The Importance of Creating Something Every Day

Daily Habits for Teachers

It’s no secret we live in a consumption driven culture. Millennials spend 18 hours a day consuming media (much of this is done while multi-tasking so the number of actual daily hours is lower) and the other generations are not far behind.

Yet, much of the content millennials consume, is actually created by their peers. From instagram posts, to tweets, to text messages, videos, and what’s app conversations…the content is usually short and fleeting.

It’s no wonder so many students say they are bored in school, when they are often told to consume instead of create.

I don’t think this is limited to students and their boredom. I personally can get into a rut when I find myself consistently consuming. Whether it is reading, social media, or binge-watching Netflix…these activities are great to unwind and relax, but can cause a creative downward spiral when you spend too much time consuming.

This is where habits become increasingly important. Without daily habits we can easily get stuck into creative ruts and spend all of our time consuming (usually without even thinking about it).

Stacking Habits Instead of Resolutions

Two years ago I took an idea from Nathan Barry, and ran with it. I started to write 1000 words every day. I had goals and dreams and things I wanted to accomplish. I wanted to start a blog that people would read and also get a lot of value from. I wanted to write a book. The habit of writing 1000 words each day made things goals attainable and I didn’t spend all my time worrying about what I could accomplish…but instead on when I would finish. That year I grew this blog, wrote a lot of guest posts, and wrote my first book Inquiry and Innovation in the Classroom. It was not that difficult when you stacked the 1000 words on top of each other every day. I wrote almost 400,000 words that year.

Last year I continued the daily writing habit and also began to read 25 pages a day after hearing about this strategy from James Clear. Most of the books I read were close to 250 pages long. I averaged reading 1 book every 10 days with this habit. And of course, sometimes you can’t put a book down and the 25 pages turns into 40! This past year I’ve read 42 books with that daily habit.

Now a new year has rolled around again, and I want to create more. The problem I’ve been having is writing and creating…and not finishing. It seems like the first 50% of a project is fun and goes fast…the second 40% of a project is a grind but the end is in sight…and the final 10% of any creative project is almost impossible for me to finish and ship.

What is with that final 10% that makes it so hard to finish?

The Creative Struggle is Real

Part of me believes the issue is not having enough practice finishing. Sure, I tend to finish and post two blogs a week. I’ve finished big projects like books, and websites, and courses… Yet, for every creative project I finish, there are 10 more lying around half-way done and sitting in purgatory.

This leads me to the habit I want to begin this year: Creating (and finishing) something every day. 

To be clear, this won’t always be a piece of writing. It won’t always be work related. It could be a project at my house, or something I’m creating with my kids. And it will definitely not always be education related. The key is to focus on finishing each and every day in small projects so that finishing becomes a habit and act that I consistently do on a daily basis.

I have new goals for 2015, but I don’t think those goals are nearly as important as this daily habit. In fact, they are connected in many ways. I won’t be able to reach my goals unless this act of creating and finishing becomes a habit.

Creating is something that makes me feel alive. Yet, without finishing…you can’t help anyone with what you’ve created.

I want to challenge you to do less consuming this year and more creating.

Happy New Year, and I’d love to hear what habit you are planning on starting for 2015 (instead of a resolution or goal)!

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Join the discussion 10 Comments

  • Michelle Howell-Martin says:

    Hi, A.J.!

    This post really hits home for me personally and professionally. As I am getting ready to deliver some professional development on using iPads to create, may I reference this post? I will be certain to send you what I create.

    Thanks!

    • AJ Juliani says:

      Thanks Michelle! It is good to know other people are having the same struggles 🙂 – Yes, of course you can use the post in any way you see fit. Let me know how it goes!

  • Jo Prestia says:

    That does it! I have 10% of my book to complete AND I intend on finishing it before another year escapes me! Thanks for the article A.J. It really hit home!

  • Hi AJ,
    This completely resonates with me. Excitement is breathed onto my students when they get to create something. Whether it is writing a story, making a poster, tweeting, or putting together a skit, the air is charged. I had made a “resolution” to “make something new” each month, but your point about daily actions that form habits was an AHA moment for me. I would love to continue to hear what you are habitually creating, both personally, and with your students.
    Happy Habit Forming!

    Natalie

    • AJ Juliani says:

      I think habits can be used for teachers and students (all of us really). But the habit of creating (and finishing) is something that consistently needs to be focused on when we live in such a consumption culture. Thanks for sharing!

  • Patricia Friedman says:

    Thank you for posting this–I agree that we need to encourage students to see themselves as authors, painters, designers. Putting work together helps them pull it apart later on when they are back in the ‘consuming’ mode.

  • Christy post says:

    This post is exactly what I needed. I am at the beginning of my own professional growth journey. I just started a blog and my goal is to stick with it and make it what I dream it can be. It is something I have wanted to do for a long time and I finally took the leap. This post makes me even more motivated. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Katie Dwyer says:

    This post is a great inspiration. 1000 words a day! WOW! Thanks for the reminder to create first and with intention. I hope your 2015 has launched well!

    Katie

  • […] reading a post concerning the newest book by George Couros and AJ Julian’s post on making something new each day, I took the plunge and will hopefully be reflecting once a week to share some wonderings that I […]

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