Using Trello To Build Habits

It takes time to build habits.

The key to achieving any goal is to build habits involving your goal into your daily life.  Today’s post is the third post in a series about how to use Trello to build a life storyboard to achieve your goals.  Parts one and two can be found here.

To achieve our goals, we need to turn them into systems.  The reason that we don’t achieve goals is that we are relying on willpower alone to meet our goals.  Instead, we need to integrate our goals into our daily habits and systems to make working on our goals part of our daily life.

Let’s go back to our Trello board.  Today we are going to start breaking down a huge goal into several smaller projects that we will then integrate into our daily systems.    Let’s say that one of your three big life moments is seeing your novel on the Amazon bestseller list.

We’re going to start at the beginning and assume that your bestseller is unwritten.  To make the goal of being on the Amazon bestseller list, there are several smaller goals that need to be accomplished first:

  1. write novel
  2. decide on a publishing platform
  3. create your digital platform to promote your novel
  4. send your novel to a traditional or self-publisher

Turn Each of These Goals Into A Project

Each of these goals is a project of itself.  Because of the nature of the project, I recommend creating a new project board for your bestselling novel project.

On my sample board, I have broken the four projects down into cards for each project.  Since you need to write your novel to have a novel to submit, we are going to tackle that project first.

I could present several ways of starting a writing project.  To make it easier, I am starting with how I started my current writing project: with a book proposal.

Even if you don’t plan on submitting your book to a traditional publisher, creating a book proposal will help you organize your thoughts and decide on a target market for your book.  The current publishing industry dictates that every writer needs to know a little about marketing as well.

Deciding on your target market will also help with the next project in your plan to write a bestselling novel:  deciding on your publishing platform.

On the sample board, you can see that a card has been added to Create a book proposal.  This card has a deadline for a month from now.

I have included several suggested next steps for a bestselling novel project.  For each step in your project, set a deadline.

With Trello, you can keep your research and information related to your project in one place.  Attach links to helpful websites or motivating images related to your project.  If you click on the card for Outline novel,  I have attached a link for Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method.

Build Habits by Engineering Systems

Now that we have broken down our huge project into a smaller project with a fixed deadline, the next step is to engineer a system into our daily routine to make sure that we are working every day on our project to create a book proposal.

Systems are sets of habits.   To build a habit, you need a trigger so that your brain knows subconsciously that it is time to perform the habit.

Take a moment to think of your daily routine.  When would it be best for you to spend time every day working on your project?  Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Try to work on your project when you are able to focus best on your project.  Of course this isn’t always possible.  Sometimes you may only be able to steal a few free moments at the beginning or end of the day.

If you are a busy Mom or Dad, the only time that you may be able to work on the project is after the kids are asleep.  If your nightly routine involves putting the kids to bed and then spending some time doing laundry and tidying the house, you may have to schedule fifteen minutes between loads of laundry to work on your book proposal.

Based on this routine, your trigger for starting on your book proposal is starting the washing machine.  Write out your daily new daily routine:

  1. put kids to bed
  2. start a load of laundry
  3. set a timer for fifteen minutes and work on book proposal
  4. clean house

By adding a step to a daily routine, you have built a system to make sure that you are working on your new habit.

Take a moment and visualize going through your routine and think of any potential obstacles.  You are tired at the end of the day.  It would be very easy to check Facebook or watch TV like you usually do.  How could you remember that you need to spend a few minutes working on your book?

You may need to leave a note to yourself on the washing machine or the TV reminding you that you need to work on your book.  You might set up a reminder on your phone that you need to work on your book.

Accept That Habits and Systems Take Time

It’s hard to build a habit.  One of my goals for this year is to journal daily.  I’ve missed three times and it’s the beginning of March.

I could get mad at myself and write this of as a failure.  Instead, I decided to look at why I missed those entries and how I could improve my system so that I don’t miss another entry.

I realized that my nightly routine is to eat, exercise, take my dog for a walk, and then check my personal email.  To remind myself that I need to journal daily, I added a new step to my routine:

Before I check my email, I will open Evernote and copy a template for a new journal entry.

The act of having Evernote open reminds me at the end of the night that I need to work on my journal entry.

Even Fifteen Minutes a Day Is Better Than Nothing

In The Sweet Spot, Dr. Christine Carter talks about what it takes to become a virtuoso.  Surprisingly, talent is only a small part of the equation.  The difference between a virtuoso and an ordinary person is consistent practice every day.

Virtuosi also don’t spend hours at a time practicing.  They know that they need rest so they practice in shorter intervals and take breaks in between practice.

By working toward your goal for a bit of time every day, you will gradually become better at what you are trying to accomplish.  Even if you are only able to write 200 words a day, at the end of a year, you will have a 73,000 word novel!

What are your big life moments?  How do you make time for them?


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