Last year, I took the decision to become a person of habits, to get closer to my personal goals. Here's a quick recap of what happened!
2019 was a year of transition for me. After a few years of missing my targets and just drifting from goal to goal with no direction whatsoever, I decided to break them into habits. I devised a set of actions I'd do every day, which would get me moving to my target, one step a day.
To do that, I downloaded Everyday, a habit-tracking app developed by my friend Joan Boixadós. Everyday is a pretty simple app which only does one thing, but it does it very well: it tracks things you do every day.
I defined a few things I wanted to do every day and set them in the app:
- Write a piece of content: Practice makes the master. A piece of content is a newsletter, a blog post, content for any of our websites, a well-rounded Twitter thread or a post on a forum, for instance. This habit would get me closer to being a good writer.
- Work out: By working out every day, this habit gets ingrained into your routine and your working schedule. I have been doing this for four years now.
- Read 30 minutes: To hit my goal of reading 32 books this year, I needed to read a bit every day. It's easy if you plan to do it before bed, for instance.
- Get rid of an object: I also have been doing this for years now. It helps to declutter your life.
- Read an article from Pocket: I have a bad habit of hoarding too many articles to read later. I wanted to declutter my life digitally, too.
- Push code to GitHub: I wanted to get back into coding. By pushing some code to GitHub every day, I wanted to get the mechanisms going.
- Write something on LinkedIn: To gain more visibility in business contexts, I wanted to appear every day on my contact's timeline.
- Walk 7km: This helps me to sleep better at night, and it has obvious health benefits.
- No alcohol: To cut down my drinking habits, I wanted to keep track of how many days I drink per year.
How to track your habits
Easy: Everyday offers a visual dashboard where you can click on every habit - if you've completed it - so you can input all your daily accomplishments.
I do this at the end of the day, before going to bed, and it provides a good feeling. Although I very rarely complete all of them on the same day, it helps to see that you're progressing on multiple fronts simulatenously.
Here's how my last week has been:
Each habit gets a row, and the app shows an indicator of streaks with the different gradients of colours.
As you can see, I haven't really kept up with the habit of reading an article from Pocket, or writing a piece of content, but I've pretty much worked out every day, or walked 7kms. Of course, during the X-mas break, being with family and having friends over, it's been challenging to do all of them.
Here's another week that looks better, from my holidays:
I travelled alone and spent three weeks doing a roadtrip around Greece. Since I decided what to do every day, it was easier for me to stick to my habits. Among other things, I was able to not drink alcohol for three weeks straight, I walked every day and was doing really good in every other habit.
How I completed mine
Let's break down my habits and see how I've performed!
Write a piece of content every day
This has been a challenging one. I originally intended to do it only during working days, but I got a good start at the beginning of the year and I decided to make it every day, also with personal stuff.
I curate two newsletters: the one for MarsBased and the Startup Grind one. I also blog relatively frequently and I work on the content/marketing side of my company, so it's been fairly easy to follow. At a certain point of the year, I had to delegate some of these tasks to another person in the company and therefore lost the habit, but managed to complete this task a total of 205 days, which is 56% of the days of the year. Putting out a piece of content every second day is good progress, for a new habit.
My longest streak has been of 14 consecutive days. Therefore, I'm happy with this new habit and will continue to improve it ✅
A few years ago, I decided to work out every day, a tradition I'm still keeping to this day. The benefits are countless, and even though some days are harder than others (after a big night out, long flights, all-day events, etc.)
By having the longest streak of 20 days and a total count of 270 days, I've managed to do it 78% of the days. I approve of this rating, although I'll try to up it this year ✅
Read 30 minutes
I usually read before bed, because it helps me to catch sleep. If for whatever reason I can't read before bed, I do it on the stationary bicycle at the gym or when travelling. I also read heaps when I'm on holidays, often completing a book every two days.
My kindle is one of my best friends now. I commit every year to a reading challenge on Goodreads. This year, I'm pledging to read 33 books, one more than I pledged last year.
By having the longest streak of 32 days and a total count of 314 days, I've managed to read pretty much every day of the year (86% of them!). Good numbers ✅ (although I'll work to get this number to as close to 100% as possible).
Get rid of an object
When I started my adventure into minimalism, I decided to do this every day. Here, I do a bit of cheating, because I spend a lot of time travelling, so I do this one in batches. When I clean at home, I get a bunch of items I want to get rid of and do it at once.
Read I’ve Been Getting Rid of an Object Every Day for 835 Days: My Journey into Minimalism, to learn more about this.
I've gotten rid of 314 objects this year, which adds up to an 86% completion rate, so I failed to do my 100%. This one was relatively easy and I will have to do better next year 💔
Read an article from Pocket
When Google decided to shut down Google Reader, I started uncontrollably hoarding up stuff on Pocket. Pocket is an app that lets you save stuff to read later, and I occasionally throw in other stuff that I want to check "someday" without a clear intention: travel destinations, blog posts, websites of interesting companies, books I need to buy, etc.
The result is: I never get back to these things.
I set up this habit because I wanted to declutter it and slowly overcome this digital Dyogenes Syndrome, but I've failed miserably.
I've only done this on 134 days (37% completion rate) although I started off with a good streak of 40 days. Will have to work on this one in 2020! 💔
Push code to GitHub
With so many things to do during the day, it is hard to work on code. I'm the CEO of our company, and therefore my time is best spent doing sales and meeting people. I haven't been able to code, and at most I've committed easy code like squashing small bugs, writing blog posts or changing small things on websites.
By doing the longest streak of 14 days and a total of 158 days, that's a poor 43% completion rate. No bueno 💔
Write something on LinkedIn
In order to gain more foothold within the business sector, I wanted to write every day something on LinkedIn. That something is a post, so commenting on other people's statuses doesn't count towards this goal.
Posts usually contain my blog posts, events we're organising, questions to the audience or informative messages (like when we announced that we passed the 1 million in revenue at MarsBased). It helps to stay top of the mind for a lot of people.
My longest streak of this habit has been 34 days, and I've completed it a total of 216 workdays (weekends don't count here), so I've had an 89% completion rate. Definitely good, for being the first year! ✅
This habit belongs to the category of health, and therefore I assigned a different colour (green) to it. Walking 7km can also be achieved when running, swimming or doing similar exercises that involve covering distances. Bicycle counts too, because what I wanted to track here is to do cardio every day.
With a staggering longest streak of 54 days and a total count of 333 days, I've completed this in 91% of the days of the year. Fucking A! ✅
I wanted to cut down on drinking this year, so I wanted to track this to see if it had any effect on the number of days I consumed alcohol. I had a good streak of 20 days during the holidays, and I did complete this successfully on 184 days this year, which is a 50%.
Definitely not good. Drinking every second day is something that needs to stop and will be one of my main goals this year 💔
Morale & lessons learnt
Tracking habits makes you more aware of your behaviours, and therefore is a good way to start to change for the better. On the flip side, I think I've lost track of the long-term goals by focusing too much on daily habits.
However, I deem this experiment to have been completely successful and look forward to keeping up with it to improve as a person.
Some things I learnt about myself by tracking habits:
- Days when I travel, I tend to skip most of the habits.
- When a habit is broken for two days straight, I struggle to get back to it.
- I've followed most of my newly-created habits and have done worse in the ones I've been doing for years.
- I tend to stick to my habits more if I'm on my own. If I'm staying at someone else's or travelling with someone, I will fail more often than not to follow most of the habits.
- As a fairly social person, unexpected meetings or events will sometimes have more priority than checking the habits.
- I rarely ever compromise having a fun time just to get my habits in place.
- It's alright to miss days. Don't push yourself too hard.
- Some habits can be done in batch if they make sense.
- Being too strict on the rules can lead to giving up.
- Conversely, being too loose feels like playing a videogame using cheats. A fair challenge is good for motivation.
- Looking at the dashboard in the morning sometimes helps me to plan for the habits.
PS: This is not a sponsored post. I'm just a happy user of Everyday!
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