Fact: New Year’s Resolutions are mostly pointless. For starters, the latest research about willpower suggests that you should aim to change your habits during a change of circumstance (for instance, going on holiday or moving) and when there aren’t too many other psychic pressures on you – not just when you’re going back to your soul-crushing, motivation-ruining job. And if you’re trying to stick to more than one resolution at once, you’re making things even harder on yourself – draining your willpower by dieting, say, and then trying to drag yourself to the gym (assuming you don’t want to go), is madness. Trying to change your life through sheer willpower and good intentions is madness.
So what can you do? Simple. Harness those good intentions right now, while you’ve got time, and spend one hour – 60 minutes – getting rid of time-sinks, learning vital life-skills, and putting systems in place that will improve your quality of life indefinitely. Here’s your five-step plan:
1. Delete time-sinks
I’ve talked before about what a waste of time Angry Birds, patience and Candy Crush are. If you’ve got them on your phone or tablet, get rid of them. You don’t need to replace them with anything clever: just a basic notepad app, for writing down ideas, will do.
2. Install Chrome Nanny
Or LeechBlock if you’re on Firefox. Install an extension on your web browser of choice that will limit the amount of daily time you spend on websites you really shouldn’t.
3. Set reminders
If there are simple resolutions you’re keen to follow, set a reminder that will at least force you to think about them. There are apps that do this, but there’s nothing wrong with putting a post-it note on your monitor/fridge/bedside table/whatever. Mine? Do some work at codeacademy.com, improve my SEO understanding, and get better at Photoshop. For more fine ideas, try Karen X Cheng’s Give It 100 project.
4. Darken your room
Quality of sleep is fundamental to a good life. The single easiest thing you can do to improve it is as follows: switch your bedroom lights off, and look for any sources of light in your bedroom. If there are LEDs, etc – cover them with tape. If there’s a crack in your curtains, look for a way to cover it (maybe with blackout curtains). I did this last year, and my sleep quality has improved immensely.
5. Pick a benchmark workout
This should be something you’ll try to improve throughout the coming year. It could be pressups without resting, or something more complicated, like rounds of pullups, pressups and squats in 10 minutes. The key is that it should be simple, require kit that you’ve always got to hand, and not take too long. With at least one workout in the clip, you’ll never have an excuse to avoid training.
HOMEWORK: Do all of the above. It’ll only take you 35 minutes.