As you may have guessed from the title, my first 30 days have not gone as well as planned. Although I began this journey with every intention of starting a positive routine, I found that my habits ran headlong into the day-to-day wear and tear of a full work week, a growing reading list and an attention-hungry dog with a collar in her mouth (not to mention a list of Grog Boat chores).
The results aren’t too surprising. Having tried to keep agendas, journals, and even purchasing items like the Fitbit (a costly little piece of tech that has been gathering dust on my desk) it seems that the introduction of a new tool, no matter how expensive, pales in comparison to the daunting undertakings of habit building and scheduling.
Is this to say that my day-to-day responsibilities are so numerous that I can barely scrape together a moment alone before collapsing into bed? Not at all. Having given the matter some thought, I found that I had been going at this habit-building process all wrong.
I began with two simple daily goals: 20 minutes of strength training and 1000 written words. Giving myself a generous 2 hours to meet my writing goal (an easy 8.3 words every minute) and tacking on my workout, I would only need to spare a maximum of 2 hours and 20 minutes. Is that really so hard? It sure was the way I was going about it. And no matter how appealing Habitica might be, it’s no miracle machine, especially if I was using it wrong.
During my last 30 days, I watched an old ASAP science video that reminded me of a few simple points in motivation. For your convenience, you can click here to view it.
So what will I do for the next 30 days in order to correct this? Firstly, I will lower my word count from 1000 words to 100 words and lower my exercise time from 20 minutes to 5 minutes. That’s a pretty drastic decline, but hear me out. My initial numbers were a reflection of where I wanted to end up ultimately, but expecting to accelerate my progress that much that quickly without suffering from burnout is asinine. Am I honestly expecting myself to go from about 15% to 100% of my expectations overnight? As the video I linked shows, one of the hardest things to do is to begin a task. Once begun, we are naturally inclined to see it through to the end.
With that lesson in mind, I created an astonishingly easy set of goals as my daily minimum requirement and set my loftier expectations as extra points that would not affect me if I did not reach them. That way, at bare minimum, I will still be working out and deliberately writing at least a little each day, rather than having a series of off days punctuated by days of high productivity. As I progress, I will scale up my goals appropriately until I have reached a healthy peak routine.
The ASAP Science video mentioned, setting up a nightly to-do list for the next day is important. Why not use the task list Habitica has built in? I can keep a separate, physical sheet to track my time allocation and check in at the end of each day on the Habitica website to create my next day’s tasks.
Having re-evaluated how I use Habitica, as well as how I approach productivity, I am ready for another month-long stretch. Wish me luck with the rough seas ahead.