Every year in early January, there are a host of articles about how to make new habits stick (like in…oh…my Just a Minute newsletter for this month). I’ve been debating the merits, lately, between doing something every day vs. less often. I’m especially pondering this with running.
When people show me their time logs and claim they don’t have time to exercise, I always encourage them to try just twice during the week. Somehow, squeezing in a workout just two mornings a week seems more manageable than every day, especially if you have a normal full-time job involving a commute and looking presentable. You can get up early twice a week. It’s not a huge commitment! Add in 2 weekend workouts, and you’re hitting 4 days a week — far more than the average person, and probably enough for a health boost.
But I can see that aiming to do something every day has its merits too. When you do something every day, you don’t argue about whether or not today is the day. You just do it. It’s like brushing your teeth. And so, paradoxically, it takes less willpower. Most of us don’t stand at the sink every morning arguing with ourselves about whether we want to brush. We just do it. Especially as the weather turns cold and the days are short, and as I’m already feeling like I don’t have enough time to get my work done, it’s easy to talk myself out of running. I’ll do it tomorrow! By committing to do it every day when it’s not actively pouring or there’s a blinding snowstorm outside, I stop this argument.
So which is right? There’s the added issue that with running, if you go fewer times per week, you might go longer each time — thus getting the same amount of exercise, but with lower transaction costs (less time spent getting dressed, showering, etc.). But then again, you might not go longer, too.
Are you an every-day kind of person, or can you keep habits that you engage in less often?
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