ask yourself what that means for you. What are those non-negotiable things that you need to have on your calendar? What are those things you need in your daily life that you can’t possibly go without? I want you to get really intentional about making sure that those become established habits for you this year. That is how you’re going to continue to be able to operate at the highest level and really be able to be the CEO that your business needs, and to be able to sustain this for the long haul.
To briefly review these eight habits one more time, they are as follows:
1. Setting work hours.
2. Setting daily and weekly priorities.
3. Getting ahead on creating content.
5. Reading more.
6. Spending more time outside.
7. Meal planning and grocery pickup
8. Taking care of yourself.
I would love for you to go over to Instagram and share this episode and let me know which habit you are planning on implementing first. Let me know which of these you are excited about implementing this year. I hope that you get the support you need to be able to truly implement these habits into your life and that you see the amazing difference they can make for you and your business.