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Twenty minutes.

That what I just set the timer for, in an effort to keep my daily writing chain going. I got the idea of the writing chain from Dan Pink’s latest book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. He was referring to a strategy that Jerry Seinfeld uses to build the daily habit of writing new material. His goal was to string together as many days in a row as he could, marking each day with an X where he accomplished the goal. That way, when the inevitable “I just don’t feel like it,” or “I’m too busy” voices creep up, there’s something to keep the habit going.

So, I’m committing to writing for 20 minutes a day over the next 30 days. Even on the weekends. I got away from writing blog posts when I was writing The Modern Seller, and I realize how much I miss this short-form style.

Here’s what I’ve learned thus far:

  • This concept can apply to anything you want to build a habit around. Healthy eating. Reading. Practicing a skill. Business development. Thinking. Rejection. Check out this TED Talk from Jia Jiang on how he made it a goal to string together 100 days of rejection.
  • Getting to 20 minutes often encourages me to do more. It’s in the getting started where I get stuck. But 20 minutes is both short enough and long enough to get some momentum. There are times when I stop at 20 because it’s a packed day. And there are times where I’ll continue for an hour or more. Where I know I’ll be tested is on the weekends, especially if we’re out of town, to see if I can keep it going.
  • I’ve been looking forward to the 20 minutes most days. When I was writing the book, it was all I could think about creatively. I felt like every ounce of creativity was being invested in the book. Which it hard to do, because there’s also a business to run! I had to find ways to eek out creativity for client deliverables, the new website launch, and the daily grind of being an entrepreneur. Looking back, I didn’t fully appreciate all that I was trying to do. Now that the book is in the hand of the printer, my mind is so much freer to create new ideas.
  • Being time bound keeps me from procrastinating (mostly). I try to have one day per week where I have nothing on the schedule. I love seeing those days on my calendar. But the shadow side is that I trick myself into thinking I have so much time. Sometimes those open days become wasted, and I didn’t get anything significant accomplished. The time-bound nature of the 20 minutes helps me to stay focused. There’s a beginning and an end, and my mind snaps into gear.

The timer just went off as I’m wrapping this up. If you try this for any habit you’re wanting to build, see how long you can keep the chain going and what results you get from a Daily 20.

Amy Franko is a sales leader turned entrepreneur, sales keynote speaker, and author. She’s passionate about two things professionally: sales and leadership. She works with insurance organizations and professional services firms to improve sales results and build future sales leaders. Learn more about Amy’s upcoming book, The Modern Seller, and download a free chapter.

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