5 Reasons Consistency Beats Quality
By: Shane Bender
Is it better to exercise for 10 minutes every day or 30 minutes a day 3 times a week?
Is it better to have an hour to read a chapter in a book or read a little bit when you have a chance?
If you have a project to do, is it better to do a little each day or in large chunks of time?
These are questions I have been thinking about as I read The Slight Edge. There is a battle between doing something a little at a time versus taking the time to focus in larger time chunks. As a general rule, focused attention in larger time periods is preferable. But we live in the real world of distractions and chaos at work and at home. With our smartphones and busy schedules, it can be hard to set aside a 2-hour block to focus. It can be hard to find 30 minutes or more to exercise.
What is the alternative? Do we just not exercise until we have enough time? Do we not read, pray, meditate, or even start a task until we have enough time to do it well? I feel like there is a tendency to say to ourselves, “I have 10 minutes, which is not enough time to do much, so I will check email or Facebook”. I know I have thought this many times.
I will argue 5 reasons why consistency beats quality.
1. Good habits are formed by a consistent daily routine.
If you do something every day, it will become so ingrained in your daily routine that it will come to define who you are. If you decide to exercise in the morning, even for 10 minutes, you will miss not doing it. Something will not seem right. But suppose you miss just one 10 minute exercise session a week. You have still managed to work out 6 days out of the week. On the other hand, suppose you have set out a goal to work out 1 hour per day for 3 days a week. If something comes up that keeps you from getting your full hour in, you may just not exercise. Missing one time a week on this three 3 day schedule suddenly puts you down to 2 times a week, making you probably more discouraged to the point you may not see the point in exercising at all. In this case, the focus on quality did you no favors. True consistency has been gained with the 10 minute, everyday approach.
2. Daily activity equals increased productivity.
Anything done daily has a tendency to increase productivity because you start to go more on auto pilot. If you drive to work or a client on a regular basis, do you remember every turn? Your brain doesn’t have to think as much because the habit is ingrained in you.
Some things might be better to do weekly or monthly, such as certain financial activities. I address this in the financial checklist. There will still be increased productivity because of consistency that is built up by doing the activity at the same time each week or month. We have a tendency to easily remember what we did the same time last week or month.
3. Mastering the mundane leads to success
There is a whole chapter devoted to mastering the mundane in “The Slight Edge”. Financial success is usually a consistent practice of spending less than you make and investing a little of what you save. Just saving 10% of what you make from ages 25 to 65 at an average income of $70,000 per year at a 10% return will leave you about $3.1 million for your golden years. That is saving $8,000 a year, $580 a month or $20 a day. Some of us spend $20 a day on Starbucks and lunch. In the book Millionaire Next Door, it talks about how people did little things each day, week, and month to become millionaires and you wouldn’t even know it.
4. More Peace (Less Stress)
Doing a little each day makes you feel as if you are accomplishing your goals. On the other hand, if you wait until you have more time, you will feel guilty and possibly more stressed as procrastination, delays, or other unforeseen events keep you from doing what you know you need to do.
I have been trying to read from a good book each day. If I only have 15 minutes, I feel better because I know I did something rather than having the thought of not doing it on my mind all day.
5. Big Projects are not so big.
We know that it is easier to break big projects down into small chunks or sprints. Have you heard about eating an elephant one bite at a time? We know no one actually eats elephants, but that is beside the point.
Cleaning up a business’ financials or hitting a revenue goal seems challenging. Maybe you want to grow your business by 20% and that is $500,000 more revenue. That may seem like a lot, but it is definitely more manageable if you say that it is $42,000 a month or about $10,000 a week. By breaking it down this way, you can better assess the resources needed and make necessary adjustments along the way.
In summary, I argue that being consistent is better than quality. Don’t let the idea of doing something perfect or with the highest quality paralyze you. Good habits performed daily, weekly, or even monthly lead to more productivity. Master the mundane and live more in peace. Finally, big projects will begin to seem manageable. Consistency leads to success while quality and perfection can lead to frustration. Consistency might not be perfect, but it can lead to more perfection in due time.
For more information on specifically why consistency is helpful for small businesses, read “Consistency is Powerful”.
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