Are you aware of your habits? Whether big or small, these things that you’re doing consistently have a very significant effect on your life. Do they bring you peace of mind, or do they end up making you overwhelmed throughout the day?
Habit, by definition, is one’s settled practice that is hard to give up. It’s not necessarily comfortable, but these are the tasks that you’re used to. And over time, leaning towards doing them is going to be “easier.”
You now get the idea, so I think our habits make us. Think of it like how you let the computer do certain tasks to achieve a goal. For example, maybe you want it to highlight all the typographical errors, so you’ll have an easier time proofreading a novel. These habits that we do every day eventually lead the way to our goals as well.
The small habits that I’ve listed below are very doable. At the same time, you can apply them to your daily schedule easily. You might actually be shocked by how enjoyable they might be. Think of them, not as a chore, but a step forward to better tomorrows.
Break Down a Big Task into Smaller Tasks
Whether you deny it or not, let’s face it, all of us have a habit of complaining before trying. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed, but we can make the situation more doable for us. Before you get intimidated and proclaim that a task is too much, try breaking it down into smaller and easier tasks. This will make it more manageable and more possible to do.
For example, if you have a whole semester to write your thesis, why not dedicate an hour or less every day to start making the outline. This isn’t as overwhelming immediately compared to cramming the task in a month before a deadline. At the same time, you don’t feel any pressure to finish a big achievement immediately.
What works for me is by writing out what I want to achieve in a day on my whiteboard in front of my desk. I write, “I will write two paragraphs on Wednesday.” in bold dark letters. In return, having this dictative phrase on the whiteboard encourages me to do it.
I even play some music, and when I get to a certain song, I know that I’ve been productive. You can also make your desk more appealing so that it compels you to stick to your to-dos. My main motivation is my family, and seeing their picture reminds me that this hard work will pay off.
Overall, breaking down a difficult task into smaller, easier tasks is a way of setting yourself to success. Think of it as shortening the number of steps that you have to do to achieve it. It’s a simple habit that you can apply in your every day tasks, and you can also reward yourself once you’ve done them.
Do it Now, Regardless of How Quick It’ll Be to Get Done
Ever since I was in middle school, when I know an assignment can be done in the morning before going to school, I’ll spend the night playing games. And most of the time, doing things like these will result in an average performance. But would just settle for average when you are capable of doing your best?
Procrastination is easy, and some people actually work best under pressure. However, you end up sacrificing time and effort that you can exert for much harder tasks. You might be putting off something as mundane as opening your mails because you can do it in less than 5 minutes anyway. But there you go, it only takes less than 5 minutes, do it now!
Over time, you’ll develop that trait of putting off small tasks. Perhaps your sink is getting full or dirty dishes, or that you need to refill your food containers from the stock in the pantry. Maybe you need to change your whole house water filters. They are very small tasks, but when they accumulate, you’ll just get lazier to do them. At the same time, putting off something as easy as filter replacement can cause you more inconvenience in the long run, as mentioned here.
You can actually make use of your waiting periods throughout the day, as well. Instead of pulling out your phone to stalk your crush in social media, use this short time to do other productive things. Maybe you’ve been sitting for awhile, so why not stand up and stretch while waiting for your browser to load. Are you standing in line at the cafe? You may already open that new work email during this period. You can also use these short waiting periods as breaks where you can take a deep breath, drink a glass of water, and reflect.
Once you’re done with your chores and duties, put them out of your sight. Done cleaning your dishes? Wipe them dry and put them on their shelves. Organize the mail that you’ve opened. Throw out your empty food containers and boxes. A clutter-free home is a clutter-free mind.
Prepare Tonight What You Need to Do Tomorrow
Before you go to bed, or even when you’re lying in bed, take out a notepad or the task application on your phone. Organizing your to-do list is not complicated, and you’ll be giving future you a quicker time doing them in order and much easier. This way, you won’t wind up forgetting things or doing your tasks in a haphazard order.
This tip is particularly useful for me on the weekends when I know my upcoming week is going to be hectic. For some reason, it prevents me from getting overwhelmed because I already have an idea of what to expect. At the same time, it allows me to create a game plan so I won’t get overwhelmed on a Sunday night.
At night, I already prepared the clothes that I’m going to wear for the next day. I also made sure that everything that I need to bring are all on the table near the door. This way, I can easily remember and take them with me.