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!
Way to go Ty! Three books on the topic that I found awesome:
- Change anything (I have a 5 page pdf summary of it - anyone can email me at luke
I recommend reading them in that order.
Two things I'd add to your post:
1. Daily habits should NOT be added more than one at a time, at a frequency of no more than 1 every two weeks at the MOST2. Habits build on themselves, but some work in this way better than others. The Power of Habit talks about 'keystone' habits. In the book it uses the context of business, and the specific story is about how a company that decided to only focus on safety in the workplace (even though the company was going to hell in a million different ways) had the effect of boosting morale, improving quality, improving efficiency, and many other benefits, all because emphasis on safety ended up affecting them. So when picking what habit to start with (and I'd definitely suggest doing that first one ONLY for 30 days) try to think of what might be a wise keystone habit for you. In my case, it's forcing myself to have 2 unplugged hours at the end of the day to wind down (8p-10p). That's the only goal I'm absolutely committed to. But...if I do this consistently, then I'm more likely to:- go to bed on time- get up at the same time consistently - get a good night's sleep- plan the next day...which means I'll be more likely to - meditate & review my goals for 20 minutes - write for 20 minutes - get my workout in - have food prepared instead of eating whatever's around...and lots more.
A truly complementary comment! Do you plan next day/meditate/review goals/write/workout/prepare food during the 8-10 pm unplugged time? Just emailed you for the pdf.
Thanks, Web. Just sent you the PDF. And yes, I plan all that stuff, during that time...or I don't. The point is that I don't hold myself to ANY goal other than being completely unplugged for those 2 hours. In that condition, 2 hrs of unpluggedness, I've created the ideal environment to build those other "planning for tomorrow" type habits BUT for now I don't give myself any other cognitive burden or commitment besides unplugging for 2 hrs - just like the company in the Power of Habit focused cognitive energy ONLY on safety, and that focus created the environment for the other good stuff to happen.
I disagree on number one... I find it pretty easy to add several habits at a time, especially if they're related to each other. Actually, it's sort of related to your second point-- some tasks cascade and make the next one easier, so you can add a batch of morning habits all at once.
I've also found a good sleep schedule to be the backbone of other good habits. It definitely creates a nice structure to order your other stuff around.
Your daily habit of writing is definitely improving the signal-to-noise ratio in your posts. Please don't consider it an insult on your previous writing. I guess I'm just trying to say that you bring your points across in a more and more eloquent and simple to understand manner. I'm finding a lot of personal value in your articles of late!
How do you manage your daily habits when you are traveling, and especially when you are traveling long term?
The truth. I use the GTasks app on my phone and have about 10 daily tasks that serve exactly this purpose. It is crazy scary how effective is it.
I honestly find myself looking at whenever I have any "down time" and it really helps eliminate almost all "dead time" (for you sebastian marshall fans). I quickly realize that there is, in fact, something I can go to work on.
Regarding creating new habits, I've recently ran across this: http://tinyhabits.com/ .
For those of you trying to create new, better habits in your life, it is worth a look. And maybe enroll in one of his sessions to test the method.
The one thing I consistently fail to account for when planning trips, especially shorter ones, is the disruption it will cause to my routine. For over a hundred days in a row, I wrote a blog post every day, did a Chinese lesson, worked on SETT, and a few other things for which I hold myself accountable.
I went to Peru for ten days, and although I started off strong, jamming in the blog post and Chinese lessons on my flights and bus ride to the Andes, once I started hiking I stopped doing those things. No real foul there, because breathing and walking had become difficult first priorities. When I got back to civilization, still in Peru, I resumed working hard on SETT, but I stopped doing Chinese lessons. I was practicing Spanish every day, though, so that made it okay. I wrote a monster blog post about Peru and sort of let myself coast on that. After all, it was a lot longer than my average post.
I got back to San Francisco and had only a week before I was going to Mexico. That week was great. I felt bad about being off schedule, so I used that as motivation to get back on. I rated three of those days as As and four as Bs, which is a pretty solid week. Next there are ten days completely missing from my schedule. I remember them, though. I worked on SETT every day while I was in Mexico, at a reduced capacity, as expected. I did a couple Chinese lessons, but was speaking Spanish, and fell behind on blog posts. Maybe I wrote four during those ten days.
Again, I got back and got back on schedule, but this time with less consistency. One day I gave myself an F and didn't even write any notes on the day. A few others I got Ds. There are As and Bs, too, but not as many as there should be.
After reading up on Pragmatic Thinking and Learning I decided I would implement a habit called Morning Pages. Effectively you commit to writing several pages of writing each and every morning, for me I intended to write a blog post unit each day, and decide which ones were worthy enough of sharing towards the end of the week. I was building up a healthy morning routine and figured one more habit wouldn't be too much to ask of myself.
I failed. Repeatedly. Two months in and I'd managed about five totally random mornings of writing. All of them on weekends. It kept feeling non-essential compared to my other habits and I felt like the pressure of getting to work at a reasonable hour build up as I sat down to try and write. I simply couldn't commit and I couldn't focus on writing.
So, in this sorry state I figured out a great way to introduce new habits that actually immediately worked for me. All new habits are done first. Simple as that, whenever you have a routine or when you're about to knuckle down and be productive always start with your newest habit. It's the one you have the most tenuous hold on and should be prioritised accordingly until it can become an establish part of your routine. I've been writing every morning for about a month and a half now and I've only missed one day(due to extreme tiredness). Also because it's the first thing I do when I wake, I've started to incorporate dreams into creative writing, it's been very rewarding actually. I think this habit is here to stay.