As I’ve sought to build my writing routine these past couple of years, a key theme has surfaced. The times I am most productive are when I am focused. And being focused relies on my ability to give certain things up.
I love good quotations. Here’s one of the best from Steve Jobs.
“Focus means saying no.”
This week, I’ve reflected on the things I’ve had to say no to in order to build my writing habit. What surprises me is that it’s been the same things over and over again. I’d love to say that I’ve only had to say no to things once, and that then the behavior continues forever, but the reality is that my old habits usually creep back. Then I have to say no to them all over again in order to resume my writing.
Here are some things I’ve had to say no to repeatedly:
- Staying up late to watch shows
- Downloading games to my iPhone
- Sleeping in
- Exploring new hobbies
- Taking multiple days off from writing
- Neglecting exercise
This isn’t meant to be a list for anyone else; it’s just for me. These are things that have significant power to distract me. When I download a new game or stay up late to watch a show, I know it will negatively impact my writing. It’s happened so many times that I know how things will pan out.
I’m certainly not bashing on taking a break from working on our goals, but I also think that we need to be very smart about our habits. During the last two weeks, I’ve made poor choices about my activities. The consequence is that my writing progress withered.
So this next week, I’ll be refocusing on choosing the activities that I know reinforce my writing. I know that I’m happier when I keep my habits in place, so it should be a good week.