I’ve noticed that I haven’t been taking good care of myself, haven’t been kind to myself and have generally neglected my mental, physical and spiritual health – especially in the last 6 months of this year. I did this because I was single-minded about prioritising work above everything else. I let my good habits fall off my daily schedule out of laziness and a lack of commitment to my own health.
So, in the spirit of taking better care of myself and making tangible progress in the self-development area of my life, these are the 18 habits I’d like to develop over the following year.
2018 Habits #1: Wake up and get up at 5:30am
My husband wakes up and gets up before me, gets ready for work and heads out the door often before I’ve done anything productive for the day. Because I go to bed and to sleep too late (more on that later), I wake up a bit later than he does and feel like I’m constantly in “catch-up mode” during the day. To give myself more space in my daily schedule, I think that waking up and getting out of bed earlier would be a good start.
2018 Habits #2: Drink water first thing in the morning
I drink a decent amount of water during the day, but most of that is consumed while I’m at my desk. I know that I’m not drinking as much water as is recommended by popular science. This is why I’d like to drink a big glass just after getting out of bed. I’ve read that doing this will help me feel more energetic – so I’m in!
2018 Habits #3: Meditate in the mornings
I used to have a regular meditation practice, and then I started neglecting it and myself. I prioritised my work over my mental health, and I stopped getting up early enough to meditate before starting work (because I went to bed too late and didn’t get enough sleep the night before). So, I’m pushing myself to meditate even though I may not feel like doing it some mornings. I know that I’ll feel better after having done it, and the long-term reward is so worth the minor inconvenience and discomfort of sitting on a hard floor before I’m compos mentis.
2018 Habits #4: Practice yoga 3 times a week
I used to practice 4-5 times a week, but fell out of the habit when I stopped going to my local yoga studio (because the studio owner stopped offering classes in the mornings, and I can only attend classes in the mornings – evenings are for going to gym). But I have an available space to roll out a yoga mat, so all I need to do is make the time in the mornings to do it. The plan is to do yoga after the abovementioned meditation.
2018 Habits #5: Don’t go to the computer immediately after getting out of bed
This year, I fell into the habit of going directly to my desk after waking up and getting dressed. This is because I felt a sense of urgency around the work I needed to get done. I wanted to get an hour (often 2 hours) of work in before breakfast. What then happened is that I shifted my breakfast time later, and my lunch time became later. Keeping irregular meal times isn’t healthy, so that must stop, and all it takes to stop that is not sitting at my desk first thing in the morning.
2018 Habits #6: Make breakfast before starting work
This is connected to my previous habit. After meditating and doing yoga, it’s important that I make breakfast, otherwise I just put it off for hours and end up eating breakfast for lunch. Breakfast is more important than work, and I need to keep reminding myself that it’s more important to look after myself first, and then I can look after my work.
2018 Habits #7: Do one thing at a time
During most days, I have 30 browser tabs open, with a long to-do list, and my planner open next to me. I’ve got many things on my mind and I have a brain-dump list open in a notebook as well. It’s just too much stuff open on my computer and desk, and it serves as a distraction. If I’m working on one thing, I’m thinking about something else, and I feel that I need to put it on a list otherwise it will disappear.
I need to learn to tackle one thing at a time, and have one project open on my computer at a time. The brain-dump list works well, but I should write all the things down, then close the book without dwelling on what I’ve written down, or dwelling on the other things on my list.
2018 Habits #8: Take a lunch break and walk around outside
We are very lucky to have a garden with flowers and plants that thrive. I don’t make time to enjoy it, and merely sit inside at my desk during my lunch breaks. I sometimes don’t eat lunch. Instead, I stop what I’m working on, save my progress, and pick up my diary and/or to-do list. Then I ponder and mull over and generally feel crummy about the long list of things I’m not getting to. That makes me feel that I need to make progress urgently on another project, so I spend the afternoon working on the other project instead of what I was working on before lunch.
If I just took a walk outside and didn’t pick up my to-do list, I wouldn’t be distracted, and I’d get some fresh air. Both of which would do my mental and spiritual health the world of good.
2018 Habits #9: Get off the computer an hour before bedtime
Sometimes I work in the evenings, and this obviously negatively affects my sleep. So, I’m making a promise to myself to end the screen time an hour or more before my bedtime.
2018 Habits #10: Don’t watch YouTube videos in bed
I’ve developed the bad habit of reaching for my phone in the evenings and catching up on the newest videos published by the channels I subscribe to. One 10-minute video turns into an 18-minute video turns into a 25-minute video and 2 hours later I’m still watching videos and it’s midnight. And I need to get up in 5 or 6 hours and I know that I’ve ruined my body’s natural rhythms. I’ve then also messed up the following day’s working hours. But I know that I’ll push past that feeling of tiredness to carry on working anyway. Many days, weeks and months of that tends to have a nasty effect on mental health. I’d make my working days so much easier if I didn’t spend 2 hours each night on YouTube.
2018 Habits #11: Get 7-8 hours of sleep every night
I often don’t get enough sleep because I spend 2+ hours in the evenings watching YouTube videos on my phone. This is obviously connected to my previous habit. By leaving my phone in my office when I shut down for the day, the temptation is far less to reach over and watch a video when I can’t sleep. I think this will improve the quantity and quality of my sleep.
2018 Habits #12: Take Sundays off
I’ve worked on almost every Sunday this year. I’ve also worked on almost every Saturday this year. And I’ve just tolerated doing it. That’s because it’s too easy to walk past my office and be drawn to sitting at the computer and tinkering away at projects or blog posts or another item on my to-do list. I need to be stricter with myself and discipline myself not to walk into my office, because it’s a slippery slope from walking into my office to spending 5 hours behind the screen working on something that could have waited until Monday.
2018 Habits #13: Practice Gratitude
I have a shelf full of empty notebooks. I am going to use one of these to write down 3 things I’m grateful for every day. It will be lovely to look back through the book in 3 months, 6 months and a year later and refresh my perspective on all the fantastic things that are already happening in my life.
2018 Habits #14: Use a face mask twice a week
Something I don’t share online is that I’m low-key obsessed with trying out face masks. Problem is, I buy these things and then don’t make the time to use them. I think “I’m too tired/lazy to do it now, and I want to make tea, and it’s awkward to drink tea with a face mask on”. So, the goal is to prep for bed, make tea, put it on my face, and let it work its magic while my tea cools to drinking temperature, rinse off mask, drink tea, brush teeth, go to bed. Doable.
2018 Habits #15: Have fruit after dinner instead of a piece of chocolate
After dinner, hubby and I have fallen into the habit of craving something sweet. I usually give in and get chocolate or biscuits out of the grocery cupboard. I’d like to slow down on the cookies and chocolates and treats. I’ve resolved to having an apple and a glass of water after dinner instead of a block of chocolate. This may be one of the more difficult habits to change, but it’s better for my skin and overall health.
2018 Habits #16: Don’t overthink things
I’ve noticed that I tend to overthink what I want to do, and then overthink things as I’m doing them. I’ve ended up talking myself out of doing things before I’ve even tried. The solution here is to act without giving myself time to think about the “what if” potential situations.
2018 Habits #17: Get 1% better
Pushing yourself to learn a huge lot of things, or improve your work drastically is rarely a sustainable approach. It often leads you to feel overwhelmed, lost and burnt out. To combat this, I’ve promised myself that I’d learn to improve small things frequently. Tackling small sections of a larger project is a way to make manageable progress, and to give yourself time to let the new information and skills sink in.
2018 Habits #18: Implement 2 of these new habits per week
The thing with wanting to make drastic change is that it’s rarely sustainable if you go at it with an “all or nothing” attitude. To make small, gradual and sustainable changes and upgrades in my habits, the plan is to implement 2 of the abovementioned habits every week. This will be easier with some habits than with others. Practicing a behaviour once and then not again isn’t the point. Learning to adopt the behaviour consistently is the challenge.
I’m excited for my personal and professional development in the coming year.
Melissa De Klerk
Writer, Web Designer, Digital Media Strategist, Typophile, Inspiration Junkie, Yogi
Melissa is the owner and creative brain behind Fox & Owl Media. She loves creating content strategies and has considerable experience with Website Design and Brand Management.
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