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How a 30-Day Habit can Revolutionize your Internet Business

by Steve Scott | Join Him On Facebook

30 Day Internet Habit ExperimentWhen I first started this blog, one of the things I did was try a concept called the 30-Day Habit Experiment.

Today I’d like to talk about this concept; why I initially failed with it; and how it’s now helping me get incredible results with my Internet lifestyle.

Introducing the 30-Day Habit Experiment (30DHE)

The 30-Day Habit Experiment (30DHE) is a popular concept in personal development.  The idea is simple.  You “test drive” a habit for a month and see if it sticks.

We all want to live better lives.  Lose weight.  Quit smoking.   Make more friends.  Get that promotion.  Find that special someone. These are all goals people make for themselves.  But they often fail because it’s hard to make a permanent change to their behavior.

The reason people fail is because ‘forever’ seems like, well…FOREVER.  If you wanted to quit smoking, it’s really hard to say you’ll never have another cigarette.

With the 30DHE, you don’t talk about forever.  Instead you make the promise to develop (or change) a habit for only a month.  That’s it.  After the month is over, you evaluate this habit and decide if you want to keep doing it.

My Experiments with the 30 Day Habit Experiment

Back in January of 2010, I implemented the 30DHE.  It worked well for a few months.  In fact, I started a number of habits that I still do on a daily basis.  Unfortunately I stopped this experiment while I spent seven months in Europe.  I guess I didn’t develop the habit of sticking with the 30 day habit. :-)

This March I decided to reintroduce the thirty day habit.  This time I wanted it to stick.  So I made sure each habit was applicable to my Internet Lifestyle.  For instance, here are a few habits I’ve successfully implemented:

  • March Habit- Write Every Day: I’ve always found time to create content.  But I never made this a formalized habit.  In March, I “time blocked” 1 ½ hours each morning for writing.  Most of this time was spent working on the course I’m launching on the 4th of July.

(To learn more about this habit, read my free Book Empire 2011 report which talks about the importance of writing on a daily basis.)

  • April Habit- Use a Notebook to Track my Projects: During this month, I developed the habit of writing down my projects into a single notebook.  Each section has a list of step-by-step actions that need to be completed.  So whenever I work on a “project,” I immediately know what I need to do next.  This is a concept I cover in this post:  The Art of Completing Internet Marketing Projects.
  • May Habit- Set a Timer for Each Task: For many months, I’ve used an iPhone App to time certain tasks.  But in May, I turned this into an official habit.  Now I put a clock on every single action I do online.  This has had an amazing impact on my productivity.  I’m now able to get a lot more done in the same amount of time.
  • June Habit- Use Twitter on a Daily Basis: Networking is a skill that I lack.  And I think that’s why I’ve never had much success with Twitter and Facebook.  So this month, I’ve decided to work on developing the Twitter habit.

My goal is simple.  All I have to do is use Twitter once a day and talk to people.  This goes beyond the automated content that I’ve done in the past.  Instead I try to form actual relationships with the people I’ve met online.

So far, I’ve managed to develop four habits in four months.  Not a bad start if you ask me.  Hopefully I’ll develop many more habits in the months to come!

How to Start YOUR Experiments with the 30 Day Habit

The key to the 30DHE is tracking.  I use a single document to track my daily habits.  This goes on the same clipboard as my projects and weekly to-do list.

What I do is list each of the habits in a column and check it off when I’ve done it that day.  I also set my iPhone to ring daily.  This helps me remember that I need to complete this tracking sheet.

Here’s a PDF version of this file —> Monthly Habit Tracking Sheet

Feel free to print this out and use it on your own.  You’ll discover this is a great way develop success habits.

What habits should you develop?  That depends on you.  My advice is to cultivate a habit that’s critical to the current skill you’re trying to develop.   This makes it easier to follow through with your goal.

If you’re stuck, then check out my post on the 42 Internet Lifestyle Habits to Develop.  These are concepts I’ve implemented in my business.  Perhaps one of them will be the genesis for the next habit you develop.

The 30DHE can have an amazing impact on your Internet productivity.  So be sure to test it out.  Try a different habit each month.  Who knows?  You might develop a powerful routine that leads to lots of online success.

Take Action. Get Results.




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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Patricia@lavenderuses

Hi Steve

Yet another motivational post for us to get inspired about and implement. No surprise then that my post for this week talks about a couple of inspirational and motivational bloggers I happen to know ;-)

I’m sure I would get more done if I implemented this. No time like the present to begin eh?!

Patricia Perth Australia

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Steve Scott

Patricia,

I already thanked you for the article on your site and just 2 minutes ago on the other comment that I am finally getting around to replying to. So I will just say Thanks! and move on.

getting to that 30 day mark can be easier said than done, but the payout is worth it. It becomes fairly easy to “continue’ the habit after that time.

And like you said…no time like the present to start. Simply add one new “habit” every 30 days in in no time you will see a lot of positive change.

-S

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Morgan

Hi Steve,

I love that tracking sheet! Very cool!

I have tried the 30 day experiment many times before and it’s usually very effective. In fact, I tried a 365 day experiment once, where I took a picture every single day for a year, and I was successful!

It sound easy enough to just take a picture everyday of whatever, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. Things happen that make me forget, I lose focus, whatever.

It’s the same concept with this 30 day experiment, it takes a lot of discipline and focus and just like starting anything new, takes a lot of guts.

Love it!

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Steve Scott

I have seen some of those “picture a day things” I once saw someone do a time-lapse video of 5 years. Very cool stuff.

But like you pointed out, even something as simple as taking a picture each and every day it is easy to “drop the ball”.

But if it happens it usually happens within the first 30 days. After that the process begins to get ingrained into people, and it becomes natural and far easier to keep it going.

No change is “easy” but it has been my experience that EVERYTHING of value comes from some degree of hard-work.

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paul wolfe

Hey Steve

I first came across this concept at Steve Pavlina’s blog (this was back in the day before he started talking about aliens, astral projection and all that weird shit he went into).

Whenever I’ve used it, I used a concept I took from Steve which I wrote about in a post called Don’t Break The Red Line – that gives you a visual representation of your progress, and as it progresses you build up momentum. (After Compound Interest, Momentum is the 2nd most powerful force in the Universe!)

You can re-train your brain to do anything – but to make it a ‘habit’, or an automatic response, neuroscientists believe you have to do an activity consecutively for 21 to 28 days. Hence the importance of ‘test driving’ something for 30 days.

Cool post – and I highly recommend people do this. It definitely works.

Paul

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Steve Scott

Paul,

Yup, I have read some of the reports on psychological and brain imprinting reasons and timelines. (I actually got my bachelors degree in psychology. Lots of the “why” people do things has interested me for a long time)

You are right the time varies, depending on the researcher, but it is all “around” 30 days. So it is just easier to call it 30.

There is science to back up the claims! ;)

on a side note…. I agree with you on momentum. It is one hell of a force. keep that stone rolling and keep the moss off it. Gotta go. Building up a head of steam powering through these replies…. ;)

Have a great weekend, Paul!

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Calli

Hi Steve,

The 30 Day Habit sounds like a 30 day challenge to me!:) I will try to develop a habit by doing it everyday in the next 30 days. Thanks for introducing the idea, I hope it works for me. :)

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Steve Scott

Calli,

It certainly is a challenge. It can sometimes be tougher to implement something everyday for 30 days than it is to keep it going for a year afterwards. But that is the secret. You only need to take it for a “test-drive” and re-evaluate after that 30 days.

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How to Write with Lesley

Steve, I have tried this in the past, usually made it to the end of the month, and then dropped the habit. I know that isn’t supposed to happen if the habit is useful.
At the moment Im working on spending an hour commenting on blogs each day before I do anything else. Then my plan is to move more activities to the ‘before anything else’ part of the day.
I love your sheet, and will definitely make use of it.

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Steve Scott

LOL,

You are right…that isn’t supposed to happen. I have a few articles and white papers saying that MOST of the time keep the good habits and integrate them into their routines most of the time.

Lets see how the hour of blog commenting goes for ya. And if you can make that a routine. (I have been slacking a little bit on “my hour” of blog commenting, so there will be no bad comments from THIS peanut gallery if you have problems bringing that one forward.

No doubt about it, that is worth the time to get your blog noticed. Few things are better than lots of intelligent commenting.

Totally off topic… but you should associate a gravatar with your lesleywrites.com website. Particularly if you are going to be commenting a lot. It seems more professional, and give you a shot of your comments being “found” if they happen to get spam binned.

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Lesley - Learn How to Write!

Thanks for the advice, I just grabbed an gravatar. I’m not going to turn blue, grow tall and start talking to trees am I?

Reply

Steve Scott

-Anything can happen! ;)

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Annie@house selling blog

Great post Steve. I’ve been doing something similar but I want to experiment longer than 30 days though. I’m trying to learn SEO and facebook marketing to improve my small offline business. I’m keeping a journal (similar to your habit tracking sheet).

The best way to make progress is through experimentation and hard work in my opinion.

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Steve Scott

Annie,

There is nothing stopping you from going further. Usually with the 30 days at that point it becomes “ingrained” and it is very easy to “keep it going” It is just easier to think of projects as a 30 day challenge then when it is up…keep doing it but also start a “new” challenge.

I have been there for the facebook and seo stuff. In fact I still am. I think I have learned a lot, but I must be a “wise” man. ( I read once that a wise man knows how much he does NOT know)

Thanks for dropping by and commenting. Hope to see you again!

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Rob Cubbon@Shared Hosting WordPress

I like the idea of time blocking 1.5 hours for writing first thing in the morning. I’m going to try that one!

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Steve Scott

Rob,

It really works well. I think you will enjoy it. It keeps your writing to to time when you are ‘sharp’ and can pretty easily become a habit. I feel ‘at a lose” now if I spend the day with my girlfriend or something and I “don’t” get that hour + in.

-S

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Fran the Online Writer

Hi Steve:

I agree with you about 30 times makes it a habit. Psychology experts say it takes twenty days to create an habit. But reinforcement of the habit is as important as making it. After you have practiced it 500 hundred times it becomes automatic habit. Then it is not easy to forget nor not to do it, if you did not do it, you will miss it and will feel incomplete.

I like you list of habit creating actions for this year. Currently I am also working on a new habit, but I do not plan my habits every month like you have done it here.

But then That is the difference that I do not have an Internet lifestyle.

Fran a

Reply

Steve Scott

Fran,

I certainly tailor mine to my internet business, but they certinaly do not have to be.

Like you said the “neurological tipping point” is somewhere between 21-28 days for something to become a habit. 30 days just brings a nice round number and makes things easier to track.

This is one of those things that anyone could and should try. regardless of whether they have an internet business. many people try sweeping changes. They try to change too many aspects at the same time, and of course they fail. with one simple change each month, you can have some pretty dramatic positive change at the end of the year, but it does not need to be “too stressful” or difficult.

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Rohan@Marketing Mix

I have a feeling of DejaVu after reading this post !

I recently cultivated a habit (more out of helplessness than motivation) while I was on a 30 day break for taking my engineering exams !

I made it a point to cover up on those aspects (other than blogging) which I usually didn’t get to do while managing my blog full time since producing the content and managing all the blogs took all my time- Forum Marketing !

I outsourced the blog’s management to a friend and decided to cultivate a habit of commenting on blogs and helping out people on forums and today that I am measuring the ROI on the 30th day, it seems to have exceeded my expectations ! The traffic has increased for good , the time on site has improved and I have to console the angry friend who is irked by the number of guest posts that are flowing in due to the additional interaction with people on niche forums!

Neither the unlucky him nor my lucky self expected to see such a response and we only hoped to keep the content fresh as far as getting one post per day is concerned but if you see my blog now , the last 15 or so posts are consistent guest posts and I have 7 more pending in the publishing queue !

So I can confirm by personal experience that the ’30 day habit’ method works wonders if you are a go getter and willing to go that extra bit to break out of the comfort zone to try and implement something new …

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Steve Scott

Rohan,

Adding in blog commenting is a killer task. I have been failing a little bit to keep mine at the level (about 1.5 hours) I like, but in the past I have seen the massive influx of comments, traffic … and yes, guest post offers.

Comments is a funny thing too, because the “newer” the site the more impact it has, as it is the best way to let other people know about your site.

(and you do not really need to be “promotional” to do it. Just leave good comments.

Like yours.

(off to visit YOUR site…)

-S

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Tho Huynh

First, thank you for your post about 30-days trial strategy in 2010. That was the first time I had heard about this concept and I was totally fallen in love with it. That why I implemented this stragey immediately to develop my blogging habit (I admit that I used to be very lazy and hesitative).

And It worked. Perfectly

Although sometimes I am very tired of my busy works at school, I always try to publish at least a new post everyday. It has become a daily habit even that I didn’t recognize.

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Steve Scott

Tho,

I a glad you took action on it and found it useful from way back when. It really is a pretty well proven strategy and a great way to introduce new habits.

Too many people try to implement sweeping habit changes all at once. (usually the new year). Making a “habit” of these monthly habit changes can go a long way towards effecting some real change.

And the best part…if you try it for the 30 days…and really do not like the change. Just stop and try another change.

Can’t beat that.

Thanks for the great comment and the backup that the system really works!

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Extreme John@CEO Business Blog

I love this 30DHE Steve. I’ve never tried doing it before but they way you presented it here is really awesome. I love the monthly habit tracking sheet too. I’ll try to get rid of my old unproductive habits and see if it’s a good riddance. See? You’re stimulating my thoughts. You’re really very helpful. I’m glad you shared this personal development strategy to success.

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Steve Scott

John,

Glad you liked it. ;)

Everyone (myself certainly included!) has many ways they can become more productive. It is just a matter of taking that action…and not going overboard and “breaking” the process.

Like the old story, “slow and steady wins the race”

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Timo Kiander

Steve,

30DHE is a very important concept when it comes to reaching your goals and improve your productivity.

There is also a web-based tool to track your habits: http://www.habitforge.com.

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Richard Chidike

I agree with the points highlighted habits in this post. Developing a healthy habit when engaged in an online business is very key to the overall success on that internet based venture.

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Brankica@Blogging for beginners

Hey Steve, I have so many habits I need to develop and I am going to stop procrastinating and do it…next week.

Kidding, starting tomorrow I will make a list of habits I want to have and start working on them. I hope I will improve my productivity so you don’t laugh at me and my baseball productivity any more :)

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Steve Scott

Brankica,

LOL, You certainly want to get it rolling…. next week. ;)

Time is the enemy of us all. It never seems that there is enough of it. a little bit more productivy will certianly mean that you can get more done, and even have more “me” time.

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Thomas Bruhl

Hi Steve, I am glad to have found your site (courtesy of Patricia from Lavenderuses recommending you in her post, thanks Patricia).
Being very honest with you, I have tried the 30 day habit thing few times already (I first heard of it in Leo Babauta’s book) but to be honest, I never stick to it. I don’t know what it is with me, I just can’t complete a month of a habit. And then again, some habits (good ones I mean!) I develop without even knowing about that. Argh!

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Steve Scott

Thomas,

Completing a habit for a month is the HARD part. after that it becomes naturally ingrained and easier. But there is no doubt that doing something each and every single day for a month is easy. Even something “simple” can be hard to remember to do…or even feel like doing on those off days.

The process can work pretty well, but I can understand having issues making it the 30 days.

Anyhow, thanks for the comment and dropping by from Patrica’s site.

(and of course thanks again to Patricia)

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Kirya

Hello Steve, I tried this method in the past, but never didn’t finish :( You inspired me to try again, I already printed .pdf (didn’t use that simple method before), and will find out appropriate android app to remind me about tracking. Right now reading your list of 42 habits… Maybe You have some tips for choosing? How many is enough? Is it better for beginner to chose just one, but crucial and complicated, or start training with few easy habits to get used to such a lifestyle?

Thanks for the articles and inspiration, will come back soon to read your thoughts!

Reply

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