A few months back, Stephen Guise wrote an excellent book called Mini Habits: Small Habits, Bigger Results. The core premise is to show how you can stick to a larger habit (like writing or working out) by starting “stupidly small” and creating a very simple goal. The goal of a mini-habit is to be consistent. In fact, consistency is much more important than what you accomplish with this daily habit.
The example that Stephen gives is what he calls “The One Pushup Challenge.” In the past, he had trouble sticking with a workout routine because he tried to cram a year’s worth of effort into the first workout. This “feast or famine” approach led to de-motivation and burnout.
One day, Stephen decided to do the opposite, and set a goal of doing one pushup. Simple, right? With that single pushup, he fulfilled his daily activity “requirement.” But next thing you know, he did 14 more. After that, he decided to do one pull-up. Same thing happened—one led to several more. Then he did the same thing with sit-ups. By the time Stephen was done, he had completed a solid workout—simply by setting a goal of doing one pushup.
The core idea behind the mini-habits concept is that you can build a major habit by thinking small enough to get started. Most people don’t need motivation to do one pushup, so it’s easy to get started. And once you get going, you’ll find it’s easy to keep at it.
You can apply the mini-habits concept to any major habit: exercise, productivity, health or relationships. If an action has the capacity to grow and turn into a major routine, then it could be labeled a mini-habit.
The difference between a mini-habit and the small changes I’m about to discuss is level of capacity.
Think back to the brushing your teeth, for example. It’s an excellent small change that everyone should do, but there’s no way you could “add reps” to this routine. You either brush your teeth or you don’t.
The same principle applies to the majority of the habits outlined in this book. Each is a single-serving action. While you could expand on some of these habits, you’ll get the best results by only doing each for a few minutes.