Last week I shared two techniques I use to motivate myself and find a productive zone. Here’s one more.
The Grid—This one is great for trying to develop new habits, as in when you want to start doing something new (like writing daily) for so many minutes or hours per week but you can’t seem to get yourself to do any of it at all. I started doing it when I wanted to be more consistent about working at-home yoga into my daily routine. I got the idea from reading one of my favorite blogs, Mighty Girl (scroll down to the “Self Discipline” heading) but I adapted it for my own use.
First, I decided the ultimate, reasonable goal: I wanted to do 120 minutes of yoga per week, and I’d stopped taking classes, so I didn’t have that to motivate me any longer. I didn’t care how I broke it up; it didn’t have to be two 60-minute sessions—in fact, I was hoping to work it in something closer to daily, say, 6 days a week for 20 minutes a day.
Second, I decided the smallest increment it was reasonable to count. I decided on five minutes, because I sometimes like to spread yoga poses through a day—five minutes here, five minutes there, to break up my screen-staring time, stretch out my back, and work on holding single poses for longer periods of time instead of moving from pose to pose.
Third, I made a grid. I took some graph paper and marked it out—each line was a week, and each week had 24 squares.
And then each time I did yoga, I filled in a square for every five minutes I did, using a different color for each session, even if it was five minutes. The first week, it was pretty pitiful—only 40 minutes, only a third of my goal. But the point wasn’t to hit 120 minutes the first week, see. The point was illustrating to myself that I could make progress, even with small bits of time. My second week with the grid, sure enough, 55 minutes. The third week, 75, and so on, until I was regularly hitting 120 minutes or, at least, close to it.
I think this would be a great way to get back to a daily writing routine if you’ve strayed from it, too.