Baby Steps

A couple of months ago, I edited a book for a client about being productive and achieving your goals if you struggle with ADHD. One of the items in the book was a list of habit tracking apps – I had a look through and was attracted by Habitica, which has an RPG theme. You can customise your avatar and gain experience points, find weird and wonderful pets, buy items with gold earned in the app, and increase your stats in various attributes. All this is done by completing different types of tasks – habits, dailies and to-dos. You build your own lists of habits and, obviously, police yourself in terms of ticking them off – but having the structure, a kind of external accountability and the dopamine hit of the app’s celebration of your achievements is very motivating.


Strangely, I haven’t really engaged much with the theme. I don’t pay attention to my experience level, I haven’t really bought any items and I don’t track my progress on quests. I have hatched, fed to maturity, tamed and now ride a giant golden panda – but then, who wouldn’t?


What I’ve really connected with on the app is the guild system, whereby you can join in with challenges set by other members and post about your experiences and successes on the chat forums. I don’t post a lot, but it’s nice to have the sense of other people out there, sharing in achieving similar goals.


One of my most recent challenges is Baby Steps, whereby you assign yourself the smallest possible step in progressing a larger project and you can tick it off the list whenever you complete it. I guess the idea is that starting is always the hardest thing – and if you can motivate yourself to do one small step on the path to a bigger achievement, the likelihood is that you will end up doing more than that, once you’ve got started.


The initial step I chose was to transfer two novel outline scenes from my physical notebook onto World Anvil, where I’m creating a digital record of plans and prep for novel number five. I promised myself (and Detail-Oriented Debbie, the organisation queen of my subconscious crew) that I would complete at least this baby step on every one of the days when I did paid editing work. And I did!


I didn’t do any more than that, so the objective of getting me back into working properly on the novel hasn’t come to fruition yet. But – I have transferred the whole outline and upgraded my challenge step to transferring a whole page of notes. Things stalled a bit again when I recently took 12 days off from paid work – but I did still complete my baby step a few times during that period, and I am committed to starting it up again properly, now that I’m back at work.


I haven’t yet figured out why I’m finding it so difficult to get stuck into working on the novel again – I’m still working on that. But, in the meantime, I’m at least making a little bit of progress, it’s back in my head a bit more now, and it’s very slowly becoming part of my regular routine again.


I’m hoping that, eventually, I’ll get myself back to spending more than five minutes on it in any given session. But even if I don’t – I’m still making progress. And, as Captain Bear (my inner mentor and captain of my mental ship) always says – all progress is good progress!


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