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How To Create A New Habit That Sticks To Become More Productive

November 3, 2017

Step 1. Make Your Habit Tiny

These are the smallest behaviors that matter. A tiny habit has to be:

  1. A behavior you do at least once a day.
  2. Takes you less than 30 seconds to do.
  3. Requires little effort.
  4. Is relevant to the full behavior.

If you don’t make your behavior tiny, to begin with, you will almost certainly fail to create a new daily habit.

For example, if you start out running one hour each day, you won’t create a habit of exercise.

But if you commit to putting on your running shoes, you are, as Leo Babauta would comment, “making it so easy, you can’t say no”. [4]

Later – perhaps months later – you can expand on your habit. But when you do, the larger behaviour will be easier. Why? Because the more you do something, the easier it becomes.

Consider all of your existing habits. They are all easy to do because you’ve practiced them for thousands of hours. Soon, your new habit will be no different.

Step 2. Do Your Tiny Habit Immediately after an Existing Behaviour

The next step is to identify an existing habit. This is going to be the cue that triggers your new behavior.

Ask yourself: “What behavior do I always do, regardless of how I feel?”

This can include waking up, showering, going to the bathroom and brushing your teeth, to name a few.

You need to know what your tiny behavior comes “after”. For example: “After I brush my teeth, I’m going to floss one tooth”.

Step 3. Celebrate Small Wins

The final step is to celebrate doing your new habit. You may find this approach weird, but it works, because the ability to self-reinforce good behavibehaviore key to rapid habit formation.

You can speed up the process of habit formation by experiencing positive emotions about your tiny habit the moment you remember to do your tiny habit sequence and after you do it.

When I build a new habit, I physically rehearse the sequence a few times, each time declaring victory. This gets your brain wired to remember it.

For example, my newest tiny habit is doing two press-ups after I’ve meditated. I sit down to meditate (cue), then I get in the position to do a push-up (routine) and finally, I celebrate my tiny success by patting myself on the back (reward). I repeat this sequence a few times until I’ve got it down pat.

There are multiple ways you can celebrate tiny successes. You can do a physical movement like a thumbs up. Say a word or phrase like “Awesome!” internally or out loud. Or move your face to look happy like smiling in the mirror. Whatever you do, make it personal to you.


Every day, just do your tiny behaviour immediately after the existing behaviour you’ve chosen and remember to celebrate. Here, your brain and body is learning a sequence. “After I X, I do Y and I feel Z”. For example, “After I meditate, I do two push-ups and I feel awesome!”

Note, that in this step, you are learning to put a new behaviour into your routine. You are not learning the behaviour itself.

Let me explain. Suppose you want to floss daily. You already know how to do it. But what you don’t know is how to do it regularly. You haven’t mastered putting flossing into your routine as an automatic action – yet. But tiny habits will help you do that.

The more you train this new routine, the more the new behaviour will automatise and become the new normal.

Learn how to implement tiny habits in your daily routine and soon, others will marvel at the apparent ease you became a master yourself—a master of habit.


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