From now on I’ve committed to writing at least 10 minutes a day. The subject doesn’t matter. The purpose doesn’t matter. The idea is just to write and if it turns out being useful for my blog or some other purpose so be it.
It’s difficult to adopt productive habits. Our positive self-bias lures us into setting goals that are just too ambitious to follow through on. You might be surprised just how easy it is to get too ambitious with your ‘tiny’ goals in life.
Last year while I was attending B.J. Fogg’s mobile health conference, we had a group discussion about his tiny habits program. The guy sitting next to me told me about how he had set a goal to drink a glass of water immediatly after he woke up each morning. He did it one day and after that he found it to be incredibly hard to follow through on. Do you believe that? Setting a goal to drink a glass of water when you wake is actually pretty difficult make a habit of. As a result the fellow revised his goal to take two sips of water every morning upon waking.
If you make your goal challenging, as easy as it might seem, you will grow tired of it too quickly as it’s not part of your routine. B.J. found that a lot of people set a goal to do 10 pushups every morning. He urged them to reduce the goal to simply 1 or 2 pushups every morning.
If you wake up and it seems like no problem (low effort), you’ll do it. If you wake up with a challenging goal you might do it once or twice (motivation is high at first). But after that you’ll just simply not feel like it. Goals for habits need to feel effortless so that you won’t succumb to laziness (low motivation).
That’s why I’m setting a goal to write for 10 minutes. If I set a goal to write a blog post every day it won’t happen. It sounds easy but it’s not. I have to think about what I’m going to write about, I have to re-read it, edit it, revise it, post it, read it again on the blog, find more problems, edit, revise, post, edit, revise, post. A simple blog post can end up taking an hour or two out of my day. And as a result I write less often. There’s too much effort required that the mental overhead of knowing what’s involved simply prevents me from getting started at all.
That’s a bad habit. If I simply write with no end goal in mind I’ll grow a catalog of ideas and improve my writing. This blog and the rest of my writing will hopefully improve as a result of writing habittually briefly each day. Looking at it this way, writing can become another form of productive procrastination.