I talk a lot about habits on here-- but there's a certain type of habit that's especially near and dear to my heart. Or a certain frequency of habit, I should say. The daily habit. I've found that whenever I want to make a change in my life, the best solution to it is implementing a daily habit.
My current lineup of daily habits is: floss, write a blog post, record a video, listen to a Chinese lesson, plan my day, play the violin. I also work on SETT every day, but I wouldn't really consider that to be a habit.
Every day really is a magic frequency. It's not just 40% more effective than five days a week-- it's one hundred percent more effective. When you do something every day, you remove a huge portion of possible excuses for not doing it. I know that when I had three-time-a-week habits, I would constantly renegotiate the schedule if I didn't feel like completing the habit on a particular day. You can't do that when you're doing it every day. You also never lose your momentum. If I don't write for a few days, my drive to write goes down. I find it harder to come up with topics, and harder to put the words together. But when I write every day, I'm alway in writer mode. I actually find it EASIER that writing once a week because every day it just comes naturally.
When you do something every day, especially something with productive output, it almost feels like cheating. Most bloggers (including me for 6 years) never have more than one post in the can, ready to go. I have over thirty now. I could die today and keep up my posting frequency for four months. A year from now I'll have almost three hundred posts stored up. That's three years of posting twice a week. Because of the momentum, my weekly writing burden feels lower than it did when I wrote once a week.
I've recently started recording videos every day. My first one was terrible, but after only a week I'm coming up with videos that are high enough quality to be posted. I believe that within a year I'll be putting up videos that rival some of my favorite video bloggers, and each one will be extremely easy and quick for me to produce. It feels like an unfair advantage.
Even Chinese, which I have only the faintest commitment to, doing one fifteen minute lesson per day, is coming in hot. I used to speak it decently, and the daily habit of listening to Chinese is scraping the rust off my old skills as well as building new ones. To really become fluent I'll have to do more than this small amount of work, but then again, 90 hours per year of Chinese study, gently tucked away in each day's schedule, will represent a significant improvement.
A big component of successful habit building is taking your mind out of it. If you have to convince yourself to sit down at the computer and write every day, that's an element of daily stress that you're introducing to your life. But if it's a daily habit and just part of what you do, which it becomes after a month or so of daily repetition, then there's no mental burden. It's effortless.
Whenever I implement a new habit, I go really hard on it for thirty days. No breaking it, no matter what. Right now I'm in that phase with videoing, so even if it's past my bedtime and I'm exhausted, I fire up the camera and talk for 5-20 minutes. But once a habit is ingrained and has become a part of me, I allow my judgement to kick in. I've been writing daily for two months now, but there were two days when I was in Alaska that I didn't write. If I was hardcore I could have squeezed it in, but I was so exhausted from riding that I gave myself a pass.
Whether we know it or not, we all have daily habits. Maybe it's writing or painting or some other sort of productive task, or maybe it's just checking Facebook. In my experience, it's worth being really aware of what you're training yourself to do every day, and using it to your advantage.
Photo is from Japan two years ago. Sorry for posting late today... didn't realize it was Thursday!