More than a few people have asked me about how I organize my habits.
“Habits” seems to be a popular word these days, with more and more books popularizing the idea of habits over goals.
Goals are great, but it’s your habits that achieve them.
As a father of five, husband to one, active-duty servicemember, full-time blogger, and world traveler, my habits have to be organized.
Until I got my BA in Finance, I was also a full-time student.
Two words make everything I do on a daily basis happen fluidly:
Schedule and habits.
This article will focus on the second word: habits.
I thought it might help some of you to see all of the habits I keep and track on a daily basis.
How I Track My Habits
I’ve been to known to be somewhat of an app junkie, but I always try to make sure my phone is only full of the apps I’m actively using.
I’ve used countless apps in the past to track my habits, including the following:
- Productive App – It’s a great app with a beautiful interface, but recently their support has been lagging and the app hasn’t worked as well as it used to.
- Habitica – This app turns your habits into a game, but because the app is so large, I’ve had issues with updates not being made and progress not being saved, so I deleted this one as well.
- Balanced – This app also has an attractive interface, but it’s more simplistic than I needed.
While all three of the above apps are mostly really good apps, I’m no longer using any of them.
I use Chaos Control now. It’s not free, but it’s also not overly expensive, and I’m not getting paid to recommend it; I just think it’s the best for my needs.
You can set daily tasks (habits) to be completed and it also has a nice to-do list. If you want to track your habits, it doesn’t have all of the fancy habit-progress features, but it’s a great way to remind yourself of each habit.
Now for the reason you’re really here: to see all of my personal business! Just kidding. It’s good to learn from each other, so hopefully seeing my daily habits can help you build and modify your own. Let’s get to it…
My Morning Habits
Recently my schedule has changed — mostly, my exercise has been pushed up to an earlier time, so I’ve had to start waking up earlier.
Again, I am active-duty military so I have to do PT (physical training) when I’m told. I also work as a full-time blogger before I go to my day job in the military, so I need a lot of time before work.
I do all of this before work to maximize my family time after work.
I used to keep more of a “Miracle Morning” sort of routine, complete with all of the “SAVERS,” but I’ve found some things work better in the evening, so my “Miracle Morning” is more of a “Miracle Day,” since it’s spread throughout the morning, through the afternoon, and into the evening.
One point I want to stress is, very few of my habits are strict in execution. In the past, I have tried following strict journal layouts, and keeping a strict order to everything, and that failed miserably. For me, it works best to loosely define the habit.
Every day is slightly different, and I do not get to every single one of these 100% of the time. This is definitely an ideal day, but this is the goal (in chronological order):
- Journal (7 days a week) – Once I have my morning coffee, I’m ready to sit down and journal. It usually takes about 10 or 15 minutes. I write about recent events and lessons learned from the prior day, and/or whatever happens to be on my mind at the time. It often turns into some sort of theological reasoning or discussion… with myself. I journal on a private blog I have set up through WordPress. This way I can easily search through entries, and go back to old entries by date.
- Pray/Meditate (7 days a week) – I start by thanking God for the day, and then I pray for my family. I start with my wife and work my way through each one of my children individually. Then I pray for anything else that seems to be on my mind, and spend about five or ten additional minutes in a mixture of silence and meditation. When I use apps for this, I prefer Echo for prayer reminders and Pause for meditation. If I want a longer meditation, I use Insight Timer.
- Bible (7 days a week) – After my prayer time is complete, I open my Bible reading plan on the computer. I use Bible.com and their YouVersion Bible App for plans. My morning Bible plan is generally short. It takes about 10 minutes or less to read. I’ve written about my favorite Bible study plans here.
- MITs (7 days a week) – I review my Most Important Tasks, which usually starts with whatever I’m writing. My recent book, Intentional Children, was on the forefront until I finished it. Now my MITs either include articles to write (like this one) or videos to record/edit for my YouTube channel.
- Write/Record (6 days a week) – Now that I’ve reviewed my MITs, it’s time to write or record. I have hundreds of writers for my other blog, and I rarely actually write articles for it, so I start with editing the articles that need to be posted on that blog. Then I move here to Freedom Sprout, where I write 99.9% of the articles personally, and I start writing. I try to use two days a week to bulk record/edit my videos so I can focus on writing the other 4-5 days. Once I start writing/recording, I work for at least one solid hour before taking a 10-minute break.
- Finances (6 days a week) – I use Personal Capital (free) to see an overview of all my accounts, and make sure nothing fishy is going on. “Fishy” could be anything from fraudulent activity to new payments that I forgot to set up. Whatever it is, it only takes five minutes to log in and see what’s going on. I use EveryDollar to actually do my budget, which I review daily, because I enjoy it (I am a finance nerd after all). If you haven’t tried EveryDollar yet, I created a 10-minute video tutorial to help you get started.
- Tiny Habits (5 days a week) – Right now I have two tiny habits: pushups and planking. I started by doing one pushup and increasing it by one, each day that I do the habit. For the plank, I started with 30 seconds and increased it by 10 seconds a week. I’m up to 45 pushups (typically at once, but it can be split if I choose to do so) and 3:30 planking (usually split into 3x one-minute and 1x 30 seconds). I do this twice a day, but we’ll get to the second time in a moment. If you don’t know what Tiny Habits are, I wrote about how to start them and do them with your kids.
- Exercise (5 days a week) – We have group PT 3x a week and I work out on my own the other two days. This is the first hard-scheduled task since it happens at 6:00am whether I want it to or not.
That sums up my morning. After I work out, I get ready for work and typically work until around 5:00pm.
My Afternoon Habits
I used to work out in the afternoons, but since I switched to mornings, my afternoons only consist of another round of tiny habits…
- Tiny Habits (5 days a week) – I’ll repeat the same two tiny habits from the morning. I’m usually still at work, so sometimes I have to go find a quiet room to knock these out in, but it doesn’t take long. A quick plank and a few pushups can get my blood pumping again and help me fight fatigue through the afternoon.
My evenings are never the same. I’ll be spending time with my family, but we’re always doing something different…
My Evening Habits
Once I wind down, and the kids head to bed, my evening ritual starts:
- Daily Recap (7 days a week) – I’ve been using Grid Diary for this. It seems to be the easiest way to do a quick recap, and I like that I can do it on my phone. As far as what my recap consists of, I’ll write about that soon. It’s eight different questions that make me think.
- Read (6 days a week) – Sometimes I read on Sundays, but typically I only read six days a week. I’ll usually switch it up between books on personal finance, productivity, theology, and the occasional novel. I keep my Goodreads profile updated with what I’m reading. I also listen to audiobooks on my way to and from work and the gym.
- Bible (7 days a week) – This is when I spend a little more time studying the Scriptures. Right now I use this time to go through the ReadScripture plan, which is an awesome plan complete with videos to teach you about parts of the Bible. I use the iPhone app to see what I am supposed to be reading, and watch any videos for that day. But I actually read my physical Bible during my evening readings to avoid excessive blue light before bed.
- MITs (7 days a week) – This is when I actually write my MITs for the next day. I quickly see what needs to be done and write down at least three MITs, but it usually ends up being a few more than that.
- Prepare (7 days a week) – Now I spend the last few minutes before bed preparing for the next day. My MITs are set, so I know what I need to do to prepare. I use this time to get my coffee ready to go for the next morning. I lay out whatever clothes I will need for the next morning (e.g. workout clothes). I even go so far as to open my browser tabs to my journal, the Bible and my MIT list, in sequential order. Overkill? Possibly.
Another important habit before bed is simply going to the bathroom. I drink a lot of water all day long, so if I don’t remind myself to use the bathroom before bed, whether I have to go or not, I’ll wake up in the middle of the night to pee. Going before bed equals better sleep quality. Boom! Science.
I have other little habits that I track from morning to evening. I think I have around 30 total, but I only listed the ones I thought you might care about.
I really hope this helps you to see that even with an extremely busy schedule, you can find time for good habits.
What habits do you practice every day? Do you have morning and evening rituals? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!