There’s a lot of stuff I’m horrible at with life and money, but thankfully there are pockets of awesomeness here and there which help keep me at arm’s length from trouble. But only an arm’s length, mind you ;)
One of these things are habits. Stuff I do every single day to help me get closer to my goals. I’m not the greatest at tackling large scary projects, but I can rock 100 small things day in and day out without breaking a sweat. They’re not always the most exciting things to do in the world, but they eventually get you to the finish line if you stay on top of them (and even more so when you work on them during your peak performance!).
Here are a handful of the daily habits I’m currently doing:
- Write one blog post a day. I’m going on 6 years now and have never missed a day. My friend Nate likes to make fun of me for this as he’s one of those “only write when you have something important to say” type folks, but in that case I’d never have written any of the 2,031 articles here :) I’m sure I could stop for a day or two and no one would really notice, but then what stops me from going 3 days without writing, and then 4, and then a month? I take “breaks” once a week when you see guest posts here, but even those require me to both edit and write. The thing that keeps me going is rhythm and habit. I break it for a day and it all goes out the window.
- Email one person a day. This keeps me connected and growing my network. Some days I email people I already know and just do a nice little check in, and other times I reach out to those I’d *like* to get to know and do my best to start a conversation. There are tons of books and articles on this subject, but I just think of it as a small fun thing to do every day that literally takes a few seconds. And quite possibly they’re the best seconds of work I do that day. (This is on top of daily email responding/checking btw – that doesn’t count).
- Check my blood pressure once a day. Y’all already know about this, so no need to expand…
- Work out for 30 mins (or, 7 mins!) a day. Same here.
- Spend at least one hour a day on a passion project. It can be 2am and I’m wrapping up for the night, but if I haven’t put in that one hour of passion work yet I won’t be going to bed until it’s fulfilled. It’s the single best habit that got me from 9-5 to self-employment all those years ago (when Budgets Are Sexy was the passion project!), and I’m a firm believer in allocating some amount of time each and every day for things that are important to you. Right now that’s Rockstar Finance for me. (You’ll hear a lot of people waking up a couple hours early every day too to fit this in before they start their day – that works too!)
The rest of my day just becomes filler around that. At least in my head ;) There’s a ton of things we all have to do each day no matter what, but by focusing in on a few of those that are the *most important* to you, it can really help you feel like you’ve accomplished a lot. Even with something as simple as that daily email listed up there! I can work 10 hours straight and still feel like a failure if I haven’t been able to check that off my list as yet, haha… Perhaps that’s because I’m too hard on myself, or perhaps it’s because I want something MORE at the end of the day. Something that all these habits put together gets for me if I keep doing them day in and day out.
That’s the power of habits you create vs those you fall into (watching too much TV, getting lost on Facebook) – they’re built around your own positive goals! And the more you work on them, the less time you have to be wasted on things you could care less about.
[Quick note: I think having 5 habits a day could be a bit much, especially for those starting out. I prefer to have 2 or 3 max so it’s easier to remember and focus, but due to my hustling nature and impending health concerns I have upped the ante on myself… I plan on scaling back over due time.]
Also, notice there’s nothing up there relating directly to money. Money’s incredibly important, of course, but that’s the beauty of having a good handle on things – it doesn’t become a stresser! I still stay on top of everything and check my accounts routinely which I report back to y’all every month, but it’s not an immediate concern (thank goodness). And when it does become one, I’ll replace a habit up there with a financial one instead – nothing’s ever set in stone.
If you’re looking for financial habits today though, try some of these:
- Check your accounts every morning. I did this for years starting out to really grasp my overall picture, as well as to catch any errors or identity thieves out there. It would take me a handful of minutes because my accounts were spread out all over (which eventually annoyed me enough to condense!) but it was always worth the effort.
- Research one thing a day. It could be your car insurance, a credit card, a mortgage you’re thinking of getting, a utility bill, whatever. Take 10 or 15 minutes and see if there’s something you’re missing, or something you can improve on like an interest rate. Sometimes all it takes is a 5 min call to save hundreds – if not thousands! – of dollars over time!
- File something every day. There’s always something to file ;)
- Put a dollar in a jar. (Or a bank account)
- Track all your expenses for the day. Make a challenge out of it to REALLY get a sense for how much you’re spending day in and day out!
- Hold yourself back from buying one thing a day?
- Write down one thing you’re thankful for each day. Relating to money…. or not.
That should keep you busy for a while :) But the point, of course, is to keep you busy on the stuff that’s *important* to you – whatever that is. And to start forming these habits sooner than later to help speed you closer to your goals.
So think about it for a few this morning, and if any light bulbs go off please tell us about them! Or tell us about the ones you’ve already implemented and how those are going if you’d like :) I’m sure those reading would love to hear them.
3 quick tips before I leave you to it:
- Know yourself, and how you operate.
- Build your habits around these things you know!
- Ignore everyone around you :) Like your mom who wonders why you have to work past 5pm every day like a weirdo…
PS: Here are two productivity tricks I’ve just started trying too: 1) only checking my email when there are 10+ unread messages in it, and 2) using this pimp egg timer to time my tasks… If you’re interested, I’ll report back later with my success or lack there of ;)
[Photo cred: Wrote / Doodled on by J$, who wants that mug BAD]
PS: Some of my favorite tools:
|Personal Capital (FREE) -- If you’re looking for a robust financial tracker, Personal Capital is the way to go! They’re like Mint, but on steroids and have much better tools for investment and net worth tracking. // Full review|
|Digit (FREE) -- A super easy (and automated) way to save. Every day Digit analyzes your income and expenses and will push money aside for you any time it sees extra sitting there. I've saved over $4,000 myself using them so far! // Full review|
|Acorns -- Having trouble finding money to invest? Check out Acorns – they round up all your transactions to the nearest $1.00 and drops the difference into an investment portfolio for you. Easy way to start investing! // Full review|