Mini Habit Ideas

Quick Menu: Ideas | Rewards | Hybrids | Combos | Tools

This is the master list of mini habit ideas with several categories. It will be updated occasionally with new ideas. If you have an idea that you don’t see here, send me a message or leave a comment on this post.

You’ll notice that each section has ideas based on quantity and time. Quantity-based mini habits are recommended because they’re often easier and the amount of effort you’ll exert is more concrete. This helps your brain calculate just how easy it is. For example, running stairs for a full minute could actually be anywhere from easy to very intense, but running up and down the stairs two times is exact.

When something is time-based, you might feel more tempted to stop after you complete your time. This can discourage “bonus reps,” which we definitely don’t want! That said, some people are so busy that they think more in terms of how they spend time (as opposed to effort), which is why it is included as an option.

Final thought: sometimes it’s best not to meticulously track your requirement. Whether time-based on quantity-based, when you give yourself a very easy goal like 15 seconds of running the stairs, a stopwatch would signify “the end” of your requirement. But if you just aim for 15 seconds without tracking it, you don’t have a “now it’s time to stop” indicator and may do more.

This technique has worked well for me with writing. I know about how much 50 words is, and so I’ll make sure I do a bit more than that, but not knowing exactly when I hit the magic number helps me to focus more on the work and get into a groove. This way, you get the benefits of a small target with less temptation to stop. It’s something you may want to experiment with, but don’t let it become an excuse to underachieve your goal. Make sure you hit your minimum targets every day. That’s what matters most.

Mental Fitness, Knowledge, & Intelligence

By Quantity

  • Read 2 pages in a book
  • Read 1 new fact
  • Complete 1 mental exercise or game (Brainmetrix offers free brain training games)
  • Memorize a group of 5-10 words (grocery list)

By Time (1 min)

  • Attempt to solve a rubix cube
  • Add 1 plus 2 (=3); add 3 to that (=6); add 4 to that result (=10), and so on…
  • Spend 1 minute learning a new word (enhance your native language or learn a foreign language)

Physical Fitness

Exercise mini habits are well-suited for hybrid mini habits, which allow you to convert “X times a week” goals into daily goals. This is great for people starting out who want to do something relatively difficult like go to the gym consistently.

By Quantity

  • 1 Push-up
  • 1 Sit-up
  • 1 Pull-up
  • 1 weigh-in per day (weighing yourself increases your mindfulness about your weight and the things that influence it. Thanks to Marty for this terrific idea. Also, how easy is it to step on a scale?)
  • Walk/jog to the end of your driveway
  • Leave the house at least once a day, further than the mailbox
  • Put on your gym clothes (seriously)
  • Set up your exercise mat, press play on ab video, sit on mat (you don’t have to do the workout, but make yourself do this and you’ll probably want to do at least a little bit)
  • Drive to the gym (X times per week)

By Time (30 sec)

  • Run stairs
  • Run in place
  • Walk
  • Dance
  • Jumping jacks
  • Push-ups
  • Sit-ups
  • Pull-ups

Health, Diet, & Well-Being

By Quantity

  • Drink 1 glass of water
  • Eat 1 piece of fresh fruit (unprocessed)
  • Eat 1 serving of fresh vegetables (unprocessed)
  • HYBRID – Eat 1 salad OR cook 1 meal at home
  • Relax completely once per day (even briefly)
  • Stretch 1 body part
  • Floss one tooth
  • Office workers

By Time (1 min)

  • Get sunshine
  • Relax completely
  • Stretch

Happiness

Psychologists have found a few things that seem to make all people happier. They are social connections, being mentally present, thinking positively, committing to goals, practicing thankfulness, giving, and reducing stress. All Mini Habits make us happier by providing commitment and success with goals, but here are some specific Mini Habits that should serve to boost your daily happiness even more.

Happiness Habits Warning: Habits are less emotional by nature. This means that if you develop the habit of listing three things you’re thankful for, the happiness effect might wear off as it becomes “routine.” The best way to counteract this is to purposefully not make these things habit. Instead, you can select a few of these and rotate them on a daily or weekly basis. This will keep things fresh and keep you happy and interested!

By Quantity

  • Write down or think of one thing you’re grateful for
  • Write down or think one positive thought about life
  • Thank one person for something they’ve done for you
  • Say hi to one stranger
  • Connect with one friend
  • Make eye contact with a stranger (good starting point for social improvement)
  • Do one thing to reduce your stress
  • Help one person
  • Hug one person
  • Savor 1 bite per meal
  • Smile once (this is not insignificant)
  • Laugh once (smiling/laughing trigger a release of feel-good chemicals in the brain even if you fake them, but don’t fake them)

By Time (1 min)

  • Relax completely or meditate
  • Help someone else
  • Smile/laugh for 10 seconds straight (it makes me laugh just thinking about this. Watch these extreme laughers if you need a boost—it’s contagious!)

Business

By Quantity

  • Write down 1 lead (“lead” in this case applies to sales or networking)
  • Call 1 lead
  • Email 1 lead
  • Write down 1 business idea
  • Ask 1 customer how you can serve them better
  • Write down 1 area of your business that could be improved (optional: and how to do it)
  • Think of 1 new way to streamline your workday (e.g. check email only twice per day)

By Time (1 min)

  • Organize paper files
  • Organize computer files
  • (Re)evaluate your high-level business model
  • Brainstorm ideas (for current or new business)

Productivity

By Quantity

  • Plunk a key (on piano, guitar, etc.)
  • “Dejunk” a small surface or area (sink, dresser, 1/2 of desk, bathtub rim, 3 square feet of floorspace, etc.)
  • Process 1 piece of paper (mail, office docs, etc.)
  • Consume/decide on 1 queued item (such as internet bookmarks)
  • Write 50 words (for book)
  • Write 50 words (for blog)
  • Write 50 words (for anything)
  • Read 2 pages in a book
  • Write 3 new ideas
  • Learn one new word/phrase in [language]

By Time (1 min)

  • Misc cleaning
  • Clean rooms (rotate: bathroom on Monday, bedroom on Tuesday, etc.)