Do Something Every Day. Counter-Intuitive, But It Works.

2011 Happiness Challenge: For those of you following the 2011 Happiness Project Challenge, to make 2011 a happier year — and even if you haven’t officially signed up for the challenge — welcome! Last month’s theme was Possessions, and last week’s resolution was to Spend out. When I started my happiness project, I assumed I was the only person who had trouble spending out, and I’ve been very surprised and gratified to learn that many people struggle with this, too. Did you try that resolution? Did it boost your happiness?

This month’s theme is Creativity, and this week’s resolution is to Do something every day.

Do something every day. MP3 for Audio Podcasting

If you want to read more about this resolution, check out…
Do something every day.
Secret of Adulthood: What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.
13 tips for actually getting some writing done.

How about you? Have you found that you’re more full of ideas when you work more consistently? What are some other strategies you use to keep yourself productive and creative?

If you’re new, here’s information on the 2011 Happiness Challenge. It’s never too late to start! You’re not behind, jump in right now, sign up here. For the Challenge, each week I’ll post a video suggesting a resolution for you to consider. For more ideas for resolutions to try, check out the archives of videos here.

* If you’re trying to get more writing done, check out She Writes and Write to Done.

* Sign up for the Moment of Happiness, and every weekday morning, you’ll get a happiness quotation in your email inbox (free, of course). Sign up here or email me at gretchenrubin1 at gmail dot com.

  • http://naturalmomstalkradio.com/blog carrielee

    I totally agree. I made daily exercise a part of my happiness project. I find it is SO MUCH easier that I HAVE  to do it DAILY than if I said 3 or 5 times a week, because then I can put it off! Now it’s a daily must like brushing my teeth.

  • http://modernmrsdarcy.com Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy

    I need routine.  It took me years to figure this out–something in me didn’t want to be “tied down” to set ways of doing things.  Bah.  The rhythm to my life helps me focus on getting things done, and doing them well, instead of having to reinvent the wheel every day.  I find I’m more free to be creative if the basic architecture of my life stays the same. 

    Also, I’m a streaker (not that kind!)  If I “take a break” for the weekend, for example, I’m not as likely to get back to business on Monday morning.   

  • http://www.mind-meditations.com Rachel

    It’s funny how people are different. Forcing myself to do something every day (like exercise) would create major burnout. I feel better when I cut myself a little slack by telling myself, “You’re really tired today; it’s okay to take a day off. Don’t make yourself a slave to exercise.” I already have no choice about certain obligations like going to work every single weekday; I don’t want to make a chore out of every thing I do in my life.

    • gretchenrubin

      Aha! Fascinating! Your coment confirms my suspicion that liking to do
      something EVERY day is tied to the abstainer/moderator split. I find it
      easier to abstain altogether than to be moderate, when I’m indulging in
      anything — and I find it easier to do tasks every day.

      http://www.gretchenrubin.com/happiness_project/2011/04/quiz-are-you-a-mo
      derator-or-an-abstainer-when-trying-to-give-something-up.html

      There’s no one right way — just the way that’s right for YOU.

      _____

    • Ana

      I think you can take a “rest day” but still “do something”—i.e. decide to take a walk, or do light stretching, a slow swim, or whatever physical thing you think is fun/relaxing and easy on those tired days.

    • Ana

      I think you can take a “rest day” but still “do something”—i.e. decide to take a walk, or do light stretching, a slow swim, or whatever physical thing you think is fun/relaxing and easy on those tired days.

  • http://www.msbuddha.com/ Maya @ Ms Buddha

    I love what you are saying about doing something daily. I want to be dedicated to daily meditations! But I’ve been allowing my ego mind to convince me that something else is more important (then skip a day or two)…, even though I really want it. Funny how that works.  So thanks!!

    • gretchenrubin

      It’s astonishing to me, still, how hard it is for me to prod myself to do
      the things that I KNOW make me happier. A struggle.

      _____

  • http://www.onethousandwordsormore.com Megan

    While I write every day, I find I don’t work on my personal writing projects daily. I am going to try this and see how it affects my creativity.

    I do carry a notebook around with me so I can jot down ideas, so it will be interesting to see if I use it more while I try doing something every day.

  • Peninith1

    Yep–Anthony Trollope (more than 40 novels) set his watch on his desk at 5:00 a.m. every morning and wrote I think until 8, when he walked off to his job at the Post Office (thank him for red pillar boxes too) and finished the afternoon at his club. I try to have these routines because, as you say, the chain of creativity keeps going. But aIso I find that having an regular rhythm (I write a newsletter to freinds EVERY Sunday) also works. My friends check in to see if I am ok if I fail to ‘show up’ in their email on Sunday night or Monday morning–after 12 years, they have come to count on it!

    • gretchenrubin

      Trollope is my model! Crazy how much he accomplished.

      _____

  • http://hpshappy.blogspot.com Hpvanduuren

    Hello Gretchen Rubin,

    I usually Blog, writing Replies or Threads in Forums, write Blogposts for one (or more) of my Blogs, or write Comments on Blogposts Every Day, 

    ‘I do think that this is important for getting a sense
    of achievement and for Training the Writing Muscle, only….,’

    I wonder if you are familiar with ‘The Lazy Song’ by Bruno Mars…? I hear it on the radio frequently, (it also has a video clip with people in Monkey Suits doing a funny dance.) I do think that sometimes it can also be good to be a little Lazy. Especially when it’s hot and Sunny weather. Infact some time ago I actually bought an (e)book titled: ‘The Lazy Way to Success’ I first listened to a Free Teleseminar with an Interview with the author, because I was very sceptical about it, and first buying it would feel Counter Intuitive and wrong.

    Only after reading it it actually makes a lot of sense, and just as breathing In and Out, I do think that it’s very important to have a good ballance between Action and Relaxation especially for Creativity I do think it’s essential to have ‘Do Nothing’-time for getting Fresh New Ideas. Infact I do think that it can help with solving difficult problems, atleast it’s my experience that ideas for solving problems don’t pop up in my mind when I am doing my best to find answers, 

    ‘Ideas pop into my mind when I am totally Relaxed
    and not even thinking about it!’

    All the Best,
    To your Happy Inspiration,
    HP

     

  • bronwyn_simons

    The every day thing is so simple and so important. I recently read an article by Anne Lamott, emphasising the same thing – taking an hour every day for one’s own creativity, joy, and personal satisfaction… it inspired me to start setting aside an hour daily for  those “unimportant” yet essential pursuits that have been on hold. (non-business related writing. making 108 buddha sculptures. daydreaming in the garden.)

  • http://www.savvyhealthguide.com Kim Foster, MD

    Yes, I love this idea. This reminds me of the Andy Warhol quote:

    “Either once only or every day.”

    (did I read this in the Happiness Project, or in Tal Ben Shahar’s book Happiness? Can’t remember…I devoured them both recently)

    There are lots of things I’d love to do every day. Writing, reading, going for a walk, doing yoga, eating chocolate, going to the spa…:-)

    Sometimes it’s difficult, of course, to carve out the time. And so easy to get caught up in the minute details of the day. I find it helpful to remember to not let the “urgent” crowd out the “important”. You know, the tyranny of a ringing phone, the email inbox. These things ping and press on us, but should they force us to postpone doing the stuff that’s really meaningful and important?

    And yes, my laptop and my notebook are my internal organs that I wear on the outside. They’re my “daemons” (anyone read Philip Pullman’s Golden Compass, et al?) 

    • gretchenrubin

      I love that quotation, so you may well have read it hear.

      Ah, daemons! Love Philip Pullman, too.

      _____

  • annabarlowe

    Hmm.  There ARE certain things I need to do every day, like exercising and meditating and keeping my short journal as well. 

    For creative projects, though, I like to mix it up, and do something different every day – otherwise things get boring and I don’t want to do them at all. 

    So I blog some days, sew others, and make jewelry or do contract work another.  Keeps things lively, and my eggs out of too small a basket.  :)

  • http://www.online-business-virtual-assistant.com/ Virtual Business Assistant

    This post reminds me of things i have to be doing each day like my yoga classes, and art classes . I skip them for not having time and will give it a try to do them on regular basis.

  • Bev

    I have one of those jobs where one i will be up at 5am at work by 7am and finish at 2.30 and the next i will start at 12 and finish at 7.30pm or the following week i will on nights, yes i’m a registered nurse and i love my job but it plays havoc with any routine i may have. Even on late shift and non shift days i tend to be awake by 6am. I like to spend time with God. Yes i know it’s not everyone’s thing but its my thing, i read scripture, prayer, meditate. I shower, dress, eat breakfast and sit and read whichever non-fiction im reading at the moment for at least an hour, by then the world and the house is beinning to wake up to. At the end of the day i write my Journal and read my novel. Yes, it sounds organized but it doesnt always work out like that but i like to think im in charge or something!

  • Dsb805

    I know exactly what you’re talking about!  Working in my garden every day, sometimes for only a few minutes, has tapped into a creative side of myself that had been lying dormant.   I’ve repurposed an old wheelbarrow as an herb garden and stretched my knowledge of native plants.  

  • Christine Carter

    This seems like a good PRODUCTIVITY tip, but might not be the right direction for happiness.  Obviously, it is one thing to be hard working (even creatively hard working) and quite another to be leading a joyful and meaningful life.  Some people need more rest in order to be happier; if you are going to do something everyday, it’s best if it is an activity which ultimately brings meaning and happiness (vs. just acheivement or accomplishment).

  • http://www.ggrpg.com/en buy isk eve

    Amazing challenge! Awsome!!!

  • Mary

    I’m so busy reading how to be happy that I don’t really have time to do anything that would help.  How to I set myself aside with enough time to make, create, and doing things?

  • http://www.100drugs.com/buycheap/viagra Joshvic

    It’s funny how people are different. Forcing myself to do something
    every day (like exercise) would create major burnout. I feel better when
    I cut myself a little slack by telling myself, “You’re really tired
    today; it’s okay to take a day off. Don’t make yourself a slave to
    exercise.” I already have no choice about certain obligations like going
    to work every single weekday; I don’t want to make a chore out of every
    thing I do in my life.

  • http://www.embracingchanges.com/ Intuition in business

    Think about a time when you had a bad experience and you
    caught yourself saying afterwards, “I knew I shouldn’t have done that! I
    had a feeling, but I did it anyway!” We’ve all had experiences like that
    throughout our lives. Generally it’s something we want to ‘make happen’ or
    something we want really badly, so we ignore those inner feelings. Not listening
    to our inner voice can be detrimental to our wellbeing, and to our bottom line!
    It’s the repercussions of our inaction that I call the Cosmic 2×4.