I have been trying to shake up my old routine and pick up a few good habits that would help me improve my lifestyle and become a better person. Sounds easy, but I soon found out that I didn’t know how to go about it. Around a month ago, I was all over the place – mentally, emotionally and physically – as I was trying to add in all the new things to my life.
I took my ipad with me everywhere I went and read in between meetings or when I was in the loo. I subscribed 20+ blogs/newsletters/sites to keep up-to-date with trends and news. I started listening to podcasts all the time. I checked Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram constantly to see what people are up to or to see if they have posted articles that are worth reading. All in all, I was trying to absorb new information every waking moment of my life. I did not have a system, nothing was organized and after a few days, I started to get extremely overwhelmed and anxious. My head started to hurt and I was having a mental break down because I couldn’t cope with the amount of information that I was forcing myself to take in. There was no strategy whatsoever to screen whether those articles and blogs were of interest to me, worth my time or of any use. I just read. Period. I was so caught up on the idea of “I have to expand my knowledge in order to be interesting” that I have neglected the fact that I wasn’t retaining anything. I just felt there wasn’t enough time in a day for me to churn through all these updates! I was going mad… and was highly medicated due to having the mumps (!!).
This had to stop. I was losing sleep because my brain would not turn off at night. You would think I would be able to realize what I was doing was NOT the way to go. I was reading all these articles about forming routines, having a plan, be systematic, have focus and all these awesome habits that highly intellectual, cultured and successful people have. Yet, none of it kicked in at all! I just panicked and my inner voice said to me that I will never be able to catch up and be one of those people.
I don’t know what the trigger was, but I just knew things need to change.
I started to wake up at 7:30am – instead of my usual 8:30am – and that was when I stumbled upon “BeTweet” , great blog on Medium. After reading one of their articles “The Amazing Power of Books, Routines and Small Wins”, I now have a better idea on what I need to do to form new habits that will lead to positive change and productivity.
“What we do without thinking is normally the source of every daily win and every daily loss we experience. So much so, our habits govern our lives”.
After the first day of waking up an hour earlier, I found that I really enjoyed my alone and quiet time in the morning. Eating breakfast by myself, having the proper time to scan through articles and blogs and reading what I wanted to read are very enjoyable and relaxing to me. Yes, I was a bit more tired in the afternoon, but I felt that it was my time where no one else can be a part of it. (and it helped with my sleeping problem as well because I was very sleepy by 10:30pm and went to sleep with no trouble). I was at ease and happy before work. That’s very important.
On the second day, I got a notebook and started to write down topics and ideas that I found interesting and inspiring during my morning read. These are bits of information and quotes that I can ponder about later on and spin into something else, I thought. And that was when it hit me. Why don’t I start writing again? I have had blogs in the past but was never able to keep up with the writing. I only wrote when I felt like I have something interesting to say. And there lied the problem – I didn’t think what I was experiencing were interesting at all compared to what other people have to say. I did not understand that writing is a way for me to express myself and is not for others. Also, the idea of having to finish a post per seating was a terrible mindset. It made writing tedious and hard because I thought if I didn’t finish a the post a day, I was a bad writer and not creative.
I have read countless times that in order to establish writing as a habit, you have to write every single day. It should be something that you automatically do, just like you would brush your teeth every day (I hope). Yet I’ve never done it because I have convinced myself that I don’t have the time for it. My previous perception on writing (tedious and hard) had made me associate writing to be a long and time consuming process.
Again, a change needs to be made.
I spent time setting up this Word Press account and started to carve out 45 mins during my lunch break to write. When the 45 minutes is up, I would stop regardless of whether I have finished the post. And I feel totally ok about it. I don’t feel rushed and I like building on a post a little a day, until I have got something exactly the way I want it.
Just a small decision to wake up an hour earlier have resulted in two new routines for me – an hour and a half of undisturbed reading time before work and a 45 minute writing time during lunch break. I feel great afterwards – satisfied with myself and I actually retained information that I have read without getting a headache. These are small wins for me. Routines turned into daily habits when positive rewards are associated with them.
So don’t set unrealistic tasks for yourself and assume that you will follow through and turn them into habits. Humans don’t work that way. We are lazy @sses who always rationalize ourselves out of things we find hard or don’t want to do.
Waking up an hour earlier and writing for 45 mins are things I can do and they are realistic goals for me. I have increased my productivity, my knowledge and I have time to hone my writing skills everyday.
Definitely worth a shot. Start small and something big will come along.