Be More Productive with Zero-Based Thinking

Did you know that 95% of what we do is determined by our habits? And successful and happy people have good and healthy habits that enhance life and help them be highly productive. Whereas, unsuccessful and unhappy people have habits that can hurt them or hold them back from achieving success.

One of the most effective ways to help be more productive is to stop doing something that no longer makes sense, is harming you or holding you back. In order to help you determine what you should be stopping is what is called Zero-based Thinking.

Zero-Based Thinking

Your habits control the better part of your day, from the time you get up in the morning, until the time you get home. These habits control what you do, what you say, how you say things, how you react and respond to different stimuli. These are things as simple as making and having a cup of coffee in the morning before you take a shower. Or more complex like your full morning routine from getting up all the way to the time you walk into the office. These are all habits you have grown used to.

In fact, think of a time that your normal morning routine was disrupted for any reason. Children waking up late, dogs not coming back into the house, or any of the other millions of things that can go wrong in the morning as we are not only trying to adhere to habits, but a schedule as well. Did you feel crabby? Anxious? Upset? These are usually the emotions associated when our mornings haven’t been as planned.

And it is not to say any of these habits are harmful or holding you back, but every habit should be examined in this exercise. The idea in zero-based thinking is to first ask yourself the following questions based on what you now know:

  • Is there anything in life you would not do again?
  • Have you invested time, energy, emotions or money in any relationship (personal or business) that you would not commit to?
  • Are there any current products or services you would not offer today?
  • Is there a market you are selling to you would not enter?
  • Are there customers you would not take on?
  • Employees you would not hire?
  • Processes you would not adopt?
  • Channels of distribution you would not use?
  • Sales and marketing strategies you would not use?

If you have answered “yes” to any of the questions, the next question to ask yourself is “Why:”

  • Why are you still doing this in your life?
  • Why are you still involved in the relationship?
  • Why do you still offer those products or services?
  • Why have you not fired those customers or employees?
  • Why are your following the processes, using channels of distribution, the sales and marketing strategies?

Usually the underlying issue is that something has changed, and we have not either recognized it, ignored it, or not come to terms with it. Generally, we start relationships, hire employees or start a process because we benefit in some way from these activities. We are invested in them, they become part of our routines. However, since change is constant, these things may not be benefiting us in the way they did initially. But out of pure habit, we continue an outdated status quo.

In zero-based thinking, you determine these habits you need to change and ask yourself the final question of “What am I going to do about it?” One of the first instinctual answers is to eliminate it from your life, move on and learn from it. Answers are not always that easy. Consider a failing marriage. Certainly, a divorce is an option, however, the first step might be to seek counseling to see if the relationship can be repaired. Often times, less complicated items can be eliminated. That product that is not profitable and is no long functioning as a loss-leader, is easy to eliminate and redirect your energy into more positive business aspects.

This does not mean that you have to simply eliminate items. For example, you can delegate them or develop a new process. Zero-based thinking gives you two basic options with habits that are not positively serving you any longer:

  • Change them to make them work once again or
  • Abandon them

The Results

You may be surprised with the results of having more peace of mind, being more productive and overall generally more positive. Eliminating negative, non-functional or even worse, dysfunctional things in your life, gives you the opportunity to replace them with new, positive ones.

To keep the results going, this exercise needs to be performed regularly. Again, as most of the time, these negative things happen due to a change we are resisting, ignoring or have not fully understood yet. And as life continues to change, there will be things in our life we have to eliminate and new things to embrace.

Working with a Business Coach

This exercise is extremely productive when completed with a business coach. One of the biggest blocks to overcome in the exercise is to understand where things have changed, causing the habit or routine to become just that and no longer a benefit. While it may not be harming you, it is certainly taking up valuable time that could be better used elsewhere.

Setup a call to review how a business coach can help you find the items you should be stopping and make you happier and more productive.


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