Today I am updating on my progress in this area and sharing some of the lessons learnt so that you can start developing your habits too. I used an app to track my habits called 'Way of Life', this is a beautifully simple idea and not only helps track your progress but also motivates you to maintain your habits. I'd encourage you all to use it. I played around with my daily 10 for about 3-4 months before taking a few weeks off and then refining as I will discuss below.
The first thing to say is that in those 3-4 months I clocked up more steps, sleep, meditations, weights sessions and breathing practices than I ever had before. The system was hugely successful in helping me increase these daily practices and as a result of these I made some big breakthroughs which I can, at least in part, attribute to the system. The flip side of this was that having 10 items to tick off each day soon became a pressure of its own and on busy working days this wasn't always welcome. Going to bed feeling guilty that I hadn't got everything ticked off wasn't the feeling that I was looking to create through this.
When I revisited my habits list following my enforced break I tried to perform an 80/20 analysis and identify the core habits that had a tangible impact on my daily performance and weekly progress. I then looked at how I could make it easy for me to win with these every day. Whilst lowering the bar may seem counter intuitive it actually reduces any pressure around completing the tasks whilst also making it more likely that you'll commit to them and spend more time on them. For more on this check out the Tim Ferriss interview with Chase Jarvis by clicking here.
So this being said my 5 daily habits are now:
1. 8 hours in bed
You will notice a subtle change in language here. I've moved from 8 hours sleep to just 8 hours in bed. The reason being that insisting on 8 hours total sleep puts a pressure on getting to sleep quickly, this then has the complete opposite effect and makes it harder to sleep. Now I've removed that potential anxiety and just have to get into bed 8 hours before my alarm will go off to get the win. This has reduced my time to get to sleep significantly and therefore increased my total time sleeping.
This point hasn't changed because it is such an effective practice. I am a very erratic meditator but even after stringing just a few days together I can notice tangible effects in my calmness, clarity of thought and my ability to resist the never ending distractions of our modern world. Headspace and Calm are still my go to guided meditation apps for this.
I've simplified my podcast/TED talk point from before and created a wider category. All I demand of myself now is that I pick up something new every day. On a daily basis this seems fairly insignificant but if you can maintain this habit over weeks and months you'll be amazed at the difference it will make.
4. Movement practice
Again I've tried to make life easier for myself by rolling a lot of physical practices together into one category. This not only makes it easier to win but also gives me flexibility with my goals. For example if I am looking to add size through pre-season then I will lift heavy and want to minimise movement elsewhere. Having 10,000 steps on my habits list would therefore be self defeating. I include all weights, mobility, yoga and anything over 10,000 steps in this category.
This final category is an interesting one. I am constantly looking to build on my creativity as I rely on this in the day job to solve complex problems. I believe that creativity is largely a skill and by having a daily habit of creating something forces me to be creative on tap rather than just waiting for the muse to strike. This making could be writing a blog post, delivering a presentation or building something at home. All that matters is that I am creating something. The play aspect links in to this as a large part of creativity comes from thinking outside the box and essentially being silly. Basic play, whether that be creating my own game to amuse myself with or just running around with a friends dog can all add in to your creative ability, even if it doesn't seem like it at the time.
I hope you've found this quick run through useful. I'd encourage you to take a step back and consider what daily habits will make you effective and move you in the right direction and then start to track these. I'd love to hear of any you find useful that I haven't covered myself.