Habits Are Things You Get for Free

Yesterday, my friend Don told me that he admired my output since I began daily blogging. What he didn’t know is that if I don’t do it daily, it pretty much won’t happen at all. I write every day, because if I only write when I get in the mood, I will write never. In the first 9 months of 2021, I wrote 9 blog posts. Since October 1st, I’ve written 72, and since November 1st, I’ve written one every day.

Today I have written more than 2500 words, between two very rough draft blog posts, a newsletter, and this blog post. I have written about 25,000 words in the last 30 days, which is about half the number of words in The Great Gatsby, by writing every day. That is 25,000 more words that I would have written had I written when I felt like writing.

I publish newsletters on Monday and Friday, every week. As a result, I have sent hundreds of newsletters to my lists in the last 5 years. When I had a newsletter that I sent when I had something to say, I sent perhaps 3 in two years.

I was talking to a friend this morning as I was on the way to the gym to swim.

“I really admire your regularity. It’s impressive,” she said.

I told her that regularity was sort of my super power. Regularity can make you unstoppable. My ADHD brain thrives on structure, but has a really difficult time creating structure. Like many ADHD folks though, I thrive in structured environments, because it drastically reduces my choices, and choices are paralyzing for me.

That is why, for example, I wear the same clothes day after day. I don’t wear shirts with letters or graphics. I tend to wear earth tones, and literally I grab whatever shirt is on top of the pile.  When I wore suits for a living I did the same thing, only with blue and white shirts, red ties, and blue suits. I don’t have to worry about what I will wear, or if it matches or is appropriate. I have casual clothes and work clothes and dress clothes and there are rules for all of them, and I only own clothes that follow those rules. As a result, I bet I spend less than two hours a year thinking about clothes.

Some people exercise on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I would exercise Monday, Wednesday, and the forget and it would be Saturday and I would get mad and then forget Monday and say to hell with it.

Doing it every day means you don’t have to remember. How much time do you spend thinking about brushing your teeth? None, because it’s a habit. And as the writer and activist Corey Doctorow said, “Habits are things you get for free”.

I have a habit of exercising, whether that is a walk or a swim, every day. A habit of working in the shop after supper. A habit of reading before bed. A habit of writing. All things I get for free.

In fact, it’s the parts of my life I haven’t figured out how to create structure around that give me fits.

But I’m trying.

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