Adding new activities into your already busy schedule might seem extremely laborious and, in some cases, even cause some discomfort or anxiety. But changing your routine doesn’t have to be stressful if you take things slowly and approach it with the right mindset. The Cambridge Dictionary defines a habit as “something that you do often and regularly, sometimes without knowing that you are doing it.” And that makes perfect sense, since you will eventually find it more difficult not to do something once it becomes a habit. I’ve listed a few steps below that will help with hacking your habits and incorporating them in your day for good.
1. Define what you want to work on
As with any personal project, start off with creating a list of habits that you would like to include in your everyday routine. It could be anything from drinking more water or reading a chapter of a book every day to going to the gym 3 times a week. Think of as many as you wish and, if possible, group them into categories. By having them written down and divided into smaller groups, tackling them won’t seem as dreadful.
2. Hack habits in bulk
Pick two or three things from your list (or category) that you could incorporate together into your day and focus on these first. Trying to adapt to too many new habits at the same time will only make it harder for you to stay on track. Merging some smaller activities, on the other hand, will help you reach your goals faster and associate certain actions with others. A good example would be filling up your water bottle each time you sit down to read and making sure that you drink all of it before finishing the chapter.
3. Remember not to rush things
You might be tempted to go all in, but make sure to start slowly and keep things simple. If you’ve never been active before, making your goal going to the gym 5 times a week is not the greatest way to start your fitness journey. Not only are you likely to become easily discouraged, there is also a heightened risk of getting injured. Instead, start off with going for a longer walk three times a week and gradually increase your activity level. Once your fitness improves and walks become a habit, you can progress from there.
4. Say no to excuses
Give yourself the best opportunity to follow through on your new habit by preparing appropriately. Wake up earlier so that you can work out in the morning, or pack a kit bag and take it to work so that you don’t skip the gym later in the day. If you want to minimise screen time, hide your phone in your bag while you commute and read a book instead. Want to drink more? Simply put your water bottle in a visible place, on your desk, so that you’re always reminded to sip throughout the day. Try not to let your brain trick you into not doing something and just go for it!
5. Be proud of how much you’ve already achieved
Noticing the progress that you’ve already made will make you more aware of which activities are actually feasible to incorporate into your routine. Track your progress weekly using an app or a calendar, but don’t beat yourself up if you skip a day or two. There are a lot of designated habit trackers or templates online, test them out to see what works for you! This way you will keep yourself accountable and motivated for sticking to goals.
Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself! Set long term goals that may seem difficult in the beginning. With the right mindset, no rushing and a bit of self-reflection, I believe you can add new habits into your life. I really hope you’ve found some of these tips helpful and that maybe this was the slight nudge you needed to go and try something new!