One step at a time

By Katharine Swan On Monday, July 17, 2017 At 3:57 PM

I've been thinking a lot about how to change one's habits.  I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago about a few changes I was making to my time management plan, such as working on my novel first each day and doing financials every Monday.

So far it's working fairly well, on days that I work from home anyway.  When I have to wake up and go to a job somewhere there's no way I'll get up early enough to get anything else done beforehand, and the weekends are so busy and just plain different in how I schedule things that it doesn't work then either.

Unfortunately, that can prove a problem at times.  For instance, last week I had a very busy week where I didn't work from home during the day all that much.  As a result, Monday was my only day all week where my plan actually worked.  This week will be easier, luckily, since I'm working from home half the week instead of just one day.

My new plan has me thinking a little more about how habits are actually changed.  I've always made these grandiose posts about changing my habits, and inevitably nothing really happens.  Yet without even thinking about it, I've been changing my habits in some other areas of my life without even really thinking about it.  Why is that working, and my efforts at better time management as a freelancer never succeed?
I'm fairly sure I've hit upon an answer that makes sense.  See, I've been thinking about how I changed my lifestyle to reduce my carbon footprint.  If you'd asked me a couple years ago, I would have said I'd like to reduce my carbon footprint, but that making significant changes in one's life was just too hard.

But a year and a half ago, I moved into a place that offers recycling, so that was made much easier.  And from there I started thinking about all kinds of other ways I could contribute to the effort.  But it wasn't all at once; it was one thing at a time.  I added a compost pile to my backyard.  I started taking my plastic bags to the grocery store to recycle them too.  Then I started getting reusable bags.  I opted for windsourced electricity from my utilities company.

Years ago I switched to metal water bottles, so I started thinking about how I could reduce plastic use in other areas too.  I bought more reusable containers and stopped using ziplock bags.  I bought reusable produce bags.  I bought canning jars and started making some things for myself, such as veggie broth and mayo (yogurt is up next).  And so on and so forth.

The end result is that I now have a very different lifestyle than I had two years ago, and it hasn't all happened at once.  It has been a multitude of many little changes over the course of weeks and months.  And the result is that by the time I decide to do something new, I've already easily accommodated a new habit into my changing lifestyle.

I've realized that this is how you make changes: not with a huge leap, but with one step at a time.  I need to start thinking about my time management struggles the same way.  Instead of setting big-picture goals, I need to make small changes, and not all at once, either -- I need to give each change some time to settle in before I make a new one.

So here's how it's going so far: A month or so ago, I started making Monday my financials day.  So far so good.  A couple weeks ago I also decided to work on my novel first for an hour every day that I work from home.  So far so good there too, but since that's not a change I can work on every day, I'm going to give it a chance to become a little more established before making another change.

Stay tuned!  I'll keep everyone updated on my progress, as well as my novel's progress throughout the month.

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Katharine Swan is a full-time freelance writer with more than 5 years of professional writing experience. In addition to maintaining several personal blogs, she writes a variety of online marketing materials for clients, including company blogs, articles, and press releases. In her free time, she spends time with her horse, reads, and writes fiction.

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