If you're anything like me, you might find implementing new habits into your daily life to be a massive struggle. I'm such a creature of habit, so trying to get myself to consistently do something new can be very difficult. The phrase "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" resonates with me on a personal level. But sometimes I find myself in a position where I really need to get my act together and figure out how to incorporate a new routine or habit.
There are a lot of reasons why you might be looking for new ways to start doing things. Maybe the old routine is just not working out anymore, or maybe it's time for some change in your life. If you want to start a new routine, but don't know how, you're not alone. It's hard to take the first step and it can be difficult to stick with something in the beginning phases.
One of my favorite tricks I play with my brain is telling myself, "All I have to do right now is _________." And I break the seemingly insurmountable task into smaller, more manageable tasks. Playing this mental game for every little thing can get exhausting, but the concept stands.
In this blog post, we're going to talk about how you can get started on your newest routine.
Here are 7 tips for starting a new routine:
- Figure out your new routine
- Start with the most difficult task first and work your way down
- Set a timer to help you stay focused on one task at a time
- Reward yourself for completing tasks – my favorite!
- Stick to the same routine every day, including weekends
- Put reminders in places where they are easy for you to see
- Stay consistent!
Figuring out your new routine
First you need to decide what your plan will be. Do you want to go running or lift weights? This is the first step in deciding on a new routine. If you feel like you're in a rut and need a change but don't know what, or if you know that you need to change something but aren't sure exactly how to do it, the first thing you need to do is narrow your ideas down to one objective. Don't worry about the step-by-step of how to do it yet, just decide on what you want your new routine to be.
Start with the most difficult task first and work your way down
I think most people have seen the object lesson where the teacher has a jar that they need to fill with rocks, stones, and pebbles of all different sizes. When starting with the tiny pebbles and working up to the bigger rocks, the jar always gets full before many of the rocks can fit. But starting with the rocks allows the smaller stones and pebbles to fill in the cracks and more overall can fit in the jar. The same is with organizing our lives. To be most productive and efficient, we must start with the big and difficult tasks so those are done and out of the way when we start working on the smaller, less pressing tasks.
Starting with the difficult tasks also eliminates procrastination. Even if we dread them, if we can get them out of the way early, we can often cruise through the easy stuff. This tactic allows you to take care of an important item early on, while you still have energy for more complex tasks without feeling overwhelmed by your workload later on in the day or week.
Set a timer to help you stay focused on one task at a time
When you need to get things done at work, it's important that you stay focused. And what better way than with a timer? Set your phone for 30 minutes (or even 15) and then go ahead and start working on an assignment! If you're doing well after the time is up, set another one according to how much more of your task remains.
How many times have you stared at the clock, feeling like your work will never be done? Sometimes it's hard to stay focused on one task when there are so many things that need attention. When productivity starts declining and deadlines start looming closer, set a timer! This is an easy way to keep track of how much time has elapsed since starting something new, without having to look away from what needs doing now.
Reward yourself for completing tasks
Even if it's just with something small like watching an episode of your favorite show or taking a break from whatever you're doing. This can work wonders for making a task seem less daunting.
In college, I would sometimes set an M&M on each paragraph of the textbook chapter I was reading. Then I would reward myself with a bit of chocolate for each paragraph I read! Even small, silly rewards can be just enough to motivate and encourage productivity.
You could also reward yourself with getting up and walking around for a few minutes before returning to your desk; go out to dinner or make your favorite food at home for a successful day of sticking to your new routine; or whatever you need!
Stick to the same routine every day, including weekends
This will make it easier to transition into the habit because you'll know what to expect each day.
It's easy to take a break and relax during the weekends, but make sure every weekend is accounted for with either plans beforehand or a routine set out. You'll be able to transition much easier into habit if there are no surprises each day, because you know what will happen next!
A good example of this is staying up late on the weekends and trying to compensate during the week. But keeping the same schedule all week allows your body to adjust to the new routine and will therefore be more beneficial in the long run.
Put reminders in places where they are easy for you to see
This way, there is no excuse not to do them. Put sticky notes on the bathroom mirror, computer desktop, phone home screen; set alarms on your phone; and so forth. These are ways of externalizing our goals in order to keep them top of mind.
This will help your brain remember the task much easier and quicker than if it were buried deep inside a never-ending list of things to do, or on another page with tiny fonts that are difficult for someone like me who has vision issues (like poor eyesight) to read without squinting painfully.
It takes about 21 days before habits become automatic and we stop having as much difficulty sticking with them. Once this happens, we can start adding other things into our routines (for example, exercise) without feeling overwhelmed by change.
Starting a new routine is difficult for most people. In the beginning, it can be hard to stick with a new routine. However, if you stay consistent and keep working at it, you will most likely see some results from your efforts. It might take longer or shorter than anticipated for things to change in life depending upon how well you're able to make these changes last, but don't give up just because of that! Start by making small changes so they become habits before tackling something bigger later down the line.