Writing before breakfast

Oct 9, 2014

I want to become a better writer. According to the growth mindset, I know that this is achievable through hard work and practice. I have to consistently put in the time and effort and I will slowly get better.

I knew that when I first started this blog. I set myself a schedule for publishing blog posts and have stuck to it ever since. This has worked brilliantly. But, it also has a few problems. Although I've never missed a post, I have procrastinated more than I would like. This last week in particular, my writing has suffered because of it.

How to beat procrastination

Last week, I wrote about forming the habit of doing push ups in the morning. Although I have only been doing it for 11 days, I'm very pleased with how well it has been going.

I put a reminder on my task list but I haven't needed it. Every single morning without fail, it has been the first thing in my mind after waking up. This has been pleasantly surprising. I was expecting to forget occasionally but it hasn't happened so far.

The key is the habit loop. There are three parts to the habit loop: The Cue, the Routine and the Reward. The Cue is the thing that triggers the habit. The Routine is the habit itself. The Reward is the benefit you get from doing it.

Although I hadn't exactly planned it, my recent push ups habit has all three of these essential elements.

  • Cue: Putting my feet on the ground after getting out of bed
  • Routine: Doing some push ups
  • Reward: Logging my progress on my laptop

The habit of writing early

When reading through my diary, I always seem to notice the same trend: Starting work early leads to a much more satisfying day. Usually, once I start, I find it easy to keep going. You don't get much more "early" than before breakfast so I have decided to adopt the following new habit.

  • Cue: Logging my push ups habit
  • Routine: Getting out my notebook and working for at least one full Pomodoro session (25 minutes)
  • Reward: Log progress on blog, go eat breakfast

I hope that starting as early as possible will help prevent procrastination later on in the day. Of course, there are a million things I could do differently. It might turn out to be a completely inappropriate idea. However, that's the beauty of self-experimentation. Even if it fails badly, at least I will have learned something.

Progress

Just like with my push ups post, I am going to log my progress right here. The following table shows the number of Pomodoro sessions completed before breakfast on each day.

 Week starting   Mo   Tu   We   Th   Fr   Sa   Su 
--------------- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
    2014-10-06    -    -    -    1    1    1    2 
    2014-10-13    1    1    1    1    1    1    1 
    2014-10-20    1    1    1    1    1    1    1 
    2014-10-27    1    1    1    1    1    1    2 
    2014-11-03    1    1    1    1    1    1    2

[Edit on 2014-11-10: After just over one month of continuing this habit, I have decided to stop. I'm glad I tried it out and I feel it helped me to write better posts in the time I was doing it. However, I want to try experimenting with different ways to spend my time in the morning. I'll write about them soon.]