I’m a planner.
I love a “to do” list.
I like structure and predictability.
Obviously this is a challenge right now during COVID-19 but while I can’t control everything around me I can maintain these simple habits each day.
What is a Habit
One of my favourite books is Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit – Why We Do What We Do and How to Change (I recommend borrowing it from your library or if you are a book buyer you can get it here* with free shipping).
Charles describes how our habits and rituals impact our daily lives. The habit cycle involves a “cue/trigger” which causes an “response/action” and you get a “reward”.
During April 2020, I developed a simple habit tracker to record the five key habits of my day. This helps me focus on things I can actually control. For each of these habits, I needed to develop a cue, response and reward.
Let me detail my habits.
This is the first habit I list for a reason. In these unprecedented times we must remember to put our own oxygen masks on first before we help others. My “me time” will look different each day. One day it might be 5 minutes, the next day – two hours.
Some examples of what I did in April were:
- Reading carefree historical romance novels
- Craft (for me cross stitch)
- Listening to podcasts (I’ll do a separate blog post soon with my favourites)
- Watching trashy TV shows
- Dancing to music
- Having a whole hot decaf coffee without a child interrupting me
- Colouring in
- Writing in my Start Today gratitude journal
- Having a day nap
- Literally stopping and looking at the beautiful rainbow after rain
- Watching an online makeup tutorial
- Zoom, Facetime and Houseparty calls with friends
- Meditating (this is something I am just learning to do more regularly)
- Making choc chip cookies and way too many loaves of banana bread
- Eating Nutella with a spoon straight from the jar
- Copying the “Go Noodle” dance moves
- A long hot shower where I took the time to wash my hair and shave my legs
- Watering the veggie patch
- Writing cards to friends (I get just as much joy writing cards as friends go receiving happy mail)
- Having phone free chill time looking about the window
Making me time is a hard habit to make but the rewards of doing it regularly are the best. I started embedding me time into my day by scheduling it in my diary. My cue was literally a meeting request “ding” going off on my phone from my calendar and my response was the actual me time I had chosen to do. For example when I cross stitch, the reward is seeing my artwork grow.
I was recovering from surgery in April so the most I could do was walk so I walked A LOT! As our farm still functioned as normal throughout April, I was responsible for looking after our children during the week while my husband worked. So, on weekends I would hit the roads and walk for two hours to escape the house and gain peace and quiet (a rarity with a 8yo and 6yo).
I treasure my morning farm track walk. Over the years I have adjusted my morning routine and I wake at 4.44am to exercise and have my “me time”. I find that my days run smoother and calmer if I exercise first thing in the morning. My walk is as much for my mental clarity as it is for my physical health.
My morning exercise habit “cue” is my vibrating Fitbit alarm. It goes off at 4.44am. My “response” is that I get dressed in my pre laid out exercise clothes and go for a walk. My “reward” is listening to audiobooks and podcasts while I walk. When I finish my walk I give myself an extra reward – a hot coffee in peace! This is my new normal. I don’t consciously think about it, the habit has formed in my brain, my body clock knows the drill and I just do it.
Making My Bed
Have you listened to US Navy Admiral William McRaven’s 6 min YouTube video “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed“? I highly recommend it! He also has a great book and audiobook “Make your bed – 10 life lessons from a NAVY SEAL*” that I borrowed from the library (I always recommend borrowing books from the library but if you are a book buyer you can by it here*
As I wake up before my husband, my cue to make my bed is when I walk into my bedroom to get my shoes. I see that the bed isn’t made and my response is to make it. My reward is I feel a sense of calm when I see the room tidy.
I have only been a regular bed maker since reading this book a year ago but I definitely find that starting my day by ticking off making my bed sets me up for success.
Drink the Water
It’s hard to start with and you have to have more toilet visits than before, but drinking the water is good for your body! I quit caffeine eight months ago and I really notice that I get tired when I’m dehydrated so I aim for at least two litres of water each day. Previously I would have a cup of coffee to wake me up but now I choose to drink a glass of water. Having two individual one litre drink bottles makes it easier for me to know when I’ve reached my target. I aim to finish both bottles before 5pm to avoid going to the toilet during the night.
My cue for drinking more water is to always have a drink bottle with me, when I see my drink bottle on my desk my response is to have a sip and my reward is quenching my thirst and in the long run this saves me from feeling tired from hydration.
Kitchen Clean up
I like to do a “Room Reset” of the house before I go to bed to reduce the build up of mess. If this is new to you I suggest focusing on the kitchen. I used to go to bed each night and say to myself “I’ll clean it in the morning”. Then I’d wake up and walk into a messy kitchen and think “Argh, why didn’t I do this last night?” At the end of the day I don’t want to tidy up the kitchen but I know “tomorrow me” will be so much happier to wake up to a clean kitchen than a messy kitchen. Honestly, if you stay on top of it (by making it a daily habit… hint, hint) you’ll probably be able to get it done in 15 minutes. Set a timer and just start!
What are some of the simple habits that are natural parts of your day?
What new habits would you like to develop?
Think about what your cue/trigger, response/action and reward is for each habit.
If you would like to use my Be Simply Free Habit Tracker (I’ve left 3 blank spaces for your individual habits) visit my resources page here to get a blank copy you can adapt to any month of the year.
* Heads up: This post contains affiliate links! If you buy something through one of these links, you won’t pay any more, but I’ll get a small commision. You can rest assured that I only recommend products that I truly love and use.