Recently I have cultivated a new habit that seems to be helping me with my biggest flaw: my inability to stop reading articles about last night’s awards show dresses and start my work (writing) before 8:30am. Some people have jobs, bosses, and clients, so those lucky people might not understand–but when NOBODY cares if you do your work it is tough to do your work.
My friend John and I have a similar predicament (you might call John a “man of habit”), so we now call each other on the phone every Monday and Wednesday at 8:30am and tell each other to write for at least 30 minutes. We then hang up, put some timers on, and call each other back when the time is up. We then email each other whatever we did to make sure that 30 minutes was not spent rearranging the folders on our desktops. We also sometimes talk about that writing or comment on it for about 10 minutes.
Making your friends call you and tell you to do something right that moment works like a charm! I’m pretty sure I could use this new accountability model to do anything: my laundry, finish Middlemarch, shave my legs. I realize this method is most typically applied to exercise, but I don’t need that because I positively associate exercise with NOT WORKING, so I enjoy it very much.
Why it works:
It is a very small amount of time. If we tried to do 2 hours we would always have conflicts and be able to talk ourselves out of it.
John is not my husband. By this I mean that he does not live with me and have to hear me complain about my lack of working all the time. Also, John doing this allows my husband to be my husband instead of my work supervisor.
But most importantly, I am kind of lonely and now I get to talk to John for at least 10 minutes twice a week. So I guess John is both carrot and stick.