Picture this: Things are going great in your efforts to become a mindful, productive person. You’ve eliminated your bad habits, your mind is clearer than ever, and you actually want to stay on top of your new habits.
Not only are you writing every day for at least the minimum time requirement you’ve given yourself, but you’re also reading books on craft and participating in forums on writing. You’re networking with other bloggers, keeping up with their new posts and commenting regularly.
You read all the discussions, you catch up on everyone’s blogs. You comment when you have something to say or ask. You hover over your virtual hangouts waiting for responses.
You get into arguments, you hope that your latest post will get a ton of upvotes or reputation points or whatever system your chosen community uses.
The dishes pile up. The house is a warzone.
Wait, what? You’ve spent so much of your time and energy focusing on all of your productive activities that you’ve let them take over your life.
This is not uncommon, and it’s especially common with discussion boards which can be endlessly useful, but mostly just endless. It’s a rabbit hole that seems tame and justified at first, but proves dangerous in the long run.
When this happens, what can you do? Well, this is where you need to start prioritizing your activities. Where are you going to get the most benefit? What are the most important things in your daily life?
For me, school is number one. Writing comes second. But within the category of writing, there are a number of other activities: The actual writing itself, researching, networking, blogging, platform maintenance, etc.
With a list like that, it’s obvious that the number one priority should be the writing. This is the action that leads, ultimately, to success. Everything else is necessary, but it is important to recognize when it is getting in the way of success.
This is essentially the Pareto Principle—or the 80-20 rule—which states that eighty percent of your success will come from twenty percent of your efforts. If you’re spending an hour writing and three hours browsing forums and other blogs, then you’re not getting as much value as you could out of your time.
It is just as important that we recognize when we’re giving our time-wasting activities too much power over our lives as it is with our more productive activities. If your writing life is thriving at the expense of your health and well-being, you may need to step back and prioritize again. Take care of yourself first, do what you have to do to keep your grades up or keep your job, and recognize that all the little things that go along with writing can always wait.
I’m leaving this post short because there’s not much I can add that hasn’t already been said before. Plus, it’s important, and I’d rather not scare you away with a wordy lecture on how to overcome this problem-that-doesn’t-look-like-a-problem-but-actually-is-when-you-stop-and-think-about-it.
Basically, if you get to this point, you might find yourself drifting back to old habits, and it might be time to add new habits to your life, or just get yourself back to zero before it’s too late.
And as we move into the May part of Maypril, keep in mind that your new habits might need to be checked as often as your bad habits.