Creative habits! Habits are a great thing to have – and we all do! Most of our actions we do each day, conscious or unconscious ones, are out of habit. From our breakfast and brushing our teeth, to what and how we eat lunch, to the evening routine. But, do you know how habits work and how you can use them to boost your creative life? Time to create a new habit!
So, this thing about habits is that they can both be good and bad. Like exercising in the morning before going to work (read more here) or having a cigarette with your morning coffee, as parts of your morning routine. Another thing about habits is that we can all change them, for the better. We just need to know what a habit really is and how it actually works.
It starts inside your head
A habit is actually a neurological pattern inside your head. A thought that you have been thinking so much that your braincells has stronger connections for this specific thought. This can be compared to how a path in a forest is created. At first, when you walking the rout for the first time (thinking this thought or executing this action) there is no path to follow. But the more you walk the same path (thinking this thought or executing this action) a path will form and it gets easier to walk it. The same thing happens in your brain, the more you perform an action or thinking a thought, the easier it will get and mental capacity to perform it will not be as demanding as the first time. Habits emerges because our brain is always looking for ways to save effort.
So, when you are replacing a bad habit, like a cigarette with the morning coffee, with a another better one, like a walk to work instead of the bus, this neurological pattern you had in your head (the cigarette) got overwritten with a new one (the walk). As we change habits, so is our brain changing.
The creative (habit) takeaway
The thing about habits is that it saves us mental energy and effort. For a creative person, like you and me, this means the less mental power we “waste” on other things that is necessary for our company to function, the more power we have to our creative work. This can be instead of (in panic) fixing our accounting in the last minute. A task that will take a tremendous amount of mental power and time because we have been pushing it forward, ignoring it because it is boring or “not my area of expertise”.
If we instead use habits to make accounting easier and less demanding, we can focus on our creative work and don’t have to have anxiety when that time for accounting comes. What I did was that I dedicated a timeslot each week where I make sure all recipes, invoices, taxes and such from the previous week was in place where it should be in my binder. That way, when I report VAT to the Swedish IRS every quarter and international payments every month, everything is in place, and the job is an easy one to extract the numbers I need.
Now days, I don’t really think about it, I have my timeslot each Monday dedicated for this. It has gone so far as a habit, when I get booked for a meeting on this time on a Monday, it creeps in me and hurts my daily flow. Because it is a habit nowadays.
This thing about habits is extremely interesting if you start to think how you can use them to benefit your life to the better. This is the first post in a couple about how you as a creative can use, create or change habits in your life. The next post will be about how a habit is actually working and how to change it!
If you want to dive in to the power of habits, I recommend you to read the book The power of Habit – Why we do what we do and how to change by Charles Duhigg.