“Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.”
– Dwayne Johnson, a.k.a. “The Rock,” American actor.
To some people, doing the same thing day in, day out is the epitome of boredom. It allows no room for spontaneity, and on the face of it, may hinder the growth necessary for you and your organization to thrive.
I would disagree to some degree — routine gives comfort. Without consistency, you might never get to work at a predictable hour, maintain exercise routines, or complete all your work in a reasonable amount of time. There’s a big difference between rote, robotic, mindless activity and mindful consistency — productivity using repetition and consistent processes, overseen by thoughtful consideration. At the same time, mindful consistency also understands that “best practices” must change as the world does. If approached sensibly, being consistent can help you save time and guard against decision fatigue. It’s more conservation of thought than abandonment of it — and it helps you make sure you do the work required when you need to do it.
If you’re beginning to wonder why you bother to put in those same hours the same way every day, consider these four ways that mindful consistency ensures productivity, and can even help you boost it.
It makes your goals achievable. As the saying goes, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. If you know the minimum amount of work required daily to achieve a particular goal or conquer a project, and you consistently contribute a bit more than that much each day, you’ll eventually meet or exceed your goal. As long as do so consistently, you’ll compound your achievements and boost productivity over time — the same way compound interest increases the value of your savings.
It creates momentum by establishing the power of routine. Just because you do something the same way at the same time every day doesn’t make it bad, unless you fail to change when change is warranted. That’s how routines work: If you always wear a gray suit, you never have to decide what to wear. Routines contribute to productive habits. As long as you occasionally review them to make sure they still work, you can use them to push you onward and guide your days.
It ingrains your habits into your personality. Once you’ve gotten into good, productive habits, it’s easy to continue doing those things without wasting time deciding what to do next. Integrate those habits into who you are at work, so they become important to the point where you don’t easily blow them off or just forget them in the fog of daily business. Since you aren’t a machine with invariable programming, if something about your work situation changes — through promotion, reorganization, emphasis on new goals, whatever — you have the mental flexibility to modify those habits to fit your new situation.
It amplifies skills through practice. Practice really does makes perfect — if you learn as you go. Consistency in your daily work hones the skills required to do your tasks. After a certain number of repetitions, what you once had to consciously think about becomes second nature. Work that took you an hour may take half that after months or years of consistent practice. Once you’ve reached an expert level at something, you can use the time you’ve saved to either do more of that task, or work on honing another high-value task. Perhaps as importantly, amplifying your skills via consistent daily practice opens you up to new aspects of those skills you can then explore. In gaming terms, you “level up” — becoming more competent, more confident, and harder for negative situations to defeat.
Consistent, mindful change
There’s a vast difference between mindless and mindful consistency. If you find the “same old, same old” constricting, that doesn’t mean you can’t change things up a little. Reexamine your routines and polish them. Do interesting things during your breaks that recharge you better. Try new work techniques occasionally to see if they’ll improve your productivity. Your primary goal is to consistently accomplish your most important tasks; improving your efficiency is a wonderful bonus. If you can remain engaged without overwhelming yourself with too much work, and keep chipping away at your projects, it’s easier to like your work and consistently improve your productivity so you can complete tasks faster and under budget.
This was originally published on Laura Stack’s The Productivity Pro blog.