I have a problem with routine.
There – I’ve said it.
May be it’s because as a third culture kid, change was such a constant in my life, that I’ve come to see any kind of same-ness as stagnation.
Just like a teenager, whose worst enemy is boredom, I crave new-ness.
In fact, the first time that I crossed the two year mark of living in the same apartment (somewhere in my mid twenties), I literally couldn’t stand it. I couldn’t the sameness, although I LOVED my apartment.
It was 5 minutes from work, on the 7th floor overlooking the Gulf, with a great little terrace to watch the sunset from.
Moving was insane and totally out of the question.
So what did I do?
I moved the furniture around in the living room.
Well, there really wasn’t much to re-arrange, as I was in the futon and throw pillows stage of my life, when money is scarce, ideas are plentiful and everything is kind of fluid.
The problem with disliking routine is that consistent routine is literally the middle name of success, and especially so when it comes to running an online business.
Consistency is the one habit that has the most impact online. Think about it:
You need to consistently produce content.
You need to consistently be present in social media.
You need to consistently nurture the leads in your network.
Every. Single. Day.
And I have proof that consistency it is at the heart of success.
The most traffic I ever generated for my blog(s) was when I was partaking in some kind of daily blogging challenge – and actually meeting the challenge.
John Lee Dumas has a daily podcast, and is easily the most successful podcast in its genre, if not overall.
Dean Wesley Smith writes every day and has been doing so for four decades, publishing over 200 novels, putting out a monthly 80,000-word magazine, and writing a post on his Writing In Public blog every single day.
See, it’s all about consistency.
So how do you develop the habit of consistency when every fibre of your body can’t stand the idea of routine?
Let me share what helps me when it comes to being consistent at producing content, whether for my blogs or client work.
Change The Environment
This is a take on the old rearrange furniture trick.
Somedays I write at my desk in the home office, other days I do so using the dining room table, and yet others I hang out in the kitchen.
If you’re feeling even more adventurous, charge up your laptop and take yourself to your local, trendy coffee house. You will find lots ot other cool people plugged into their headphones and laptops while sipping designer lattes.
Change The Device
While writing on my Macbook Pro is obviously the fastest way of getting words down, sometimes I’ll walk and type on my iPhone instead, especially when it’s warm out and the park is hard to resist.
Other days I’ll use my Mac’s built-in voice-to-text function to dictate the first draft of whatever I’m working on.
On days when I might not be feeling particularly well, I might stay snuggled up under my duvet, and tap it out on my tablet.
Change The Writing Tool
I’m drafting this post on Blogo, a new blogging tool for the Mac. Why? Because it’s new. I know, how pathetic, right? What can I say, I’m a newness addict …
If you usually write in Word, use Notes/Notepad, or Evernote.
Find an online tool like Gingko that lets you structure and write at the same time.
Fire up Scrivener, even if it is not a book you’re writing.
Change The Preferences
This is one of my favourite hacks. When writing in Scrivener, I choose Composition Mode – which hides everything except your writing. I then pick a new background.
My current favourite is a deserted beach.
Correction: my current favourite is another deserted beach.
There’s something about white sand, gently lapping waves and palm trees that brings out the writer in me.
No Scrivener? Resize your writing window so you can see your desktop, and choose an inspiring image as your desktop background.
Sometimes I will also change the default font from boring Arial to something else, just to make it feel different.
Change The Order
When creating content, I tend to start with an idea, quick research, outline, draft, image, edit, then publish.
Sometimes I’ll start with an image and find an idea that matches instead.
Or I’ll write the conclusion first, then do the middle part, and finally end with the intro. Actually, this is what I tend to do most of the time.
The point is to change up the order in which you do the steps to keep it fun and interesting.
And Finally …
If you’re still having trouble sticking to the writing routine, perhaps it’s time to revisit why you’re writing in the first place. Perhaps your trouble is not consistency, but making the why stick. But that’s a whole different post.
So, what do you do to make a routine less routine-y?