I tried to eat healthily. I failed. I forced myself to exercise every day. I failed. I tried to get into the habit of writing. I failed. Sounds familiar?
If you’re like me, you’ve probably tried (and failed) to make various changes in your life at some point.
And while lofty goals are great, the truth is that trying to change too many things at once is often a recipe for disaster.
This realization came to me in the strangest way.
I was sitting in my room, surrounded by a sea of books and half-empty coffee cups. My final exams were in two days and I was overwhelmed.
I studied for weeks, but the content felt like a foreign language. I was sure I was going to fail the exams.
But suddenly, I heard a voice in my head saying, “I can do this. I will concentrate on one page at a time.”
And that’s when I had a breakthrough.
Instead of trying to memorize everything at once, I started to break the program into small parts. I focused on one concept at a time and slowly but surely the pieces began to fall into place.
Here, I share how these micro habits helped me create macro-changes — fitness, lifestyle, and productivity.
1. Eat before you go shopping.
It was a hot summer day when I had to go shopping after school.
I was tired, sweaty, and, above all, hungry. I intended to grab a quick bite to eat before heading to the store, but I got caught up in my chores and haven’t eaten anything since breakfast.
As I wandered around the store, my stomach started growling.
Suddenly, every item in the store seemed irresistible. I loaded my cart with chocolate bars, bags of chips, and other junk I wouldn’t have even considered if I hadn’t been so hungry.
When I got to the checkout line, my cart was flooded with unhealthy snacks. Paying for my purchases, I realized that I had made a mistake.
2. Set up a “repetition rule”.
Did you know that the average person hits the snooze button more than three times before getting out of bed?
I was one of them
While the benefits of not napping weren’t rocket science, I couldn’t follow them. I couldn’t wake up on the first try. It seemed impossible and unnatural.
A negative inner voice consumed me: “It’s okay to let yourself sleep a little longer.”
But Hal Elrod’s book “The Miraculous Morning” made me adopt a “nap rule.”
The rule was: “I can only hit the snooze button once. I have to get out of bed when the alarm goes off. Or, I’ll have “one day no phone” or “no Netflix for two days.”
This little rule helped me train my body and mind to wake up whenever I wanted. I slowly built a healthy habit. And this is how I always wake up at 4:00 in the morning:
3. Never go to bed with a dirty kitchen.
My mother always told me: “Never go to bed with a dirty kitchen”, and it is something that I have always ignored.
I would usually leave the dishes in the sink overnight and start the day with a messy kitchen in the morning.
As you can imagine, this didn’t do wonders for my productivity and mood.
But one night some friends visited me and one of them had this strict rule. He also had OCD. So he didn’t leave until my kitchen was clean.
The next day was a great relief.
Not only did I start my day with a much cleaner and nicer kitchen, but it also set a positive tone for the rest of the day.
I felt like I could take on anything that came my way.
On the days I didn’t clean, I felt like I was running late. The day started badly. The mess made me eat packaged foods instead of cooking healthy meals.
It made me realize the importance of a clean kitchen.
This microhabitat has deeply impacted my mornings: cooking healthy meals, waking up stress-free, a sense of accomplishment, a productive mindset, and mornings without overload or hassle.
4. A quick 1-minute workout every time you use the restroom.
I read somewhere that the average person spends an hour and 45 minutes every week of their life sitting on the toilet.
It’s a long time!
I had already failed to make training a daily habit, so it seemed like a perfect way to start.
I started with ten push-ups/crunches/jumping jacks/climbing/squats every time I went to the bathroom.
And let me tell you, it added up quickly!
5. Invest 10 minutes at the end of your day to plan for tomorrow.
Bedtime Planning sucks!
You want to fall asleep watching your favorite shows, not planning for tomorrow.
And it’s one of the most magical things to experience as an adult. It works like a visual lullaby.
But it’s detrimental to your health, productivity, and mental clarity.
Every time I had a night like this, I woke up like I had a hangover. My productivity skyrocketed. I was in a bad mood. And my day usually felt like crap.
That’s why the 10-minute time slot didn’t hurt too much. I started by listing three things I wanted to accomplish the next day before I went to bed.
It was quick and painless, and it helped me wake up with clarity and purpose. My days became more productive and I felt more in control of my life.
I finally figured it out: a Netflix lullaby isn’t nearly as satisfying as starting your day off on the right foot and getting things under control.
This simple habit has helped me become a better writer, and it’s also a great way to keep my mind clutter-free.