Friday, April 13, 2018

How to create a good habit easily (yay!)

Daphne helping me with my blogging


If you’ve ever had a blog, you will know that writing a blog post can be the easiest and most fun thing in the world, or the hardest, most time-consuming and procrastination-causing task you’ve ever done.

Everyone starts off with good intentions and a fair bit of excitement, but when you decide that yes, you do want to be a writer and commit to a weekly blog post (or fortnightly, or twice-weekly, whatever it is for you), sometimes it’s a hard task to even think up a topic let alone write 300-1,200 words (depending on how long you want your post to be).

Enter this fun new challenge I am doing, which can be for blogging or virtually any other habit you want to get better at.  Bad habits seem to form easily and without you even noticing, but good habits?  They are way harder to set in place – why is that?  Maybe for the same unknown reason that chocolate lures us more than broccoli (although I love broccoli a lot, but still).

The fun habit-forming challenge I am talking about is this:

The Daily Habit Tracker

I printed off a single calender page from Microsoft Excel.  This one little piece of paper is going to transform my month!  Basically you cross off the square for each day that you do the habit you want to cement into your life, and the goal is to have a string of unbroken Xs for the entire month.

I decided that to help with my blog post issues of late (whereby I leave it until the last minute and then stress myself out coming up with a post; I do believe this doesn’t compromise my quality, but I would like to approach my blogging in an easier fashion!), I would focus on writing blog posts every day for a month.

If I can write 31 blog posts in 31 days (and let’s give myself a maximum of thirty minutes to write one, so I don’t spend all day on it), that gives me a lot of banked work to be able to focus on writing my books for weeks on end instead of stopping and starting.  I do find it best to focus on one thing at a time.

This will also build momentum with my writing, and at the end of the month I can feel proud that I achieved what I set out to.  I am so excited by this ‘new’ idea that I have already started thinking what my next focus could be.

There are so many things to choose from, in all areas of your life, such as:

30 minutes a day walking
X number of sets of strength training
30 minutes a day weeding the garden
Healthy food prep once a day (for the next 24 hours)
10 minutes of yoga
A no-spend month
Declutter/tidy/organise/mend things etc for 30 minutes a day
Journal for 30 minutes a day
30 minutes a day writing your book – imagine how proud you would feel after a month, with fifteen hours work done – that’s a lot of writing!

The goal is not to break the chain of Xs as you complete your chosen action for the day, but say you missed one or two days of the month, you would still achieve a lot.  The beauty of having a calendar page to cross off is that having that page of Xs being completed would encourage you to keep on going and not let a blip ruin your intention for the month.  Whereas if you weren’t tracking on paper and missed a day you may feel tempted to give up.  Sort of like breaking your diet so you quit it altogether

This blog post is the first one I am writing in this challenge, and it’s flying out of me!  I am excited to see what else I can write about with my daily blog post, and you will be able to read them as the months go by!  I know that batching tasks isn’t a new thing, but it sure feels like it’s shiny and fresh to me right now.

Perhaps you don’t feel able to commit to a month; it feels like a big hill to climb and you don’t want to start then fail because it will only compound other things you have dropped out of in the past.  Well, what about doing ten days?  Seven days?  Two weeks?  Three weeks?

Pick a number that feels good to you and start today.  17 sounds pretty good to me – I quite like the idea of a completely random number that no-one else would choose!  Have fun with it, make it feel light not heavy, and look forward to feeling so proud at the end of it.

I suppose this idea is similar to a child’s reward chart when they get stars for brushing their teeth, reading a book, being nice to their sister…  why not a grown-up version for yourself?  You could even include a reward if you want.  For me, the reward would be completing my month of linked Xs, but we’re all different.  If you would like a coffee date out with yourself, a massage or new book at the end of your challenge please be my guest.

I’m already thinking that for my next challenge my 30 minute daily habit will be addressing a hot spot in my home each day.  Bigger, messier hot spots like my sewing room will require multiple days or even the whole month, but smaller areas like the cupboard under my bathroom sink might get done in one 30 minute burst.

Exciting!  Who’s joining me?  Let me know what you are thinking would be a fun challenge.  By the way, I wrote this post in 27 minutes :)

~~Fiona~~


PS.  I’ve just reopened my e-Course ‘Create your dream life as a successful author’ as a home-study program.  It takes quite a lot of energy and time to have live rounds so I won’t be doing another for a while, but I’ve many emails from ladies who want to join.

It’s still an excellent price for what you get, and to be fair, the home-study version isn’t all that much different from the live rounds.  You receive a new training module (both written PDF and MP3 audios) each week for six weeks, four bonuses each week for six weeks and two Q&A audio recordings each week for six weeks, plus lifetime access to the private Facebook group where you can interact and be inspired by other authors-to-be.  I am also currently available in this group to answer questions.

If you would like to find out more about this new home-study program you can take a look here:  http://bit.ly/writersuccess

And if you dream of writing a book but have no clue where to start, I warmly invite you to join my FREE writer’s encouragement club where you will receive motivation and action steps to inspire your creative mind.

I’ve had great feedback from the emails I send out and many women have told me they’ve started writing, and with joy!

Join the free writer’s encouragement club here:  http://eepurl.com/c0kN39





12 comments:

  1. What fun!! I shall do a daily blog post and "bank it" in my files (I already have a few). I joined into your 30 chic days 'challenge' in 2016, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Plus... it did definitely change my life. so, thank you Fiona.

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  2. I am enrolled in work in a wellness plan that gives me a variety of challenges to complete in a month--strength training, writing thank you notes, climbing stairs, drinking water. It's been fun, and motivating every day to check off what I did that day!

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  3. I love this idea. I am going to start with 15 min of yoga every day.

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  4. Oh, yes, please! Actually I already (sort of) do this. I have a "weekly tracker" in my journal for a multitude of daily practices I try to . . . well, practice daily. Problem is, I went completely off the rails after Christmas & haven't been able to get myself back into the game at all, to my immense frustration. Every week I manage to get a handful of the "practices" practiced, but the gaps of Things Undone are glaring. This will help me a lot! And I think I'll change it up a bit & try a monthly tracker instead of the weekly one just to see what happens. Also, it's time to review how many things I can realistically get done in a day -- I tend to over-estimate my efficiency, and under-estimate how many hours there are in a day :-)

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  5. This is a great idea--not just the calendar, but also the "hot spots," which seem more manageable to attack than a whole-house cleaning.
    Have you read "Nudge," by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein? Very interesting, about setting up situations so we do the thing that's good for us.

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    1. I've not heard of that book; I shall look it up. Thank you!

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  6. Good idea. I think I'll choose decluttering since we will be moving in the next couple of months. I would rather declutter items we don't need than move them and this will create momentum in preparing for the move. Thanks for the idea!

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  7. I've been doing this with my workouts since January, I pick a 30 day program and print a calendar and mark off my days. March was hard as I hurt my ankle a bit and had to be off for 2 weeks, so my 30 day plan has been spread way out, but I'm still determined to finish it even thought it will take a lot longer. Once it's done, because of that hiccup, I've decided my next program will be one week...just to get back into a positive mindset with it. Then back to longer ones.

    I think I'd like to add a challenge to spend 15-20 minutes in my spare bedroom/sewing/knitting room each day. It tends to be a catch all area for both me and my daughter as we are a bit short on storage spaces in our home outside our clothes closets. It's such a mess I couldn't just go in and sew something right now without having to clear a space first, so I'd like to do that. Part of my 15-20 mins might be tossing unused stuff, mending items in the pile that's getting big, shortening my husbands pants as I had promised, straightening up, reorganizing, and making covers for my machines.

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  8. Malinda B (from Colorado)April 14, 2018 at 6:50 AM

    Thank you Fiona, for the thought-provoking post! It was such a joy to read and your words resonated with my own journey as well. As I look back on habits I slowly acquired into my life, I see that I gave them each a little boost by doing a small prep-work ahead of time. What this looked like in my life was laying out my journal and writing pen (so I could write later), laying out my running clothes the night before an early morning run, setting my gardening gloves, shoes and trowel on the table by the back door and organizing my pantry and fridge with all the lovely and healthy food to be seen at one glance. Those small gestures, which took no more than a minute, were truly a game-changer.

    The idea you wrote about, putting the X's on the calendar, I also read about recently in a book. The comedian Jerry Seinfeld was asked by a comedian just starting out in the industry about his daily comedy writing. Seinfeld encouraged the young comedian to write an X on his calendar for each day he worked on a sketch and that the X's on the calendar would create a chain eventually and would be a great visual encouragement.

    Thank you again, Fiona, for sharing your journey with all us readers (from all over the world!). Your truly are a wonderful inspiration!

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    1. I read that about Seinfeld too! I think I mentioned it in my Thirty Slim Days book :)

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  9. Hmmmm, "what you are thinking would be a fun challenge" - fun is relative (smile). This was an excellent post and quite the challenge! Let me see... I have so many areas to choose from. SO many. I'll have to ponder this. I think I will do 30 minutes writing/creating on the two magazines I'm planning. This may change. That would be a FUN challenge as opposted to, say... exercise (smile)!!

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  10. This is very inspiring Fiona! I'm aiming to cross off three habits each day, 30 mins mending, 15 mins of yoga and 30 mins of writing. Bring on the calendar Xs :-)

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Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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