Habit building with coffee beans

Writing is important to me. But try as I might, I always seem to let my long-term writing habit slip. So, I'm trying something new; I'm setting myself the goal of publishing 250 pieces of content by the end of 2020. I'm tracking this goal with coffee beans.

The bottle on the left contains 250 coffee beans (it looks like less but trust me, I counted). The bottle on the right contains none. Each time I publish a piece of content, I'll move a bean from 'to do' to 'done'. I'll keep doing this until 'to do' is empty.

Why not just use a checklist?

I'm interested in using visual cues to help ingrain my writing habit. The idea is stolen pretty much wholesale from James Clear's post on building habits with paper clips. The premise is that visual cues are one the best ways to encourage habit formation; if you're looking at something, it's much harder to ignore it. My previous habit tracking has been almost exclusively digital, so I'm interested to see whether a physical approach will yield better results, particularly long-term.

What counts as 'content'?

Anything online I've had a significant part in creating which is accessible via its own URL on a platform I can control. Blog posts, newsletters, and process guides count. Tweets, Instagram updates, and Boords features don't.

Only promoted content is considered 'done'. Promotion has been a weakness for me in the past. Just publishing something on my blog and leaving it at that isn't going to cut it. I have to tweet about it, tell my mailing list, etc.

Why are you publishing this?

I think making this public will keep me accountable. Social accountability (i.e. not wanting to look like a jackass) kept me going through the early days of my newsletter, when subscribers were hard to come by, and praise harder still. I'm hoping the same will be true here.

Why 250? And why coffee beans?

Coffee beans look nice and, for now, smell nice too. As for 250, I wanted a round number, and that's how many beans fit into the bottle. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

How will you be updating this?

On Twitter. Every time I publish something, I'll post the URL, together with a picture of the bottles. I'm not much of a tweeter otherwise, so I'm hoping the photographs will form a sort of project timeline.

One down

With a satisfying clatter, the first bean has made the leap. Only 249 to go.

James Chambers
Good morning. I'm James.

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