Systems, rituals and warm-ups.

“Wax on, wax off” – Miyagi, The Karate Kid

Last week, I spoke about giving up. Today, I had a bit of a crappy day. Nothing serious, just a bunch of conjoined annoyances. After a rubbish day the last thing I really want to do is slave over a hot laptop to eke out a blog post. Fortunately, I’ve got some tools to help me get back on track.

I’ve discovered (read: learned from others) three ways of making life easier. If you read the blog title you may have an inkling what they might be. Each is a combination of simplification and mind-hacks. Here they are in reverse order:


A warm-up in this context is an activity that takes you closer to your desired goal while being far less taxing than the full task itself. A couple of examples are getting changed into a gym kit or pasting some text into a blogging site (more on that later). It’s relatively easy to change into exercise clothes. Once you’re in them, you might feel more inclined to exercise. Once I’ve pasted some text into a blank blog post the page is no longer blank and it’s a hell of a lot easier to write when the page isn’t blank. It doesn’t matter that the words on the page are going to be replaced.


A ritual is a fixed task or series of tasks that mentally prepare you for the job ahead. Unlike a warm-up they aren’t usually steps that are part of the process proper, they just help smooth the journey. My ritual for this blog is to wait until the nippers are in bed, grab a cup of tea and settle into my home office. I don’t need the tea. I don’t really need to be in my office. But following these steps each time I write a blog post helps settle me into a rhythm.


A system is a set of check-lists and flows for achieving a particular goal or change. They help take the uncertainty out of a large task by splitting it into a series of smaller, more palatable tasks. I’ve shared the system I’m developing for blogging below. Notice how the tasks start incredibly easy. In fact, they are so simple they don’t really even need to be recorded. These first few steps of the system are my warm-up; they help me ease into the harder stuff.

Your Turn

What tools do you use to help get through tricky moments and challenging tasks? Let me know in the comments.

Blogging in 23 steps

  1. Open up Blogger
  2. Click New Post
  3. Fill in working title
  4. Paste/write this (“quote goes here” – someone) at the top of the page
  5. Brain splurge – write down all the things I think I might want to say – no real effort to have stuff in the right order or in proper sentences
  6. Start writing from the start of the post at the top of the page & stick a few new-lines in to separate from the earlier splurge – at this point still going for quantity of words over quality
  7. Tidy up, removing last of splurge
  8. Fill in quote
  9. Finalise title
  10. Preview the post
  11. Add formatting
  12. Read through
  13. Edit for correctness – spelling and grammar
  14. Read through
  15. Edit for completeness – have I missed anything glaring out?
  16. Read through
  17. Edit for clarity – e.g. tweak word choices, rearrange sentences
  18. Read through
  19. Cut the darlings – remove anything I can without hurting the message
  20. Publish
  21. Share to G+
  22. Share to Buffer
  23. Update my Trello board with any new blog ideas or thoughts
   23a. Reward myself, but that’s a topic for another day