Have you ever experienced something like this? You tell yourself you’re going to start doing something—build some good habit—but then, for some reason, you just don’t. You keep saying, “I’m going to start doing that,” and you keep not doing it. After a while, you know you’re not going to do it, but you should, so maybe you start saying, “I really should start doing that.” You don’t want to LIE to yourself or others, but you still want to develop that good habit, so you keep telling yourself to do it. How can you develop that habit?
Keep score to achieve more
I think the phrase comes from Brian Tracy. Here’s the concept, and whether you agree with it or not, many people have found it works very well. You get more of what you focus on, what you keep track of, so keep score to achieve more. You simply check off or color in a box for each day that you do the thing you said you’d do. Jerry Seinfeld promotes basically the same practice, using a calendar, but with only one task. He says, “Don’t break the chain!”
It’s pretty cool, seeing a row of colored-in boxes, signifying the days you’ve done what you promised yourself you would do. When you’ve filled in a row, you get a reward. I do a chart for a month, with small boxes so they all fit, but you might want to make your chart for one week at a time. You’ll find my keep score to achieve more chart at the bottom of this post.
You get to choose the reward. Make it something you’ll look forward to, because there will be days when you don’t want to do the things on your list, and seeing those colored boxes won’t be enough. You might say to yourself, “I get a day at the spa if I get all my boxes filled in on this item. I am not missing that. Come on, body, get out of bed (or go run, or do the dishes, whatever your item is).”
I fall off the wagon and forget to do this kind of thing from time to time, but I decided October 1st that I would get back into this habit and keep score to achieve more.
Making a chart
Mine is an Excel spreadsheet. Make yours however you want, with whatever tools you want. How many items do you need? Just one, if that’s all you want to do. Have more if you want more. Don’t make too many, though, or it becomes too much to manage. You can’t keep score to achieve more if you’re overwhelmed by the number of things to check off each day.
I made a list of ten things which would improve a major aspect of my life if I did them on a daily basis. Note that these items are not parallel. Some start with verbs, some with nouns; some are sentences, some just a couple of words. It was more important for them to fit on the page with the check-off boxes than to be parallel. As long as I could remember what they meant, it was fine.
- Get up at 4:00 AM
- Brush (and floss and rinse, three times a day)
- Exercise for 10 minutes
- Insulin and testing
- 1,000 words on MY books (not counting anything done for clients)
- Matins and Vespers (prayer time morning and night)
- Check GQueues
- Time with the kids
- Inbox zero
- Bed by 10:00 PM
You can see my chart below. I fill mine in with colored pencils. I might fill in one when I’ve completed it for that day, or I might sit down and fill in several from that day at once. The colors on mine are random and mingled, and it’s pretty. You might want to do stripes or some kind of pattern, or just put an X in the box with a regular pencil. Whatever does it for you!
How is my chart going so far? Well, most of the items have been filled in for all 10 days. Exercise, write 1,000 words, and prayer time are the ones that only have a few boxes colored in. Now that all of you know about it, though, I think I’ll get better about having those three filled in, too. I know, I know: writing, of all things, should be filled in every day, right? This just goes to show you that I completely understand your struggle to write on a daily basis. I’m not talking from some ivory tower. Between 4 and 6 every morning, I need to write 1,000 words for my books and programs, not for clients. That comes after morning prayers, insulin shots, and breakfast.
Here’s my “keep score to achieve more” chart, revealing that I’m not off to such a good start, but I will get better.
I’d love to see your charts as you fill them in. Snap a picture and share on the HarshmanServices facebook page. Black out the goals if you don’t want anyone to know what they are. You’ll find my chart there, updated a time or two as the month goes on. Uh-oh, pressure. 😉
Download your own Keep score to achieve more chart here. Change the items to fit your needs.