Good morning friends! Can you believe we’re already to August?! Where has this summer gone? I shouldn’t be surprised- every year it seems to fly by and before we know it, school is about to start again. For us, the official first day of school starts on August 14, but the two days before that is when the kids get to meet the teacher and see who will be in their class.
This is an especially big deal for Jordan this year since she’ll be starting PK3. Luckily, she’s familiar with the school and even many of the teachers since James has been going there since he was in PK3.
I have so many mixed emotions about her starting school. On one hand, she’s ready to be socializing with the other kids and learning, and I know it will be great for her. But, it will be so hard to not have her home with me all day. I’ve been fortunate to have the kind of job where I’ve been able to be home with her since she was born and I will definitely feel her absence when she’s not here. She’s always popping into my office, coloring at the table behind my desk, playing with my washi tape collection, or sitting on my lap while I’m at the computer.
I’ll miss our leisurely mornings together where she helps me make my coffee and then we sit and play Busytown while I drink it. I feel big, hot tears stinging my eyes just thinking about it. I let them flow and then give myself that pep talk I’ve been rehearsing for months, “she’s gonna love it; it’ll be good for her; I’ll get so much more done in the day . . . ” That helps.
But, before this intro becomes a novel, let’s get to the heart of today’s post!
HOW TO BUILD HABITS
Whether you have big goals you want to accomplish in life, or just want to have your day run more smoothly, it tends to be our routines and habits that get us there. What we do on a daily basis shapes our life over time.
When I think about the kind of life I want to have, things like “be healthy and fit” and “have a close relationship with my kids” top the list. I’m also easily overwhelmed by all.the.things, so it’s important for me to have things in order to the extent they can be.
I love lists and the feeling of satisfaction of crossing things off that list. I like ticking off “make my bed” even though it’s something I do daily. It just makes me feel good.
Back in January, I started using a Habit Tracker to keep track and hold me accountable for those tasks I wanted to accomplish everyday. I ended up loving using this and it was easier to write the items one time and then check them off each day for a month, as opposed to writing the same thing down day after day.
Using the habit tracker was useful in two ways. One, it helped remind me throughout the day of those things I deemed important – it can be easy to forget or get distracted sometimes. Or somethings, when you’re tired, you’ll lie to yourself and say, “doing X isn’t that important to me. I’ll do it tomorrow.” Well, your smart/goal oriented self thought they were important and I always try to obey my smart self.
Two, it helped me actually accomplish those things so that I could get that checkmark satisfaction and ‘keep a streak’ going. If the day was nearing an end and there was no checkmark, I’d give myself that extra nudge to get it done. If there was no visual tracker, I might be more likely to slack.
HOW TO MAKE A HABIT STICK
There’s a book on habits that’s gotten rave reviews, Atomic Habits, if you want to dive deeper into the psychology of how habits are created, including the Cue, Craving, Response and Reward system.
The most important thing I’ve found for how to be successful with a habit or make a habit stick is to make it set up conditions that make the task attractive, easy and satisfying. At the same time, reduce the amount of physical and mental energy it takes to accomplish your habit.
For example, if having a salad everyday for lunch is the habit you want to establish, make it easy on yourself by going to the grocery store, getting all the ingredients you need for a delicious salad, preparing the salad into individual containers so they are ready to eat and all you have to do is plate it and add dressing. By the way, eating your salad on a pretty plate is way better than out of the plastic container!
Also, remember that you can start small with your habits and build on them. One new habit is better than nothing. With the salad example, maybe start with eating salad for two lunches instead of everyday. You want to set yourself up for success. And think about it, two salads a day for 1 month is 8! That’s great! Once you’ve established that consistency, you can add to it.
MY 10 DAILY HABITS
These are habits I’ve worked up to over time. I often do them without thinking, but having a habit tracker helps keep me accountable.
WAKE UP AND MAKE MY BED
For many years, I never made my bed. I guess it wasn’t that important to me. Something changed when I redid my master bedroom a few years ago and I saw how neat and pretty the room looked when the bed was made. Now, as soon as I wake up, I make the bed. And it instantly signals to my brain that the day has started and it’s time to get going. Plus, I love getting into a made bed at the end of the day- it’s so peaceful and welcoming.
See more of my Master Bedroom here.
PREPARE TWO WATER BOTTLES
I struggle with drinking enough water if I don’t have water sitting right in front of me. Since I live in a 2-story house and work from home, I prepare two big Yeti water bottles and keep one at my desk upstairs, and one in the kitchen downstairs. If I’m heading out in the car, I’ll grab the kitchen one and take it with me.
Preparing these two water bottles first thing in the morning helps ensure that I drink water throughout the day, whereas if I didn’t do this, I’m sure I wouldn’t.
JOURNAL 10 MINUTES
This practice of writing my thoughts free form by hand has been beyond beneficial for me. It’s also one thing I need to do daily more. I sometimes skip several days or more, and then when I get back to it, I realize how much I needed it.
MOVE 20 MINUTES
If you’ve been here for long, you know I’m a HUGE proponent of exercise, and I know from experience and the past #move20for30 challenges we’ve done together, that we can all move 20 minutes a day. It’s so good for our minds and bodies.
GET READY FOR THE DAY
This is another big one for me. I feel so much better about life and myself when I take a few minutes to get ready for the day. For me, that means a 5-minute makeup face, and freshening up my hair even if it’s in a topknot. I also put on real clothes (it can be tempting to stay in jammies when you work from home).
EAT DINNER AT THE TABLE
This is a new habit I’m bringing to my family, despite my son’s protests. In fact, he flat out said he wasn’t going to do it. #nosir It’s important to me that I teach my kids the value of enjoying a meal together, without devices, and distractions. They currently eat their dinner at the kitchen counter while watching ipads or iphones.
Because this is a new goal, I thought about ‘easing’ the kids into it, but now I think we’ll go cold turkey. All in with allowing them to eat at the counter on weekends or perhaps if it’s a sports night.
DEVOTE 15 MINUTES TO JAMES & JORDAN
Two years ago, I wrote 15 Minutes of Summer and the practice never left me. The idea comes from something my friend repeated to me from a child psychologist that said parents should make an effort to be fully present with their kids for an undivided 15 minutes everyday. I think the point was that even just 15 minutes of undivided attention a day is beneficial to kids.
It might sound silly to put this on your ‘habit’ list, but I found it really worked for me.
And it’s not just about the 15 minutes. It’s a reminder to me to make those connections throughout the whole day. To look my kids in the eye when they’re speaking to me. To fully listen when they’re talking.
I think a lot of really good parents feel like they aren’t spending enough time with their children. We’re all doing the best we can. Truly. But, when I stop whatever I’m doing and spend a dedicated 15 minutes (or more) with James and Jordan, I feel better, like I gave more of myself to them- which is what they really want anyway.
CLEAN KITCHEN ROUTINE & MAKE HOT TEA
The ‘hot tea’ part helps make this habit more attractive. I always start with putting a cup of water in the microwave for 2 minutes, then get started on the dishes. When the microwave beeps, I put a peppermint tea bag in the cup to brew for about 5 minutes. I’m usually done with loading the dishwasher and tidying up and wiping the counters by the time my tea is ready for 1/2 a splenda.
Then, I use my Dyson Stick Vac to quickly sweep and I’m done, lighting a candle at the end as another little reward. I can’t believe the current sale on the Dyson Stick Vac! I’m not sure how long it will last, but as I type this, it’s $200 off with PRIME shipping!
Drinking hot tea in the evening also helps prevent me from snacking on something late night.
PLAN THE NEXT DAY
I’m a huge planner nerd, but even as much as I love it, by the end of the day, I’m often too exhausted to plan my next day.
To make it easier/more attractive, I have a really cute planning notepad that I put right on my nightstand so that it’s super convenient for me to jot down the next day’s goals, activities, and appointments. I also put my breakfast, lunch and dinner plans so I’m not scrambling at the last minute.
READ 10 MINUTES
I love to read and have so many books I haven’t gotten to yet, so this is a newish habit for me. My plan is to read when I get in bed at night, right after I’ve planned my day.
While we’re talking books, I started reading Rising Strong by Brene Brown on the plane on the way to Chicago and couldn’t put it down. I’m only halfway through the book and I’ve already highlighted so many passages. If you’re on a path of self discovery and want to change your life and your relationships with people, I cannot recommend it enough.
MEDITATE 10 MINUTES
This is the hardest habit of all for me. But, it’s also one of the most critical to help me slow down, focus, and lessen the general anxieties I can feel in a day. I was using the Headspace app, but deleted it because I didn’t want to keep paying for it. Also, after a year of using it, I figured I should be able to meditate on my own. It’s hard though. I still feel like I suck at it.
But, that’s the beauty of habits. If you stick to them, you are bound to improve.
HOW TO TRACK YOUR HABITS
I started tracking my habits with an old school paper version habit tracker. I had so much success with this, that I included one in the Get Fit Done Guide.
PAPER HABIT TRACKER
I absolutely loved my paper habit tracker. You can get all fancy and use different colors and customize it and make it pretty so that you want to use it. The only ‘problem’ was that some of my habits occurred upstairs, and some downstairs, and I didn’t like moving it from room to room so I could check things off.
On the top, you can write in the date, and along the left side, you write in the habit you want to track. I used colored pencils to fill in the ‘done’ columns, but you can use an X or checkmark or whatever you like. FREE Monthly Habit Tracker
HABIT TRACKER APP – “DONE”
There’s an app for that. Of course! 😉 This post is not sponsored, I’m just sharing what I’ve been using. I downloaded the Done app while I was in Chicago and so this is the first full week of me using it. It takes a minute to set up, but there is a very useful FAQ that will walk you through it.
And, the cool thing is, you can get fancy and track a habit you’re quitting, like drinking soda for example. And you can make your habit twice a week or every other day or once a month.
I put my 10 habits on there and you tap the habit as you complete it and it changes color (to the color of your choice).
Then, it compiles your data into charts so you can see your progress over time.
I love that it’s compatible with my iWatch!
Do you have your own list of daily habits? I’d love to hear what they are! And if you track them, how do you do it? I’m really enjoying the app so far and it actually helped get me off my booty and clean the kitchen last night!
Have a great day friends!