Discipline,  Motivation

Creating Habit Hop-Ons

Recently I pulled a muscle in my knee that was serious enough that I required physical therapy for a few weeks. At the first visit, my therapist gave me a list of stretching exercises that would help my knee, thigh, and other leg muscles get stronger. I was to do them twice a day, every day, indefinitely. 

It is not fun to be given a new list of things to do, but I really wanted my knee to feel better. I had no choice. I had to find a way to incorporate these exercises into my daily routine so that I wouldn’t leave them to the end of the day. 

This is what I did: each morning in my kids’ homeschool, I reviewed my children out of the same catechism book. Daily, I ask them the same questions, over and over. It takes about ten minutes for us to get through every bit of it. I placed the stretch instructions in the catechism book and set an alarm on my phone to remind me. Then, when that daily task arrived, I attended to my exercises while my kids answered the questions. 

This worked! Now, to be honest, I rarely did the exercises twice a day, but I figured at least I did do them once. The one time I did them was good enough for improvement in my knee.

What does that mean for you?

I’d like to suggest that if you are looking for ways to add more 10-minute increments of writing into your life, look for daily events that this new habit can be attached to.

Let’s call them the habit “hop-ons”.

How to do this?

1. Think about your day. What events are the same from day to day? Your commute? Your lunch break? Your downtime while you wait on your kid at practice? Set alarms on your phone during those times to write for 10 minutes. 

2. What do you need? Carry with you some way to get thoughts down. Recording on your phone, a writing app, or even old-school pen and paper will do. 

3. What are you writing about? If you’ve got a work-in-progress, carry it (or a portion of it) with you. 

4. Reward yourself! Make some arrangement for a treat if you can maintain this habit for a week, two weeks, a month, and even longer. 

In the book, Atomic Habits, author James Clear said, “People who make a specific plan for when and where they will perform a new habit are more likely to follow through. . . .  Rather than pairing your new habit with a particular time and location, you pair it with a current habit. ” (P. 70)

This worked for me and my knee. It can work for you and your writing goals. 

Have a plan for how you can create your “habit hop-on”? Leave me a comment below.

Katharine Grubb is an author, poet, homeschooling mother, camping enthusiast, bread-baker, and believer in working in small increments of time. She leads 10 Minute Novelists, an international Facebook group of time-crunched writers. She lives with her family in Massachusetts.