Sometimes (most times) I could really stand to get into a rut. A very specific rut, understand–the one where I do the things I need to do every day, without really noticing so I don’t have the chance to go “naw, I don’t really feel like doing that today.” I mean, three times I’ve earned a pterodactyl on 750words by doing it every day for over 200, and then…poof. I forgot. Didn’t do it. Blew it.
Imagine what I could do if I did stuff I should do every day. Log what I eat, and get my steps, every day. Wash whatever’s in the sink (usually soaking pans, and I hate pans. Why is it that most of my pans can’t go in the dishwasher?!?) Scoop the litterbox. Practice my Spanish. Update my budgeting software to keep me on the wagon spending-wise. Write something, whether it be a blog post (hello!) or working on a story. Dust or sweep one area in my room.
It looks like a lot, but all those things I just listed* could easily take less than an hour a day. One hour, to live a healthier life guilt-free in a cleaner home with a happier budget. If I just did each of these things every day, I would be in SUCH GOOD SHAPE.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. –Will Durant
So why don’t I spend one stinkin’ hour a day to make my life so much better? I don’t flippin’ know, man. I tried 7 Weeks to make habits, but even after seven months of doing something every day, I can manage to drop it. I tried Flylady routines and those worked really well for a while, but I generally expand and then overcomplicate, and then I crash and burn. Even when I don’t expand…sometimes the system breaks down because I just look at my list and go “naw…”
Part of the problem, I think, is that engagement is important to success. So I have an account on Fitbit to talk to people, and I have friends on DuoLingo, and I try to drop by the forums of YNAB, get the reminders from Flylady…and that’s the thing. Who has time for all that?
I just need this stuff to work. Without all the social stuff. I already have places I like to hang out online, thanks. And I just can’t report in on everything every day. I will forget. Or I’ll deliberately not do the thing just to not have to make one more report.
So I’ve been looking for a way to be more accountable to me, and I remember how I finished my first novel. I got a poster-calendar (It was for Star Trek Generations, if you must know, a freebie from Jack in the Box) and put it on the door of my writing room–facing out. Every time I went to the bathroom in that apartment, I walked past that poster. If I wrote two pages, I got to cross off a day. If I missed a day, I had to first do the current day’s two pages–then I could do four more to make up the missed day. If I’d missed another day, I could do six more to make that up.
I missed plenty of days. I remember July was pretty blank. But I hauled my butt back to it every time, and on December 30th, I finished my novel. But that’s one thing. I can’t have six Star Trek poster calendars around, even if I could find them. It would dilute the effort too much. Wouldn’t it?
Then I found this article last week. And I thought. It’s a lot like the way I wrote a book. It’s a way I could maintain without my phone nagging me (which is a good way for me to stop paying attention, alas.)
So I’ll try it. I’ll make a new afternoon routine. I’ll Keep It Simple, Silly. Scoop the litterbox, empty the sink, clean a thing, do my Spanish, update my budget. That will be one streak. Writing will be another. Walking and recording my food–that will be a third. I’ll create boundaries as suggested, so sometimes I can miss and not break the streak.
And if I fail? I will get back on that streak. I will tweak my routine if I think it needs it, I will change the boundaries to make success more likely, but I will keep on because doggone it, I’ve got things to do and I want to do them.
So yeah. Just printed three year calendars starting in July on timeanddate.com.
Onwards and upwards! Right after I watch Moana with my kid because I promised. So I’ll start tomorrow. Fittingly, on Independence Day.
Ooh, I gotta watch that movie again…
*except getting my steps, which would be spread through the day while I did other things. The rest other than writing I could do in half an hour, leaving me thirty minutes to write, which would be WAY more than I do consistently now…