Task vs Time Systems

Task vs Time Systems

In the day one post I told you my habit loop for daily emails. What you may not have noticed was the routine step of “write for 30 minutes, no matter how many words that is”. This is important and is one of the keys to establishing a habit routine.

Task vs Time

Habits can often be measured or tracked based on one of these metrics. Understanding the difference is critical and can shift your mindset about “how you’re doing” with a new habit. Here’s the difference…

Task: write X words, no matter how long it takes.

Time: write for X time, no matter how many words you write.

Task habits are a measurable output so they tend to be talked about more. NaNoWriMo is roughly 1,667 words per day so that’s what people shoot for. When I started daily writing experiments in the past I was shooting for 500 words but often couldn’t meet it, so I stopped and felt like a failure.

Sound familiar?

Time habits are much better to start with because you only have to do the thing for X minutes, no matter how far you get. My habit is to write for 30 minutes, no matter if it’s 10, 100, or 1000 words. It’s not all easy though, because 10 words in 30 minutes feels like a waste of time. But that’s not the routine. Being in the chair and trying to write for 30 minutes is the routine.

See the difference?

As you are starting new habits or reviving old ones, base your success outcome on time instead of task. The longer you stick with it the better you’ll understand how much you can do in that time, i.e. words written, miles run, pages read. Then it’s easier to start a task-based habit with clarity about how long it takes you to write X words.