How are those New Year's Resolutions going? Not so well? If you're afraid to answer, that's OK. It turns out it's really tough to develop good habits. But there are ways you can trick yourself into forming new routines, and many of them start by making small changes around your home.
1. Leave Something Out
Normally I'm fighting to keep random clutter from taking over the apartment, but being a bit messy can help when when you're trying to build a habit. Take whatever tools you need to kick off your habit — like hand weights or a roll of floss — and leave them out in the open on counter tops or coffee tables. With these visual reminders of your resolutions, it's almost hard not to tackle it.
2. 21 Days of Sticky Notes
They say it takes 21 days to build a habit. Pick a high-traffic spot in your home, and tack up a row of sticky note flags numbered 1 to 21. Each day when you spot the flags, you'll be reminded to tear one off and get started on your new habit. By the time all the flags are done, you'll already have developed a routine. You can also use this strategy to wean yourself off a bad habit, like Rachel of Life Without Bread and Butter did for each day she went without sugar.
3. Remove "Friction"
What's stopping you from packing your lunch before work? If you can nail down any points of friction, make some changes to your space or routine to make it easier to get good habits done. I found that I'm more likely to pack a lunch on weekday mornings if everything is pre-portioned into plastic bags over the weekend, for example. You might discover trips to the gym are easier if your gym clothes are waiting for you in a spot next to the bed when you wake up.
4. Set a Reminder on a Phone or Computer
If you need a nudge (or several) throughout the day, set a simple alarm on your computer or phone to complete a task at the appropriate intervals. Built-in alarms or task reminders work great, but you can also try an app built for habit-forming, like Lift for iPhone or Habit Streak Pro for Android. Or find an app designed to help with a specific goal, like Daily Water for a hydration nudge, or Posture Perfect to keep your back straight.
5. Keep Up a Calendar
Sometimes the simplest solution is the best. To make yourself accountable for visits to the gym or for putting on sunscreen in your morning routine, mark an "X" over each day it gets done. Keep the calendar out where you can see it to motivate yourself to keep slathering on the SPF and inking off the days.