The importance of structure

For the longest time, I struggled between deciding how to best be productive. Should I rigorously confine myself to a fixed schedule, or should I give myself maximal freedom to be creative and let serendipity run its course?

Somehow, possibly with laziness as a underlying motivator, I deluded myself into thinking freedom was the way to go. I certainly didn’t want to compromise my ability to be imaginative and stumble upon wondrous new worlds by putting on blinders.

While I know it to not be entirely true, my general feeling is that I failed to get anything done for about a year after making that decision and entering the free world as an entirely autonomous being devoid of any external impositions. Certainly, I failed to accomplish anything tangibly significant.

In my misguided attempt to preserve all opportunities for creativity, I precluded myself from actually creating anything.

At some point, I decided enough was enough when an amazing mentor of mine told me “the worst thing is waking up six months from now and thinking, ‘what the hell have I been doing for the last six months?’”, and I realized that’s exactly how I felt about the past six months. I hit the road back to basics, took my time to learn what I needed to, and started imposing structure into my life to keep myself accountable.

For the past 231 days now, I’ve rigorously tracked my daily progress and imposed weekly goals, and while it’s felt like time has flown by faster than ever, my general belief is that I’ve accomplished far more of value now than I did in the year preceding my imposition of structure.

At the very least, it’s given me a great sense of control over my life. I imposed a weekly budget, and I’m amazed myself that I’ve kept true to it and have managed to reduce my spending beyond comprehension. I still don’t know how I managed to spend so much money without a budget.

This blog is another testament to the power of structure over time, and indeed the very inspiration for this post. One of my weekly goals is to post every Monday and Friday, and I know with certainty from my past failed attempts at blogging that without this structure, there’s absolutely no way I would have kept this up for so long and managed to churn out likely even a tenth of the posts I currently have up here. Hell, the only reason I’m writing this post is because I have to today :).

And strangely enough, that doesn’t hamper creativity - it encourages it. I’m reminded of Jonathan Coulton and his thing a week endeavor, where he churned out a song every week…and made a shitton of great songs.

Tynan mentions here too that the success of blogging is hinged upon consistency - not only for the sheer production of content in itself, but also for readers to remain interested and become regulars visitors:

If you’re new to it, you should know that consistency is the #1 most important thing in blogging. Once you’re established, it doesn’t matter as much. But when you’re new, people look at how much you write. If you posted once last year, once last month, and once last week, I’m less likely to subscribe. If someone is posting regularly, I’m more likely to subscribe.

The same holds true, logically, for vlogging (check this guy’s videos out twice a week - favorite YouTuber ever.) or anything else, really. Imagine TV shows if episodes were released haphazardly at capricious will. Not only would they likely never get done, but no one would likely watch the episodes.

Alright fuck this, I’ve fulfilled my blogging requirement for today. I’m out of here. Woohoo!!


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