3 Tiny Ways You Can Massively Upgrade Your Daily Routine

The Pursuit Of Happiness
The Pursuit Of Happiness

Since enrolling on B.J. Fogg’s Tiny Habits course last year, I’ve learned a lot of new behaviours.

Some have been more transformative than others, but today, I want to share with you three Tiny Habits that have yielded the highest returns on investment for me.

Before I do, lets look at what a Tiny Habit is and why they’re so much fun to form.

The Rules:

For those of you who are playing at home, here are the rules.

Rule #1: A Tiny Habit, according to Fogg, is a behaviour:

You do at least once a day

That takes you less than 30 seconds

That requires little effort

Tiny Habits must match the criteria above because the easier the behaviour, the less it depends on motivation. [1]

Rule #2: Tiny Habits are designed to come immediately after an existing habit. Simple: You use the existing habit to trigger the new tiny behaviour you want. [2]

Now you know Fogg’s rules, lets look at each Tiny Habit in detail.

Tiny Habit #1: Make Your Bed Immediately After Waking Up

On May 16, 2014, U.S. Navy Admiral William H. McCraven, the commander of the forces that organized the raid to kill Osama bin Laden, addressed a room full of wide-eyed graduates at The University of Texas.

“If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed”, McCraven told the attendees.

He said:

If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. And by the end of the day that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that the little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right. And if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made — that you made. And a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better. [3]

This, for me, was an existing Tiny Habit; like most people, I had always made my bed, but I had never done immediately after waking up – or with purpose.

I’ve found making my bed immediately after waking up jump-starts the rest of my morning routine.

And while I used to rely on random cues for my morning habits, now I have a stable routine stack where each behaviour is triggered by the one that preceded it.

I wake up, immediately make my bed, shower, stretch, meditate and journal – all before turning on my laptop.    

Tiny Habit #2: Review Your Day

In his autobiography, Benjamin Franklin famously outlined a scheme to achieve “moral perfect”. His schedule included asking himself every night, before going to bed, “What good have I done today?”

As I wrote on Monday, The Five Minute Journal has three morning questions and two evening questions. The evening questions, similar to Franklin’s Evening Question, invite you to ask yourself: 

What are three amazing things that happened today?

How could I have made today better?

Journaling in the morning and especially in the evening has helped me examine my day with clarity. I can celebrate wins, identify obstacles and strategise how to overcome them.

One obstacle I overcame from journaling was brainstorming reasons why I was having trouble falling asleep at night. This led me to my third and final Tiny Habit . . .

Tiny Habit #3: Leave Your Mobile Phone Outside Your Bedroom

Do you take your mobile phone to bed? According to Pew Research, 90% of 18-29 year olds sleep with their mobile on or next to their bed. [4]

I was one of them; that is until I had one too many sleepless nights and did some research.

One study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, asked 12 patients to read on an iPad for four hours before bedtime each night for five consecutive nights. This was repeated with printed books. For some, the order was reversed: They started with printed books and moved to iPads. [5]

The researchers found the iPad readers took longer to fall asleep, felt less tired at night and had shorter REM sleep compared to the book readers.

The reason? The light emitted from electronic devices like mobile phones suppresses melatonin: the chemical that controls your body clock.

I’ve been leaving my mobile phone outside my bedroom for eight days now and it’s already paid dividends. I’ve been falling asleep earlier, waking up more easily and feeling more productive.

If you want to engineer the perfect night’s sleep, buy an old fashioned alarm clock and leave your mobile phone outside your bedroom. 

You won’t regret it.

In Closing

“Simplicity changes behaviours”, writes Fogg. And he’s right. Behaviours that are ridiculously simple are not only easy to sustain, but easy to expand on.

Forming Tiny Habits like practicing gratitude and cultivating a growth mindset, chalk up wins and remind you if you can change one behaviour, you can change many.    

What’s one Tiny Habit you’re forming? Tweet me your answer @SamThomasDavies. Thought Catalog Logo Mark


[1], [2] Fogg, B.J. (2015) Tiny Habits, Available at: http://tinyhabits.com/ (Accessed: 18 February 2015).

[3] Texas Exes (2014) University of Texas at Austin 2014 Commencement Address – Admiral William H. McRaven, Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxBQLFLei70 (Accessed: February 18 2015).

[4] Lenhart, A. (2010) Cell phones and American adults, Available at: http://www.pewinternet.org/2010/09/02/cell-phones-and-american-adults/ (Accessed: February 18 2015).

[5] Chang A.M., Aeschbach D., Duffy J.F. and Czeisler C.A. (2015) ‘Evening use of light-emitting eReaders negatively affects sleep, circadian timing, and next-morning alertness’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(4), pp. 1232-7.

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