Friday, September 02, 2011

Arbitrary Rules

Arbitrary rules can be powerful. They help overcome Inertia.

Seth Godin writes a blog post every day. That is an arbitrary rule. Does it really matter if he misses a day? Probably not, but it forces him to write every day. Eventually it becomes a habit... so it doesn't feel like force.

I am writing far less regularly than I would like. I realised this. I also realised that I had still written at least one blog post a month for quite some time. Hardly enough to form a habit, so fair to say that it doesn't compare to Seth's rule - and so is more arbitrary. But it was enough to force me to write one yesterday.

I used to use arbitrary rules to help me get through my studies. If a subject took 300 hours, I would break it down into the hours necessary per week and then plan how many to do each week. I would try stick to that. Again, maybe that is not arbitrary as it let me get to the end without any panic. The arbitrary part was that I would break it down into segments - study for 50 minutes, 10 minute break, repeat.

Why 50, why 10? No particular reason. It just seemed to help me get through.

Now, if the arbitrary rule gets in the way of something that is not arbitrary. That can be a problem. But otherwise, if it helps you get off the couch...


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