Mini-Habits are harder than they look

This is from Quora – my answer to a question about how to develop good mini-habits.

Mini-habits are tricky because we could have 100 mini habits to make a better day, and we’d end up doing none of them.

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There are so many things to do in an ideal day:

  • flossing and tooth cleaning
  • exercise
  • meditation or mindfulness
  • reading
  • journaling
  • gratitude
  • study
  • reaching out to others
  • healthy eating
  • cleaning
  • tidying
  • improving our home environment
  • helping others
  • Quora ?
  • and there are so many more.

A guiding principle might be to approach your day with an overriding guiding principle of Discipline or Action – whatever you think it is you could do with more of.

We can spend some time in grouping small habits, and prioritizing, something like this.

We can then allocate blocks of time, or blocks of energy, for different clusters of activities. Grouped, they will be easier to manage.

If we don’t like to be too regimented and dictated to by the clock, we might be able to think, “Time for some grooming/getting ready activities,” and then just do as many of that sort of thing that we can think of for a while. Cover the basics first, then do a few of the more specialized tasks.

Another way of looking at a day might be to see it like a long cable-stayed bridge, like the beautiful Millau Bridge in France.

Think of the pillars like the times that ‘stick out’ in our day, for example:

  • getting out of bed
  • breakfast
  • leaving for the day
  • starting work
  • lunch
  • going home from work
  • dinner
  • bedtime
  • you might find it more useful to have other ‘pillar’ moments in your day.

Now decide which activities are most useful to represent the cables:

  • Activities that lead up to those pillars.
  • Activities that come after the pillars.
  • Slot in the activities that will be best for you to move towards the goals you have for the day.
  • This might mean that you need to give some time to deciding:
    • What you want to achieve long-term.
    • What this breaks down to doing each day.
    • This time will be well spent.

While 1 or 2 mini-habits are manageable, lots of them can become unmanageable.

The final step is to make them, in fact, habits. That means doing them almost every day. Once you find something that works, commit to repeating it every day. If you don’t think you can do that, it’s back to the drawing board to design something that is more sustainable.

Oh, and if you don’t get this perfectly right at first, or don’t do it every day, don’t give up. This will take some time, and every tiny improvement is better than nothing, and makes something to work on for the future.

Here’s more about turning bad habits into better ones.

I hope there are some techniques here that can help.