Build Your Skills

How to Turn Shipping Frequently Into a Habit

Lesson 4

Now we're getting into some really interesting stuff: the idea for this lesson is to give you the tools you need to turn high productivity and shipping into a habit. That means you'll do it more often, better and more easily.

Recap: The Rider & The Elephant

The first thing we need to understand about making this work is the model of the rider and the elephant.

The rider is the part of your brain that you identify as yourself. It's your inner voice, the part of you that plans ahead, thinks rationally and makes decisions.

The elephant is the other part of your brain. And it's the much bigger, much stronger part. The elephant acts on instinct. It's main focus is survival and reproduction and it's where the fight-or-flight response comes from.

If the rider has one idea and the elephant another, the elephant always wins. This is why willpower and "just do it!" don't work.

Recap: 3 Part Habits​

The second thing we need to understand is that any real habit - a habit that's truly ingrained and happens "automatically" has 3 parts to it:

  1. The Trigger
  2. The Action
  3. The Reward

Why is this important?

Because we mistakenly always focus on just the action. But unless you become aware of your triggers and rewards as well, you can neither change your current habits nor form new ones.

The trigger can be anything internal ("I'm bored") or external (your phone vibrates). The action is whatever you do in response to the trigger (reach for your phone) and the reward is what happens as a result of the action (you see your notification and relieve the tension of not knowing what's going on).​

Create a Productive Work Habit

At least once every working day, create one hour of distraction free work during which you focus entirely on one important, high leverage task for your business. Even if you do this only for one hour a day, if you pick the most important task and do it consistently, this will lead you to make more productive progress than most people do all day.

Productive Work Habit - Action Steps

  • Before you end your day, write down the most important task you want to work on, the following day.
  • Formulate a SMART goal for this most important task.
  • Decide when during the following day you will dedicate at least one hour to this task. Schedule this time in your calendar and set a notification or alarm for when it starts.
  • When your productive work time starts, put your phone into airplane mode, shut down all computer programs except the one you need to do the work and turn off all notifications of any kind. Make sure your 1 hour is 100% distraction free.
  • When you've completed the 1 hour of work, mark it in your calendar as a successful completion.

Lower the Diving Board

Big tasks can be difficult to start on and this leads to procrastination. To overcome this problem, apply the "lower the diving board" method.​

Lower the Diving Board - Action Steps

  • Choose a task, goal or type of work that you typically procrastinate on or find intimidating to start on.
  • Decide on a tiny minimum amount to do. This could be: spend 3 minutes writing content or write only 50 words of copy.
  • Set yourself a Personal KPI to do this minimum dosage of the work each day.

Design a Productive Environment

One of the biggest insights from the last decades of social sciences is that our environment is hugely important for our behavior. We may like to think that we are always the same person and will therefore always make the same choices. But the truth is: we think differently and act differently, depending on our environment.

For your productivity, you can use this to your advantage, by creating a highly productive environment for yourself.​

Productive Environment - Action Steps

  • Create a clear separation between your work space and non-work spaces. Don't work with your laptop on your bed. Don't watch movies on your computer at your desk.
  • Remove distractions and temptations from your work environment.
  • Work in a quiet environment or use good headphones.
  • Let others know when you don't want to be distracted. A simple rule like "when I'm wearing my headphones, I'm in focus mode" can help those around you respect your working time.
  • Work with deep focus in your work environment and then step away from it and do something else.
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