As the name suggests, micro habits require minimal motivation and effort to accomplish. Eventually, this little habit will build on top of itself into something bigger and better for you and your goals. It’s like when you start running. You may only be able to make it half a mile. But, eventually, you’ll be cruising through marathons.
Overall, micro habits have the ability to transform every aspect of your life. And that certainly applies to your productivity. Here are 21 mico habits that can be done in about a minute but will boost your productivity by 100% over time.
1. Read 3-pages of a book before bed.
You don’t want to hit the hay when you’re in a bad mood. Or, even worse, after you’ve filled your brain with garbage like reality TV. Yes, it’s understandable that you’d like to decompress before going to bed. However, what you do before bed can affect how well you wake up and how you feel throughout the day.
The answer? Read something uplifting and inspiring. Ideally, a biography from someone you would consider a hero or mentor. Or, if you prefer a self-help book.
Since it takes on average 1.7 minutes to read one page, there’s really no excuse not to make this nightly ritual.
2. Start each day with power and intention.
When you want to start a new healthy habit or break out of your comfort zone, you first need a strong intention to accomplish that. As Wayne Dyer, author of “The Power of Intention,” wrote, “The power of intention is the power to manifest, to create, to live a life of unlimited abundance, and to attract into your life the right people at the right moments.”
In fact, every action you take in life can be guided by an intention. For example, whenever you eat, set the intention of eating mindfully. Or, instead of fixating on the desired outcome at work, feel focused on feeling fully expressed in what you do.
To get started, simply ask yourself, “What am I aiming to achieve?”
3. Wake and meditate.
Can you really meditate in 60-seconds? Absolutely.
According to research from 2019, regular short-duration meditation can have similar health benefits to longer meditations. In short, the frequency of your daily practices appears to matter more than the length.
Starting with a minute each day, you may soon find yourself stopping several times, or even five or six times, throughout the day. Over time, mindfulness becomes a habit.
A good way to begin the day with mindfulness and live in the now is in the first moments of waking up by;
- Make sure your body is in a comfortable position.
- Take a moment to scan your body quickly as you stretch.
- Take note of how your body feels in each part.
- Inhale and exhale several times for one minute.
4. Whittle down your responsibilities.
After meditating, you helpfully feel calm enough to review your to-do list or calendar. But, to make sure that you don’t overextend yourself, prioritize your tasks and schedule them accordingly.
Now, some prioritization strategies will take much longer than a minute. But, each morning, you should make sure that you’re going to spend your day on your most important tasks. These are only 1-3 essential tasks. That’s it.
But, which tasks should you consider the most important?
In his book “The Personal MBA,” Josh Kauffman, a productivity expert, explains that a critical task is one that will lead to the results you are aiming for. In other words, a critical task(s) that will have the biggest impact. Of course, not every task has equal importance. To keep track of his tasks, Kauffman typically uses a 3×5 index card. But, you can use a post-it note, whiteboard, or to-do list app.
Additionally, Kauffman recommends making an artificial deadline to take advantage of “Parkinson’s Law.”. For example, “I’ll have finished all of my MITs by 11 a.m.” Just make sure you are realistic about the deadline. After all, you don’t want to set yourself up for failure.
I would then take another minute and add this task and deadline to your calendar. This way, you won’t schedule anything else until you’ve completed your MITs.
5, Don’t make your morning workout a chore.
You might squabble at this. But, you don’t always have to spend 30-minutes or an hour exercising. In fact, there’s a one-minute workout that you should implement into your morning routine.
“Our One-Minute Morning Energizer routine is based on high-intensity interval training (HIIT) research done recently by exercise physiologists at McMaster University in Canada,” writes the folks over at Eat This, Not That.
“Dozens of studies have shown that HIIT, or short bursts of fast, rigorous exercise sandwiched in between slow recovery periods, burns more calories and improves fitness better than long, moderate-intensity exercise, like jogging,” they add. In this study, 14 sedentary and obese men and women on exercise bicycles were put through a HIIT workout which typically takes about 25 minutes. However, the McMaster researchers wanted to see if HIIT workouts can provide health and fitness benefits in a very short amount of time.
Participants who did these super-short workouts three times a week improved their blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and other indicators of health and fitness after six weeks.
One minute of vigorous aerobic activity is broken up into three 20-second bursts followed by a 60-second “active rest”. In total, the fitness routine takes just 6 minutes, including warm-up and cool-down. This is a great way to kick off your day.
Instead of using a stationary bicycle, use bodyweight exercises;
- Warm-up (2 minutes) – 60 seconds of slow, marching in place while circling your arms followed by 60 seconds of easy jumping jacks.
- High-intensity exercise (20 seconds) — choose from one of these bodyweight exercises: arms-up squats, mountain climbers, or burpees.
- Recovery (60 seconds) – slow, steady march in place.
- Arms-up squats/ mountain climbers / or burpees (20 seconds).
- Recovery march in place (60 seconds).
- Arms-up squats/ mountain climbers / or burpees (20 seconds)
- Recovery/ cool-down march in place (60 seconds)
6. Adhere to the one-minute rule.
In general, if you can accomplish a task in under a minute, do it right away. For example, you can respond to a quick email, schedule a task, or tweet.
Gretchen Rubin, author of “The Happiness Project” says it’s a good way to keep small, nagging tasks under control. If you have a lot of little tasks or struggle with anxiety, this could be a helpful daily habit.
7. Disable all notifications for at least one long stretch of work every day.
Switching from one task to another is not easy for our brains. Whether it’s an email or a text, even a single notification can take you away from your work for up to 40% of the day.
Do you think checking that notification is really worth it?
Maybe if you had an unlimited supply of time. Unfortunately, that’s not realistic. So, if you want to help yourself and your career, spend a second silencing all notifications for at least one long time block, usually 2 to 4 hours.
8. Exchange self-pity for gratitude.
Studies show practicing gratitude before bed can lead to better sleep and a more productive tomorrow. Reinforcing what you’re grateful for each day is an effective way to kill negativity and be a more positive thinker. You can do this internally or even better, journal a list of what you’re grateful for. Journaling has many benefits, from relieving anxiety and tension to inspiring creativity and new ways of thinking.
9. Give your eyes a break.
Students and workers alike spend many hours a day staring at computer screens, where poor lighting, glare, and slumped posture can result in headaches and eye strain. These symptoms commonly occur after you log out of your computer and are known as “computer vision syndrome.”.
Keep your eyes safe by scheduling frequent breaks from screen time. It is recommended that you look away from the screen for at least 20 seconds every 20 minutes when working on the computer.
When your eyes get a break, they are able to focus on something else and become less fatigued. Taking a nice, long stretch at this time is also a good idea — especially if you sit a lot. It’s a simple and effective way to get the blood flowing.
10. Before you say yes, pause.
A brief pause not only buys you some time but also enables you to assess what is really going on by asking questions like;
- Was this a request? Or was it merely a suggestion?
- What’s the cost of saying “yes.”
- Will this serve my mission or bring me closer to my goals?
- Is this worth putting on my to-do list?
- Are there alternatives? For example, instead of meeting, a quick Slack chat.
Usually, this calms your anxious thoughts and prevents you from being a people pleaser. And, most importantly, from overcommitting yourself.
11. Create accountability by telling others.
“If your tasks don’t have accountability built into them (like a client deadline), creating accountability by letting others know your intentions is a great way to discipline yourself into staying on task,” writes S. J. Scott “Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes That Take Five Minutes or Less.”
“You won’t want to embarrass yourself by admitting you didn’t get any work done, so you’re much more likely to achieve your goals if you make them public.”
12. Keep inspiring quotes near you.
The power of quotes is undeniable. But, why? Well, science says that inspirational quotes motivate us because there’s implicit coaching involved, metaphors make ideas compelling, and we want to look up to others.
As such, it’s important to read at least one good quote a day in order to be in the right frame of mind. For example, post it at your desk or on your fridge. When you do, you can refer to it when you need a little jolt.
13. Be less reactive
If something enrages you or upsets you instantly (even if it’s just a negative thought) before reacting to it and pouring your energy into it, you should ask yourself why. By taking that micro-pause, you will see everything in a new light.
Or, you can simply count backward from 10 before letting these feelings occupy your mind and deplete your energy.
14. Limit the number of decisions you make.
Making too many decisions exhausts the brain and causes fatigue. You can manage your energy by doing your most important work first thing in the morning.
Another suggestion? Make fewer decisions.
Throughout the day, use lists to avoid random decisions. After all, checklists keep us organized and focused.
More specifically, plan your meals or clothes the night before. And, find ways to automate certain decisions, such as signing up for automatic bill payment for regular expenses.
15. Write or say one goal x10.
Writing down or saying out loud a goal ten times will help you to focus your mind on how to achieve it. You can help your brain with these processes of external encoding and storage by connecting a physical action, such as writing or speaking.
With external storage, you’re reminded of what you’re aiming for. Your brain encodes information to determine what to retain and what to discard from memory.
By regularly focusing on a goal, you literally train your brain to filter the external environment for relevant information, enabling it to maintain the goal in conscious awareness.
But, don’t just take my word for this, This is supported by the research. The chances of achieving goals are up to 1.2 to 1.4 times higher for people who write, say or describe them vividly.
16. Make a clear list.
If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you’re probably working on multiple projects simultaneously. Is this counterproductive? No doubt. But, sometimes, that’s just how the cookie crumbles.
The downside, of course, is that having too much on your plate leads to being disorganized and strapped for time. And, it also makes tracking your progress difficult.
So, take a minute and find an item to clear from your list. If it’s still important, identify to whom you can delegate this responsibility. Or, even better, completely remove it from your to-do list.
17. Get rejected.
Contact one or two people each day you’d like to work with, even if you’re sure they won’t be interested. Examples could be a prospective client, investor, or an organization to which you’d like to speak. It could even be a booking agent or industry leader who accepts guest blog posts.
You may not hear back right away. But someone will reply eventually. The risks are minor, and the gains could be considerable. And, it’s a simple way to help you deal with setbacks and improve your communication skills.
18. Put everything away.
“At the end of my workday, I take 10 minutes and kind of put everything away that I can,” Gretchen Rubin tells CNBC Make It. “I don’t do deep cleaning or deep clutter cleaning, but I will put things in their places.”
Not only can this help with the transition from home to work, but addressing these tiny tasks prevents them from building up and becoming overwhelming. “Also, it’s much easier to feel focused,” she says, “because it’s easy to concentrate on whatever matters the most when we’re not distracted by a bunch of little tasks or unfulfilled projects.”
19. Write a done list.
“Most people are familiar with to-do lists, but these lists can easily make you feel overwhelmed and demotivated if you try to plan too much,” writes Scott. “A done list has the opposite effect. By writing down everything you achieve each day, you’ll feel motivated to continue.”
20. Set your alarm 60 seconds earlier.
Have you ever felt like you were in a race against the clock rather than having an enjoyable start to your day? Getting up earlier can help.
At the same time, if you bump your alarm up by 30 minutes, you could feel like you’re not getting enough sleep. You may even be interfering with your circadian rhythm. Rather than changing your wake-up time, just set it one minute earlier each morning.
Even if you don’t notice it now, after 10 days, you could have 10 extra minutes in your morning. And, you can use that time to meditate, exercise, journal, or send out that email that might get rejected.
21. Exchange self-pity for gratitude.
Researchers have found that practicing gratitude before bed can improve sleep and productivity the next day. Being grateful for what you have each day can help you beat negativity and be a more positive person.
Make a list of things you’re thankful for inside your head or, even better, create a gratitude journal. It relieves anxiety and tension, inspires creativity, and opens up new perspectives.
The key to success? Habit stacking.
If you want these habits to stick, you need these new behaviors to follow something that you already do. For example, after brushing your teeth you could meditate or journal.
“Every behavior needs a prompt to occur. Your existing routine can serve a prompt in a powerful and elegant way,” explains BJ Fogg, Ph.D., who founded Stanford University’s Behavior Design Labs.
Fogg recommends that you put your phone on do not disturb mode as soon as you sit at your desk to increase productivity. Eventually, it will boost your productivity when the habit takes hold, he says. Having small habits will allow you to “be less fearful to try to attempt other changes.”
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