I think of habits as being something that is fairly unconscious – something you don’t have to write down and plan for. You just do them. A bit like brushing your teeth every morning and evening. That type of thing. I came across the book Atomic Habits by James Clear recently (after listening to an episode of Henry Hyde’s excellent podcast. I’m only part way through the book so far, but it’s certainly resonating with me.
Habits not Motivation
James Clear says that if you want to get things done, motivation isn’t enough. You can aspire to write a novel, or paint a wargames army, get fit, lose weight, etc etc. But unless you have good habits you will never get there. You have to be able to do the work even when you don’t feel like it.
I certainly feel like that about writing and wargame hobbying. I am really bad at getting into a habit of writing every day. Having read the book I’ve realised it’s because I have an aspiration to write lots of books and be a “writer”, but in practical terms I’m not sitting down and doing it enough. I don’t currently have a real habit of writing on a daily basis. I’m trying to correct that at the moment by setting aside time in my daily schedule, but it’s still a bit stop start.
My Wargames Hobby Habits
My habits are now pretty ingrained when it comes to working on my wargames hobby, and in particular painting miniatures. I paint for about an hour every morning, before anyone else gets up. What helps I think is that I set-up the environment to make sure its easy to do it. I don’t have a dedicated painting area – instead using the kitchen table. What I do is bring down all my painting stuff the night before, just before going to bed. I leave my painting box and miniatures case on the table (unpacked though), and then I set it up in the morning while waiting for the kettle to boil for my tea.
As well as making it easy and having the environment right – nice and quiet, and I can listen to an audiobook or podcast at the same time. I think I’m also putting this habit next to another habit I really like – having a cup of tea in the morning. James Clear in Atomic Habits calls this habit stacking. It works really well.
Now I just have to figure out how to get the same good habit for writing everyday as well …