Be more responsible! – some blogging ‘gurus’ say. Have no fear! –other gurus shout.
Nonsense. While those things might work, they produce very small results.
A Study That Showed The Power of Specificity
In his best-selling book “The Power of Full Engagement”, author Tony Schwarz describes a study of a group of people being asked to exercise at least once for twenty minutes during the next week. Easy, huh? Twenty minutes, one day of the week, shouldn’t be so hard. Well, it seemed to be very hard actually…based on that request only, only 29% of the people complied.
Now, here’s what they did for the second group: They also asked them to exercise for twenty minutes at least once but also told them in detail the significant role exercise have over their health in reducing various diseases. The purpose here was to give those people some motivation along with just telling them what to do (this is what blogging gurus mostly do by the way, they try to motivate you consciously to ‘exercise’ your writing skills in order write/produce more). Yet in this case, only 39% percent complied after being given the motivation speeches. Not a very big increase compared to the first set of participants (29%).
Something amazing happened for the third group, though compliance got to 91%. WHAT? How? That group was also asked to commit to exercising. The twist was, they were also asked to specify an exact time, day and location when they were going to do the exercise. For example, some might have specified that they are going to be exercising every Mon-Fri, starting at 7PM in the nearby gym.
Write More = Write Consistently = Writing Habit
What can we learn from this study? If you want to make something a habit and do that thing constantly, you specify exactly what you’ll be doing and when and where. Do you want to be writing more? Then set up an specific time and place for that. For example, write every Mon-Fri, starting at 10AM till 11AM on your laptop. Another thing that’s important is to not have any interruptions while writing. If your phone rings often, turn it off. Same for your email.
Before starting with any habit, make sure you break it down into SPECIFIC steps, steps you can read and then take action immediately. For example, when you sit down and start writing at 10AM you have to know EXACTLY what you’ll be doing (not just “I’m going to be writing). So you can say “starting at 10AM I’ll be writing on the following title: “How to Get a Better Education at Home.”
All of this might look hard at first…specify exact time, break down tasks…But let me tell you, that’s the whole point!
You see, people are generally resistant to change. We want to do what we did yesterday, or the day before yesterday. Habits take time to form and break. Let’s take the previous example. So you’ve specified a time, date for writing and know what you’ll be writing about. That’s only the beginning step. Now you need to do this continuously for several weeks in order for that thing to become a habit for you.
You might have to write 1-2+ months, every Mon-Fri, from 10AM-11PM in order for that thing to become a habit for you. Some people suggest that it takes at least 30 days to form a habit, some say it takes up to 6 months. It really depends on several factors that have to do with how resistant are you to change, how hard the new habit is and so on.
Sounds hard? Try it out and you’ll see that only the planning part is (kinda) hard. After that, after you specify everything, all you need to do is to get to that time and start doing the particular thing you want. No thinking. Just sit down and do it. It will eventually become a habit.
What Happens After You Establish a Habit?
The beautiful thing after you establish a habit, is that:
a) You’ll be doing that thing consistently. If you don’t do it, you’ll actually feel bad for not doing it. Just ask someone who’s been working out for quite a while how he feels if he misses a day or two. Most of them will tell you they’re feeling pretty bad
b) As you do that thing and establish the habit, you’ll get better and be able to do more over time. You’ll expand your capacity. If you’ve been writing every hour for 30 days and noticed you’ve been writing, on average, 500 words, you’ll probably notice you can write up to 1000 now. This has been the case with me, 2 month ago I could hardly write 500 words per day but now I can go up to 1000+.
Now, translate all this into the blogging sphere. Want to produce more content? We’ve discussed how to do it above so you now have a clear blueprint of what to do. Want to promote your blog by building more links to it? Now you know you should get specific and figure what exactly to do and when to do it (not just “I want to build links). So saying “I have this list of 60 article directories, I’ll spend Mon-Fri from 2PM till 2:30PM publishing articles to one of those directories” is a great start.
This guest post was written by the owner of Findermind.com (a website on finding people for free online), his recent article is titled 25 Free People Search Engines to Find Anyone, and describes various websites that help you locate friends/classmates online.