If there’s one thing I’ve come to realize in 2021, its that the little habits in life, in fact, do matter. And when those little habits stack up, they have the ability to become something terrible – or something unbelievably great.
In the spirit of a new year and fresh start, I’m focusing on cultivating healthy micro-habits – or the small, conscious habits that are attainable and fairly easy to fit into your current day.
But how do you make these micro-habits stick? Most importantly, you choose to start. These habits should also be small, attainable, and meaningful. The beauty of some micro-habits is that you can see positive results almost immediately – and that alone can make them stick for good.
If there’s a time to start something healthy and new, well, it’s right now. Here are my nine micro-habits that will make 2021 a year of personal growth.
1. Check in on one person a day
I got this one from Lauryn Evarts-Bosstick of The Skinny Confidential. She recently shared her daily to-do list, and on there she has a spot where she “sends happiness” to three people each day. How beautiful is that?
For starters, pick out one person a day to reach out to. Whether it’s a family member, friend you haven’t spoken to in ages, or a coworker you haven’t seen beyond the screen, send them a personal message to let them know that you’re thinking about them. That one connection might make the world’s difference in that person’s day.
2. Time block one part of your day
As someone who is self-employed, creating and managing my schedule is something that I’m always improving on. But if there’s one habit that has helped my productivity by a landslide, it’s time blocking.
While I’m not one to time block my entire day, I’ll strictly time block two hours my morning to get the major things done first. Whether it’s dedicated time for publishing an article, working out, or doing contenting education, I’ll make sure I block that first section of the day to get it done.
Depending on what your goal is, start by recognizing what part of the day you are most productive and block that time for the thing you need to get done. If your goal is to work out every day, notice when you’re most energized and block that time for a workout. By optimizing your energy and time, you’ll be surprised at how productivity leaks into the other hours of your day.
3. Make your bed every morning
Making your bed can improve productivity and reduce your stress levels more than you know. By keeping your bed clean and organized, it will reflect in your entire personal space and your state of mind.
And it’s not just that – making your bed first thing in the morning creates a sense of productivity, which can consequently lead to a more organized and productive life. And we can all agree on this – climbing into a freshly made bed at night makes going to sleep feel that much better.
4. Write down 3 good things that happened each day
I took a 1-credit positive psychology class senior year at Boston University thinking it would be an easy A (which, it was.) But little did I know that our one and only project would make a lasting habit, even 10 years later.
Our only assignment for the semester was to write down 3 good things that happened every day, for approximately 3.5 months. The outcome? I was way more optimistic, glass-half-full thinking… and to this day, I practice this habits every single morning.
Whether you have a personal notebook or a paper next to your desk with your to-do’s for the day, at the very top, put the date and numbers one through three. Write down three good things that happened – even if its first thing in the morning. Maybe you made your bed, didn’t snooze or made a good breakfast, write it down. It’s about recognizing the little good things that eventually stack up and make you a happier person.
5. Really recognize “wants” vs “needs”
Online shopping is easier than ever – and in the world of Prime, we can have a new crock pot or Alexa delivered to our door before we can say “checkout.”
A good habit to start is to ask yourself: “is this something I really neeeeed?” Before you check out, look through your cart and question whether you’ll be excited about the purchase a few months from now. And if the answer is no, well, abandon the cart.
6. Put the phone away while you’re eating
This is a hard one for me, but I do my best to stick to it. Finding moments of zero screen time is tough in this day and age, especially when many of us check our personal accounts during work breaks like lunch.
But since meals are only (roughly) three times a day, eating is the best time to practice some zero-screen mindfulness. And this is even more important when you’re eating with a friend or family. Give your meal and moment – or the person you’re dining with – your full, undivided attention. Taking your mind out of the digital world and into your current world to truly be in the moment and be mindful of your food.
7. Start – and end – your day with water
Your body needs water for, well, pretty much every function. By gulping down a large glass of water (or warm lemon water for added benefits), you’re starting your day with a healthy habit – and that may lead to a cascade of better choices throughout the day.
Drinking water first thing in the morning has been shown to increase weight loss, improve mental performance, open detox pathways and more. On the contrary, drinking warm water before bed will keep you hydrated throughout your sleep and may aid the body to rid itself of toxic overload. Start by keeping a large glass or water bottle right by your bed to remind you to drink up.
8. Do *One More*
I got this one from Ed Mylett in his podcast where he talks about “separation season” and separating yourself from your competition and your past self in times where everyone wants to slow down. If you’re doing a workout set, make yourself do one more rep. If you’re at the end of the work day and have another task you can do without killing yourself, do it. These little “separators” that accumulate will change who you are and take you further than your competition (even if the competition is your past self.)
9. Call and send voice messages rather than texts
In a world where face-to-face interactions are far and few, hearing someones voice (without being muzzled by a mask) goes a long way. Instead of sending someone a text, shoot them a call to connect. And if a call doesn’t work, send a voice message. If you’re someone who’s afraid the conversation will go on longer than you want, make it clear you have a cut-off time for something else you gotta do. Making our connections to loved ones more *personal* is an easy, fantastic way to show how you really care.