Writing Motivation: Don’t Break the Chain

My successful chain of daily goals…

Last week I did a post about the challenges of sticking to a writing schedule these days (“these days” = now that I have a little boy).  I’ve been trying something new to help me meet my goal of doing some writing everyday. I’d like to take credit for the idea, but it came from a blog reposted on lifehacker.com.

Basically, you set a reasonable goal that you want to accomplish each day. You choose a color to correspond to that goal, and you make a line through the calendar day if you have met the goal. For example, my goals are:

ORANGE: Exercise for at least 15 minutes

PINK: Write for at least 15 (focused) minutes

GREEN: Make good food choices 

PURPLE: Blog (prep or publish)

This is perfect for people who love planners and color-coding (me!). What makes this different from a traditional to-do list is that you have a visual record of your success at keeping your promises to yourself each day. You also create a sense of momentum. You’ve been making it for two weeks, say; no way you want to break the chain just because you are feeling lazy/tired/busy today.

So far it’s made a huge difference in getting me to put in my time–I’ve written every day for over a week, which is something I haven’t managed to do in Lord knows how long. I’m astonished at how much I can get done in 15 minutes, and when circumstances (and my motivation) cooperate, I’ve tricked myself into writing far more than I planned to.

I’m thinking that the satisfaction of doing what I know I want to do will be payoff enough, but I’ve considered instituting some kind of a reward for meeting my daily goals for two weeks straight. What kind of reward? I haven’t decided. A “free pass” to bake whatever I want? An afternoon at a bookstore? A day to sleep in late? A cheap-o massage-school rub-down? We’ll have to see about that…


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