Understanding Your Habits

Those readers who follow and read my blog on a regular basis might have noticed that I don’t post quite as regularly as I did in the very beginning. There are a few reasons for this, most of which are rationalizations for the primary reason. I could say that I prefer this or it would be better if I did that, but the honest truth is that the biggest reason for my reduction in writing is that I am one of those people for whom being in the habit of doing things a certain way makes me consistent.

Like just about everyone else who writes a blog, I have a day job. It it quite unfulfilling and leaves me with a lot of spare time because they simply don’t have enough work to keep me busy most days. I sit at my desk idly passing the time and waiting for the day to be over so I can go home and actually find something interesting to do. You might wonder why I don’t try to find ways to make myself useful, and I used to have that desire, but after four years of my talents being wasted I’m not particularly eager to put any extra effort in. I could leave, but the job ends soon and the pay is pretty good, so I do what they ask and cash my check.

The reason this is important is because my daily writing schedule is integrally meshed with my work schedule. For me to maintain any level of consistent work, I have to have a daily habit that works in all the various things I need to get done. This includes writing for my blog. Over the last few months, it has become a habit for me to come into work, complete whatever menial work related tasks I have on my plate, and then switch over to my writing platform to put words down to digital paper. It makes it much easier to remember and actually be motivated to do something when I have a plan to follow.

All that said, I used to have a goal of publishing one article every day, which included weekends. The problem with this is that because my weekend days are vastly different from my work days, I never remember to check up on the blog or sit down to write something. It’s almost muscle memory on weekdays, but for my days off it just doesn’t pop into my mind. I started noticing that I would get most of the way through Sunday before it even occurred to me that I hadn’t written anything for the weekend.

My initial solution to this was to write extra posts during the week to cover the extra days, but I began to notice it made me feel unmotivated to write when I had to cram in extra posts to cover my days off. Writing suffers when it’s forced, and while I would love to be able to produce quality work to cover every day of the year, I understand myself enough to realize that I have to be in my groove for anything I write to be worth reading. Otherwise it’s just a bunch of words on paper that even I wouldn’t be interested in spending any time with.

In the end, I decided that the best option for me would be to simply pare my writing down to five articles per week; one for each working day. Doing it this way means that I am unlikely to succumb to the desire to skip over work I told myself I would do because I have a daily routine which is easier to follow than some esoteric schedule I came up with. I come into work, get my tasks complete, and then write an article. That makes it much easier to stick to for me.

The point of all this isn’t really a news update on my publishing schedule, but to illustrate how most of us need to manage our expectations about our own ability to get things done. We all have habits, some of which help us get things done and others that make it much more difficult to accomplish anything at all. If we can learn to understand and accept the habits that we have formed, we can make far more effective use of our time and energy. Working against our own flows just makes the things we need to get done all the more difficult. By accepting that I can’t be consistent with a post every single day, I have reduced the stress associated with getting articles published and I feel that I am more consistent with my writing. It’s all about knowing yourself.

What do you think about living with habits? Which are helpful and which make your life harder? What compromises have you been forced to make to accommodate your particular habits? There are few things worse than fighting with yourself, and if you can learn to go with your own flow, you might find that you get a lot more done at a higher level of quality. Never be afraid to be who you are.

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