A month of tiny habits

Last month I wrote about building better habits. At the time, I had just started working on a series of daily activities that I wanted to turn into habits. When I first started, I put a few daily habits in place and figured I would just see how things went. It’s now been just about a month and figured it was time to check in.

The starters

At the beginning, I set up a series of tasks that I felt I could do without much effort. And that was the goal. I wanted them to be so dead simple that I’d be able to do them without much thought at all. Here’s the tasks I started with:

  • 4 sets of pushups (3 pushups per set)
  • Read for 15 minutes
  • Drink water
  • Write for 10 minutes

Pushups: My plan was to start with 3 pushups per set and every couple weeks increase that number. I’m happy to report, I haven’t missed a day and have increased the sets to 5 pushups each.

Reading: This has been a great one. I’ve been reading AT LEAST 15 minutes each day, and have finished 3 books. I don’t think I read 3 books total in 2018, so this is really exciting for me. When I first started, I was reading at night and was finding it difficult to get into it. But, after 3 or 4 days I switched it up and am now reading before work while having my coffee. This has made all the difference. And, it kicks my brain into gear, so when I get to my desk, I’m ready to engage right away.

Water: This one is a little open-ended. How much water was I supposed to drink? Well, I just wanted to get back in the habit of drinking water since it’s been a while. We went to Costco and purchased a water dispenser and set up a monthly water subscription. I started slowly with about a glass of water per day. We also bought some ThermoFlasks which has been a big help. It’s amazing how long they can keep water cold. I’m averaging more than two 24-ounce flasks a day at this point. I’d call this one a big success.

Writing: I have one blemish on my perfect record for the month and it’s because of this task. But, that missed day helped me understand more about the tasks I was creating, so it was probably a good thing. I’ll talk more about it in minute.

So, what’s changed?

I knew that my list of tasks would change over time. I wasn’t wrong there. As days went by and I was knocking out the tasks each day, I wanted more tasks to complete. Here’s what my daily list looks like now:

  • Pushups: 4 sets per day
  • Sit-ups: 4 sets per day
  • Squats: 4 sets per day
  • Read 15 minutes
  • Drink Water
  • Move content forward

Aside from my daily tasks, I’ve also added a weekly task for Sunday evening where I write a ToDo list of 3 items I want to work on for the upcoming week.

Pushups, Sit-ups, & Squats: My idea here is to just keep increasing the amount I’m working out. Originally I was going to increase the reps every two weeks. But, I’ve decided to increase every week instead. On Monday I’ll move to 6 pushups, 6 sit-ups, and 12 squats. Each week that’ll go up by 1, 1, & 2 until I reach 25, 25, 50. That’s where I’d like to be. Slow and steady.

Reading & Water: I don’t plan on changing these at all. Just keep reading. Just keep drinking water. I’m still drinking a little more soda than I’d like to, so I need to clean that up a bit.

Content! I like working on content. Blogging, podcasting, etc. The day after I missed writing 10 minutes a day, I spent an hour recording a podcast episode. It dawned on me, having the task written as “Write 10 minutes per day” didn’t make as much sense as having it be a little broader of a task. My ultimate goal is to work on content. If I spend time every day working on something for my podcast, to me, that’s just as good as if I was to try and write on one of my blogs. So, with a quick change to the scope of the task, I am now back on track.

Is it working?

I’ve really been enjoying the daily tasks. And, I love that my wife has a stack of her own daily habits that she’s been working on, too. It’s fun to have somebody to cheer on and to cheer me on. I know that I want to add more daily tasks (I’m considering meditation), but I’m being methodical about it. I don’t want to add anything new until I’m sure it’s something I want to and can do on a daily basis.

The idea of the daily tasks is to turn them into habits. So, how do I know if these tasks are becoming habits? Yesterday was a pretty good indication that my things are going in the right direction. I was thinking about an upcoming vacation, and one of my first thoughts was “Can I pack my ab-mat to do my sit-ups in the hotel?” Yeah, I’d say it’s working.

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