The two-minute rule: a follow up to advice for graduate students

Someone pointed out to me this week that we all know how to be good writers, but the challenge is to actually apply these principles to our lives. I suppose writing is like anything else that people struggle with, like eating well or exercising. I recently listened to a great episode of the Entreleadership podcast (https://www.entreleadership.com/blog/podcast) where they interviewed author James Clear about his new book ‘Atomic Habits’ (https://jamesclear.com/atomic-habits). James talks about the two-minute rule, where when developing a new habitat, you have to do the desired action for two minutes per day until it becomes a part of who you are. The example he gives is of someone who wanted to lose weight. The guy drove to the gym five days per week but could only stay for five minutes. He did not get a lot of exercising in, but he became a guy who showed up every day at the gym. He developed the habit of going to the gym every day. The same can be applied to writing. If daily writing is something that you find difficult, then just open the manuscript and make one change, every day. Make one change and then close the manuscript and move on. Do that for one week. You will become someone who works on their manuscript every day. You could even start your day by opening your manuscript instead of your email. You will become someone who starts the day with the most important task – writing! Eventually you will need to do more than simply open your manuscript to publish papers, but by starting with something small (atomic, like an atom) you will build up to larger and larger outputs (molecules in the atomic analogy). Eventually, you will become someone who writes every day.

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