My Habit Hacks

habits health life balance Feb 20, 2023
Charis Santillie holding and looking at Heidi
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🎧 👉 Prefer audio? You can also listen to me share about this in podcast episode #044 here.

Today, I’m going to share with you what I have done as hacks to support myself in developing new habits.

First of all, let me just say that if left to my own devices, I won’t remember to do new things that I’m not already in the habit of doing. And even for many things that have probably become new habits because I’ve done them repeatedly enough, I don’t usually rely on myself to remember to do them. 

And I know this isn’t just me. There’s part of our brain that literally does not want us to change because it’s way easier to stay the course with whatever our current life is like—autopilot is easier because we know what to expect. For one area of the brain, this seems safest for us.

But that doesn’t mean we like our life as it is, so how do we develop and stick with new habits? 

We hack ‘em! 

Here are some examples from my own life of things I do to support myself.

If something isn’t right in front of me, and it isn’t a daily thing for me, I tend to forget it. So, for example, laundry. I do laundry maybe once every 1-2 weeks, basically when either my bin gets full or I’m about to run out of underwear. I used to have a habit of starting a load in the washer and totally forgetting about it and then having to wash it again because it sat too long. My hack is that I put a sticky note that says “laundry” up on my bathroom mirror. I even have a note I reuse for this purpose, and when I’m not using it, I stick it in my cabinet. This not only helps me not fall into my old habit of forgetting about it, but it also reduces my stress because it is a system that really works for me, so I get to trust the reminder and not try to remember it on my own.

I also rely on silent alarms on my phone for various things. I have a set reminder late afternoon on weekdays to prompt me to see if there’s anything I need to prep for dinner. I don’t need to do that every night because we do a lot of prepping over the weekend, especially since my husband does a lot of meal prepping. But if I don’t have the reminder, I will totally carry on with my day and forget until it is too late. And since I benefit greatly from going to bed early, cooking late is not a good thing for me, plus I literally don’t have the brain power to cook late.

Another thing I use silent phone alarms for is taking my allergy antigens twice a day. Even though I’ve taken them for many years, I still need alarms to remember to take them, and the truth is that sometimes I still forget because I need to get them from the fridge, and I have to put a drop from one bottle under my tongue for 30 seconds, then wait 1 minute then do a drop from another bottle for 30 seconds, then wait 5 minutes before I drink or eat anything. And because it’s a process, it truly doesn’t always happen twice a day, but it happens a lot more with my reminder system.

I’ll also put repeating reminders in my calendar for things like putting the garbage cans out and bringing them in. That may sound silly, but it totally helps me and frees up space in my brain to try to remember. 

And I’ll set reminders in my calendar for prepping our gym on days Don works. That way, it is ready to go for us when he gets home. The lights are on, the music is queued up, the TV is on the tennis station, and it’s inviting us in to get our workouts done.

My husband got us in the habit of having a glass of water ready to go on the kitchen counter. And after we drink it, to immediately refill it. If it’s already full and sitting there, we are more likely to drink it.

So do you notice a theme with all of these examples? They all involve planning ahead and setting up some kind of reminder. I find it is a total stress reliever and a huge support to me to do this. And the best part? It works!

Think of something right now that you know you want to change and be consistent with; what kind of reminder can you set up so that you are prompted to do it? And consider the time of day, too—set yourself up for success and work with yourself, not against yourself here.

“Healthy habits are learned in the same way as unhealthy ones – through practice.” 

– Wayne Dyer

🎧 👉 Prefer audio? You can also listen to me share about this in podcast episode #044 here.

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