Self Improvement

10 Life-Changing Mini Habits to Get Back on Track This Year

Mihir Patkar 10-05-2016

As we come to the middle of the year, how are you doing on your new year’s resolutions? With only 8% of people achieving their resolutions, it’s safe to say many of us have given up on our goals.


Here’s the good news: You can get back on track and it’s super easy.

Resolutions fail due to various reasons 5 Mistakes That Make You Quit Your New Year's Resolutions How tough is your struggle with New Year's Resolutions? If you are on a never-ending cycle of quitting on your goals every time, these tips should be motivating for the year ahead. Read More , but we tend to assume that failure means it’s over. Instead, a healthier approach is to adopt Stephen Guise’s philosophy of Mini Habits. It’s a simple way to improve yourself without the pressure of resolutions weighing you down or making you feel bad about yourself.

Why Mini Habits Are Better

A new year’s resolution is overwhelming. Your mind will plot out a huge goal spanning across an entire year, with all the many milestones you will need to hit. Once your initial excitement subsides, it’s daunting.

Mini habits, on the other hand, fit into your life as it is now. As you can see in the talk above by BJ Fogg of the Persuasive Tech Lab at Stanford University, researchers have found that one of the most efficient ways to build a new habit is to stack it on top of an existing one.

A popular example of this is that if you want to make flossing your teeth a habit, then do it every time you’re answering nature’s call. Hey, you’re in the bathroom, you’re not using your hands, might as well get this little task done!


Done consistently over a long time, these mini habits can spark massive personal change How to Use Micro Habits and Spark Massive Personal Change Creating new habits is hard. Habits are usually built over weeks or months of repetition, and motivation is the challenge. When the going gets tough, micro-habits can be a huge help. Read More . But before you start, it’ll be helpful to know a few simple requirements for what constitutes a mini habit:

  1. Reduce resistance to a minimum. If a mini habit requires you to do several steps, it might not be the right one. It should be easy to take action. It’s the tipping point of behavior change.
  2. It shouldn’t require you to exercise willpower. The willpower muscle takes time to build How to Work The Willpower Muscle Some people don't have the willpower problem. What makes those productive people different? As it turns out, there's plenty of research on the subject, and the answer turns out to be pretty simple Read More , so don’t try to do that while inculcating a new habit. Just make sure your new regular task is something you will do happily and naturally, without complaining.
  3. Start as small as possible. Want to get into the habit of working out every day? Just do one pushup daily. Just one. Nothing more. And then build on it. The one-pushup challenge has shown how small habits can lead to large changes.

Like with any habit you are trying to inculcate, technology can lend a hand and make things easier for you. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular new year resolutions Make Your New Year Resolutions Work with 9+ Super Tools Every year we need a few fantastic websites and resources in our quest to make a better self. For every new year resolution, you can find an online tool to guide you. We recommend some. Read More and how you can achieve them with mini habits.

Exercise Regularly

The 7-minute workout is of the most popular Internet exercise regimens, with a whole bunch of YouTube videos about it Use Free 7 Minute Workout Videos To Get Into Shape [Stuff to Watch] There are lots of YouTube videos that can show you exactly how your workouts should be going, and they won't cost you a penny. Read More . As a mini habit, it’s a great place to start exercising regularly. It has two unique features that make it easy:

  1. You don’t need any equipment and…
  2. You’re done in just seven minutes.



The New York Times’ 7-minute workout app is the best app for this. It’s a web-based app that works perfectly on desktop or mobile. It’s well designed and demonstrates each exercise, along with a colorful countdown timer and an instructor that tells you what to do.

If the 7-minute workout isn’t for you, maybe you should take the Hundred Push-ups challenge, which starts you off slowly and in two months, will build you to a point where you can do 100 push-ups without stopping. Before you begin though, make sure you take the test and follow instructions.

Set a Positive Password

It might sound silly, but the password you enter daily can change your life. Mauricio Estrella found this through a simple experiment when he was going through a rough divorce. He wrote about his experiences on Medium, noting how positive passwords like “Forgive her” and “Quit Smoking” led to dramatic positive lifestyle changes.



You should still make a secure, unbreakable password 6 Tips For Creating An Unbreakable Password That You Can Remember If your passwords are not unique and unbreakable, you might as well open the front door and invite the robbers in for lunch. Read More , but do it in a way where its message is a positive change that you want to bring about. Ideally, use this as a password for something you access every day, like your email or your Facebook account.

Ditch Facebook and Be Positive

Speaking of Facebook, it’s well documented at this point that Facebook can make you sad Facebook Makes You Sad, and "It Won't Happen to Me" is a Lie Facebook's potential as a trigger for depressive symptoms has been talked about in the past too, but this year has seen more of such studies than before. Here's what they say. Read More . The social network is a highlights reel of everyone’s best moments, and when you compare that to your larger life, the unfair comparison can make you feel low. It might be wise to ditch Facebook for a more positive influence, at least on your computer.


Simple extensions like Switcheroo Redirector for Chrome or Redirector for Firefox can be set to automatically go to one of the kindest communities on Reddit The Kindest Communities on Reddit There are a lot of really great people on Reddit – here's where you can find them. Read More like r/UpliftingNews or r/RandomKindness. The point is to avoid social network’s negative impact and turn your existing bad habit into a positive mini habit. Over time, you’ll find yourself wanting to check out these uplifting forums instead of your vapid Facebook timeline.


Drink More Water

When MakeUseOf’s own Matthew Hughes quit caffeine and increased his productivity How Quitting Caffeine Made Me More Productive Giving up coffee is something that, for a lot of people, is simply not done. If you overdo it, it could be the best health decision you ever make. Read More , he made a smart move by replacing addictive coffee with a pint of water — no more, no less, every hour on the dot. If you aren’t getting the daily intake of water you should, then it’s time to make that change.


Like Matthew, it’s advisable to get a few one-pint bottles and fill them up before you start working. Set an alarm for every hour, or set up a Pomodoro timer How a Simple Pomodoro Timer Made My Life Better The Pomodoro Technique is one of the simpler time management life hacks. Break through distractions with the help of 25-minute chunks and a timer. It could be a life-changing routine change if it suits you. Read More , and drink water in every break. You can also track how much water you drink on your Android smartphone Make Sure You Drink Enough Water With These Free Apps [Android] It is easy to forget to drink enough, especially in winter time, and especially if you’re not very physically active. But it is important to take in enough water, both for weight loss and just... Read More .

Wake Up Early Gradually

You know what? Every geek should be a morning person Why Every Geek Should Be a Morning Person You may be a night owl who wishes to wake up early. Every geek can be a morning person with little habit changes and a set morning routine. Read More . But waking up early isn’t easy for everyone. So we have various yawn-stifling alarms to get out of bed 4 Yawn-Stifling Alarm Apps to Make Sure You Get Up in the Morning Tired of waking up late, struggling to pull out of bed every morning? You aren't alone. Read More , but a drastic change in schedule can be hard. Instead, make it a mini habit and ease yourself in.


Try something as simple as setting your alarm one minute earlier every week. So if you’re an 8 am riser and want to get to 7 am, start with 7:59 am for the first week. Then go back one more minute to 7:58 am for the second week. Make it easy on yourself, sleep in on weekends. By the end of the year, you’ll be at 7:08 am. And in another two months, you’ll be waking up at 7 am without feeling like it’s a drastic change.

Read More with “7-Page Week”

Everyone wants to make reading a habit, but we don’t seem to be able to find the time to do it. Well, here’s an easy mini habit to help you start reading more. I call it the “7-page week”.

Every Monday, read one page of a book. On Tuesday, continue and read two pages of that book. Three on Wednesday, four on Thursday, five on Friday, six on Saturday, and seven on Sunday. Then go back to just one page of the same book on Monday. Keep up this cycle till you finish the book.


With this, you are making it easy to read on work days, and building momentum towards the weekend when you can relax and read more pages at your own pace. Just like all those surprisingly simple time hacks to read more books 10 Surprisingly Simple Time Hacks For Reading More Every Day There is just too much to read, and so little time. Their is just one obvious antidote against all excuses – you have to make time to read. The gold-plated question is how. Read More , this works best if you have a Kindle or use the Kindle app, since it will automatically save your last position and you can read it on any device, anywhere, anytime. Remember, a mini habit is most effective when you reduce resistance!

Start Writing Regularly

Everyone thinks they have a novel in them. And they start out strong, banging out on the keyboard with great enthusiasm. Slowly but surely, the inspirational flame starts to flicker and the momentum dies out. Don’t let it happen to you and take your book from idea to final draft From Idea to Final Draft: How to Increase Your Writing Productivity You don't have to be Stephen King to be a productive writer. Using the right applications and writing tips, you can get more writing done with less frustration, and finish what you start. Read More .


The best app for this is 750 Words. Sign up for the free service and you will be part of a community that eggs each other on to write 750 words a day, and which also gives you a large database of your own statistics and emotions when you write regularly. We’ve reviewed 750 Words in detail How To Inspire Yourself To Write At Least 750 Words Per Day Read More before, in case you need to know more about it. Just remember, 750 words is roughly three pages of a book, so this simple mini habit can get you going to finally publishing that novel!

Learn to Enjoy Life and Be Grateful

Complaints come easy, but being thankful is difficult. Gratitude isn’t inherent for many of us. It needs to be reflected upon, and appreciated through practice. Mindful meditation can help in learning this.


We’ve tried several mindful meditation apps 6 Mindful Meditation Apps That Will Improve Your Life Living a more mindful live through meditation can have amazing positive effects. Give it a try with these apps. Read More so far, but Stop, Breathe, and Think is still the absolute best. It’s completely free, it lets you set the time limit and the type of meditation you want, guides you through the entire exercise, and is available on all platforms. Its ubiquitous nature actually makes it easy to meditate anywhere, anytime without spending a dime Learn Meditation On Any Device & Don't Spend A Dime Contrary to popular opinion, you can meditate without a yoga mat, religious guidance, a peaceful personal space, incense candles, and any other apparatus. Here's a simple tool to help you begin. Read More .

Visualize Debt Before Buying

Saving money is one of the most popular resolutions every year, but also one that most people fail at. The culprit usually is mindless spending. The simplest trick to stop that, which most personal finance experts recommend, is to look at your debt before you buy anything. Sounds simple, right? Well it is, but you have to do it religiously.


Mini habits are all about making it resistance-free to do the habit, so get an app to visualize your debt in charts or graphs How to Visualize Your Debt & Stay Motivated While Paying It Off It's tough to stay motivated to keep paying off your debt, but visualizing it can make the process easier. Read More , and make sure it works well on your smartphone. From there, it’s all about simple discipline. Before you tap “Buy” on Amazon or reach the checkout counter at the supermarket, fire up that app and see your debt progress. Chances are, that constant reminder will make you rethink the value of what you’re about to buy.

Organize One Thing Every Week

Over 18% of people list “getting organized” as their new year’s resolution. It could be tech, it could be non-tech, but just adopt the mini habit of tidying up and streamlining one thing every week. Soon you’ll have a less disruptive life.


You probably want to start small, so go with something like de-cluttering and controlling your Windows desktop How to Clean Up Your Windows Desktop Once and For All Do you look at your Windows desktop and wonder how to clean it up? Here are some decluttering tips that can make you productive. Read More , or even your physical one! Maybe set up a note-taking app like Evernote or OneNote Evernote vs. OneNote: Which Note-Taking App Is Right for You? Evernote and OneNote are amazing note-taking apps. It's hard to pick between the two. We compared everything from interface to note organization to help you choose. What works best for you? Read More to organize your various thoughts and projects. Heck, you could plan an entire year on Google Calendar How to Plan an Entire Year on Google Calendar A year is a lot of time to meet your goals. Google Calendar can be the master planning tool for an entire year. These time management tips show you how. Read More . Just one item a week, simple as that!

Give Us Your Mini Habit Ideas

Stephen Guise, who literally wrote the book on Mini Habits, has a large list of mini habit ideas that you can look at to be inspired into bettering your life.

In your tech life, what mini habit have you incorporated to become a better version of yourself? Give us your successful examples, or tell us about the mini habits you would like to start.

Image Credit: Career and growth by Ingka D. Jiw via Shutterstock

Related topics: Habits, Productivity.

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  1. Elaine
    May 28, 2016 at 9:06 am

    Get rid of three things everyday. They can be clothes, paper, whatever, but get three things out of your house.

    Now, if I would only follow my own advice.