Sunday Self-Scaler 11
Here are 23 powerful nano habits to live a much better life. Each of these takes less than a minute to perform.
I’m lazy, one of the laziest people you are likely to find. This is exactly why I don’t tend to rely too much on willpower. This is also exactly why I am tired of all these micro habit articles.
Things like waking up at 5:30 AM or taking cold showers aren’t really micro habits for a late riser that enjoys hot showers like me.
I want to share not micro but 23 nano habits that each takes less than a minute to perform. These are habits that I personally perform and are designed to be easy and require little to no willpower.
They won’t change your life right away but will help you live better every day and over time compound to unimaginable results. As James Clear says,
“Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. The same way that money multiplies through compound interest, the effects of your habits multiply as you repeat them.”
1. Pop a Weighing Scale in The Bathroom and Step on It Every Morning
When I joined college, I weighed around 76 kgs, and by the end of my first year of college, I had shot up to 87 kgs. Neither did I intend it to happen nor did I realize it.
It’s extremely easy to gain weight without even realizing it. It’s only ever since I started tracking my weight, that I have had far more control over it.
When you are aware of your weight, you tend to subconsciously make small changes to regulate it such as — denying that extra serving, going for a smaller packet of fries, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
This is easy to do as well. Just buy a weighing scale and pop it in the bathroom such that it is conspicuous. So when you wake up and step into the washroom, you are reminded to step on the scale as well.
2. When Working, Listen to The Same Song on Repeat
If you are someone that works best in silence, then stick to that and skip ahead. If you aren’t, then you are better off listening to the same song on repeat.
Research shows that doing so makes you “dissolve” in the song and focus on the work at hand instead of letting your mind wander to the music.
3. Use the 20–20–20 Rule
When I suffered from a string of severe headaches, my doctor diagnosed it as migraine and advised me to reduce my screen time and also use the 20–20–20 rule — every 20 minutes spent looking at a screen, spend 20 seconds looking at something 20 feet away.
As to the screen time, I couldn’t or rather didn’t reduce it much but I followed the 20–20–20 rule for the most part. It was astonishing just how much my eye strain reduced — my eyes used to throb and water earlier but fared much better now.
The rule works. Even research shows the same.
4. When Buying Packaged Food, Read the Labels
Most often, what is on the front is a lie. Manufacturers use misleading claims to trick us into buying their products — “healthy” breakfast cereal is most often just a load of sugar and processed grains. Research has also found such advertising is found to be effective.
It was when I got serious about fitness that I started reading the labels and now it’s become a habit. I find myself ignoring the front and flipping to the labels almost unconsciously.
“Healthy” breakfast cereal is most often just a load of sugar and processed grains.
Reading the labels doesn’t have to be tricky — here’s an excellent article on how to read labels without overcomplicating things.
5. Do the Downward Dog to Cobra Stretch Right After You Wake up Every Morning
Ever since I’ve started doing this, I start my mornings feeling agile, active, and supple as opposed to feeling like a groggy zombie.
The downward dog to cobra stretch activates and stretches almost every single muscle in the body. It can also improve your posture, strengthen your bones, afford relief, and energize you.
6. When Setting an Alarm, Set Multiple Ones Spaced a Few Minutes Apart
When it so happened that I had to switch to working out early in the morning, I missed a lot of days. One alarm didn’t cut it — it was far too easy to hit the snooze button.
One night, out of frustration, I set around 15 alarms for the next morning. I snoozed the first one, then the second one, but by the third one, I sat up and snoozed the rest.
“Making something hard to not do is the same as making it easy to do.”
But by then, I was wide awake, so mission achieved. By making it hard to snooze all the alarms, I had made it easy to wake up. It’s simple actually — making something hard to not do is the same as making it easy to do.
7. Adjust Your Clock 5 Minutes Further
This works wonders. One of my greatest weaknesses is the lack of punctuality and this has really helped me overcome it to a large extent.
It might sound ridiculous that it would work when you know that it is set forward. But it works, all thanks to the subconscious mind.
It’s just like ads — even though we know an ad is meant to influence us to buy a product, we subconsciously get affected by it and gravitate towards that product.
8. Before You Sleep, Place a Glass of Water by Your Bed
We all know the myriad of benefits to drinking water the first thing in the morning but what we find hard is actually drinking it.
When you place a glass or flask of water by your bed before sleeping, it will be the first thing you see when you wake up and hence makes it impossible to skip drinking it.
9. Lie on Your Back and Hang Your Head Off the Bed
Back when I had a migraine, the mind-numbing pain would have me rolling around in bed. It was then, by accident that I discovered that lying on my back and hanging my head off the bed reduced the pain and relaxed me.
Turns out there’s more to it — it improves the blood flow to your head, stretches your neck, and improves your posture.
Nowadays, I perform this at least twice a day. It helps me relax and relieves the tightness of my neck and shoulders.
10. When You Feel Like Checking Your Phone, Pause and Count to Five
Ever since the advent of the internet, being online has become the norm and even a few minutes of going offline gives us anxiety. No wonder that the average smartphone user checks his phone 47 times a day.
Most often, when I am bored, I tend to use the excuse of checking my phone for a minute to end up endlessly scrolling my social media feeds. We all do. It’s almost instinctual.
But by counting to five, you get time to think, and more often than not, you won’t grab your phone.
11. Stand up And Stretch
If you work a job that involves long hours of sitting, then this is for you, my friend. Long hours of sitting can cause tightness especially in the neck and your back muscles. This can lead to posture issues and neck pain.
Standing and stretching every now and then can relieve the tightness. Studies have also linked standing more to lesser body fat and better health.
12. When Drinking Water, Sit Down
Despite sounding trivial or insignificant, drinking water while sitting has a lot of benefits — better quenching of thirst, a smoother passage of the water, better kidney functioning, etc.
Except in situations where sitting down is impossible, sit down when drinking water.
13. When Working, Go Cold Turkey
It was through my friend Shivendra Misra that I discovered Cold Turkey Writer — an application that turns your computer into a typewriter. Once you set a word or time goal, until you meet it, you won’t be able to anything else on your computer.
Similarly, there’s a Cold Turkey Blocker, for general purposes. Even when you aren’t working on your computer, the goal is to eliminate distractions. This will allow you to get into a flow state and harness the power of deep work.
So when reading, put your phone on DND and place it in another room. When brainstorming, find a silent place and lock yourself in.
14. Crank out A Few Reps
Every time I go to the bathroom, I like to bang out a few squats and every time I pass my room, bang out a few pullups on the doorway pullup bar. Sometimes, I will also drop onto the floor and bang out a few pushups.
Not only does this keep me functionally fit, but it also expends calories in the form of NEAT and improves my performance on the exercises thanks to Greasing The Groove (GTG).
If you can’t do pullups, hang from a ledge. If you can’t do that, do pushups. If you can’t, then squats. What you do doesn’t matter as long as you are moving.
15. When You Feel Hungry, First Drink a Glass of Water
When you feel hungry, it’s most often thirst. So before eating, drink a glass of water. Not only will you find out if you are actually hungry, but you will also drink more water which is essential — 75% of Americans are dehydrated and there’s a high chance that even you are!
16. When You Find Yourself Getting Worked Up, Take a Few Deep Breaths
A few years back, I had a sharp temper and an even sharper tongue. I would get worked up, say things I didn’t actually intend to, and regret them later.
I’ve become much more patient and calm since then but still find myself getting worked up and acting irrationally every now and then. Now, it’s this habit that helps me think before speaking instead of speaking before thinking.
It's extremely easy to act in a reactive fashion, letting our emotions guide our actions rather than our thoughts. But when you take a few deep breaths, you calm down, collect yourself, and think. In other words, you tend to act proactively.
17. Use a Smaller Spoon to Eat
Studies have found that eating with a smaller spoon led to more bites, more spoonfuls, and more time. This not only leads to more mindful eating but also prevents overeating by making you feel “fuller” quicker.
18. When Feeling Stressed, Splash Some Water on Your Face
Apart from cleansing your face and toning your skin, washing your face can provide a whiff of freshness, relief, and a “psychological reset” — which is crucial to prevent burnout and improve your productivity.
19. Before You Go to Bed, Put Your Phone on Airplane Mode and Place It in Another Room
Unless you are a firefighter, specialty surgeon, or anyone whose work involves emergencies, you most likely won’t get an important call in the night.
This will improve your sleep as phone usage before bed disrupts sleep by restraining melatonin. This also puts your phone out of your hand’s reach, so you won’t glue yourself to your phone as soon as you wake up.
20. Turn Off All Social Media Push Notifications
Ever since I’ve done this, my mood and concentration have improved and my productivity has hit the skies. Research has also found the same.
Do yourself a favor and turn off all or at least all social media push notifications. That Facebook message or Instagram DM can wait.
21. Turn Off Autoplay
Back when I used to binge-watch Anime and YouTube videos every night, I would perch my laptop on the far end of the bed, enable autoplay and lie down comfortably.
One of the first things I did to break this habit was to turn off autoplay. Now, I had to sit up after every episode or video to click on the next. Before, when I felt drowsy, it was easy to continue watching but now it was easy to stop.
Autoplay makes it easy, in fact super easy to binge. When you turn off autoplay, you are forced to manually go to the next episode and this provides a circuit breaker.
“Before, when I felt drowsy, it was easy to continue watching but now it was easy to stop.”
If it’s your TV, not only turn off autoplay but also place the remote far away. This makes it even harder to continue watching.
22. Set up Automatic Investing
Okay, this one might not take less than a minute but you have to do it only once — set it up and that’s all.
Investing needn’t be complicated. With an automatic investment plan (AIP), the decided amount will periodically and automatically be cut from your bank account and invested.
This also takes willpower out of the equation. Let’s be honest, we would most likely spend $100 rather than save and invest it.
The best part is that the amount doesn’t have to big — with a monthly investment of just $100 and at a realistic 8% CAGR, you would have a whopping $57,267!
23. Jot Down Every Idea You Get
There have been hundreds of occasions where an amazing idea would pop up in my head, “Damn! This will make a good article.”, I think in glee and a couple of hours later, I would be sitting, clutching my head unable to recall it.
Experts estimate that the mind thinks 60,000–80,000 thoughts per day. No matter how good your memory is, ideas can and will get lost. To jot down, you can use — a note-taking app, a pocketbook, a notebook, or even a voice note-taking app.
Even if you aren’t a creative, you can do this as it will make you smarter.