The Power of Drawing a Small Doodle a Day – I Developed Efficient and Smarter Habits

This all started with lessons I learned from completing the 100-day project a few years ago. I wanted to get myself into the practice of drawing more so I thought that committing myself to drawing for 100 consecutive days would be a great kick-in-the-butt. And that’s exactly what I did. I created 100 art pieces. Whether or not I liked what I created is something else. But the point is, art was produced every day.But I attempted to do the 100-day project again the following year and failed completely. I was burning out and losing motivation–fast. In fact, each day felt like a big burden and the pressure to complete an art piece on a daily basis made me cringe. I also felt like a fraud. I felt like I had no integrity and couldn’t hold myself accountable. What happened?

My expectations got the best of me. I was trying to create a “masterpiece” every single day. I was seeking perfection every single day. Each artwork had to get at least 100 likes on social media or else it was validation that the art sucked. I gave myself these ridiculous rules on top of having a full-time job, by the way.

This was absolutely reckless of me. I recently realized I had this insecurity with overachievement and it was doing more harm than good. Needless to say, I was not being nice to myself. I held myself to unrealistic expectations. I set the bar so ridiculously high and always fell short because they were unachievable. No wonder I felt like a failure. Looking back, it makes sense why the 100-day project sucked for me. I literally set myself up for failure and each day was a reminder of not living up to these fantasy standards. Geez, why on earth did I do this to myself? Well, I now know that it’s always easier to recognize this in hindsight than during the moment.The first step is always being able to recognize and identify the source of why the project sucked for me. The second step is to learn from them. Even though I put myself through hell, I learned a lot from my time there. And it sounds crazy, but I wanted to try the 100-day project again. Actually, I wanted to do a whole year’s worth of drawings! 365 days! Was I setting myself up for failure again? Well, not exactly. I’m approaching the 365-day project with a new mindset. Here’s how I am finding success and staying motivated to do so.

  1. Keep the drawing small. Super small.
  2. Call them doodles instead.
  3. Keep the artwork consistent by using the same materials and medium.
  4. Find a fun place to keep all your doodles so you can build a collection.
  5. Track your progress.

Keep the drawing small. Super small.
I found a blank planner where I could fit every doodle in. Each calendar day in the planner was the perfect size for my small daily doodle. Each small box was the perfect parameter for me to stay within each day. I’ve also been reading a lot on micro habits and how super tiny habits are more sustainable than ambitious habits. For example, running every day for 10 minutes is more feasible than running for 10 miles a day. Basically, short-term ambition is not sustainable. Small bursts of energy over a long-term period set you up for success better.

Call them doodles instead.
Stop trying to create masterpieces in a day. I realize that Mother Nature doesn’t rush so why should I? A caterpillar takes the time it needs to transform into a butterfly. An acorn does not turn into a tree overnight. When I started telling myself to just doodle, the pressure to create perfect drawings went away. This allowed me to create freely. And masterpieces start with the freedom to create.

Keep the artwork consistent by using the same materials and medium.
Keep it simple. There are so many mediums and the endless options can actually stop you from creating. Because you have so much to choose from, you end of spending too much time deciding than actually drawing. I restricted myself to color pencils and a micron pen. That’s it. No more exploring mediums. I now spend more time exploring ideas to doodle.

Find a fun place to keep all your doodles so you can build a collection.
This builds on point no. 2. The blank planner allowed me to keep track of my daily doodles on a monthly basis and without me realizing, I was building a monthly collection! Collections are fun to build and I didn’t realize how fun it would be to create a month’s worth of doodles until I saw what a month’s worth looked like. It’s really an amazing feeling to see how they all come together. One doodle by itself doesn’t have much context. But 31 doodles together can tell a story. This was exhilarating and encouraged me more to doodle each day.

Track your progress.
Habit trackers really work. I use Bear Mindful’s Habit Tracker and you can find it here. I get really excited to mark each day complete. It’s an easy way to stay accountable to myself and to visually see my progress. I realize that it is so easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you haven’t done enough. With a habit tracker, you can see actual data of your progress.

I now look forward to every morning to draw. This new habit of mine has been a source of joy, especially during a pandemic when our spirits are down.Here are some notes I wrote in my planner to motivate myself to keep going:

  • Show up every day
  • Keep one small promise to yourself every day
  • Celebrate small wins
  • Be satisfied with even the smallest

The last point is a quote from Marcus Aurelius, by the way.

“Get a move on — if you have it in you — and don’t worry whether anyone will give you credit for it. And don’t go expecting Plato’s Republic; be satisfied with even the smallest progress, and treat the outcome of it all as unimportant.”

I hope you’re able to check back with me throughout 2021 to see my progress. February is Studio Ghibli themed and I cannot wait to see what the month will look like! I’m excited to see how my yearly collection of doodles will look as well!

Planner Details:

The planner I am using for my 365 doodles is from Appointed. They come in 6” x 8” and 8.5” x 11.4” sizes. I found mine at my favorite local stationery store called The Paper Mouse.


  • Water-resistant bookcloth cover
  • Center sewn
  • 13 blank months
  • Heavy weight cardstock where ink does not bleed through and great for drawing on both sides

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