A new month, like the new year, brings about new possibilities and opportunities to commit to a habit change.
Towards the end of last May, I committed to follow a morning and night routine for 31 days to bring about a much needed structure to my days in quarantine. A relatively simple change to my daily routine automatically snowballed into other positive habits.
Within a week, I decided to give up alcohol until my birthday, which was 25 days away. I was drinking almost every day since the quarantine began, and quitting alcohol was a much needed break.
My nightly routine including reading before bed, so I started leaving my phone in a different room to focus on reading uninterrupted.
The first two months of quarantines, I managed to read less than half of It’s Not All Downhill from Here by Terry McMillan. During the 31-day challenge, I managed to finish that book, and also read The Color Purple, My (Not So) Perfect Life, and Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.
In addition to reading more, the quality of my sleep improved greatly.
I became addicted to the feeling of putting a big fat X for each day I was able to complete the challenge.
Inspired by the results, I decided to do another 31-day challenge for the month of July.
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The x-effect and 31-day challenges
The x-effect is a productivity method used to create or break habits by making a 7×7 grid on a card and crossing off each day, “because your willpower is like a muscle, and it gets stronger and stronger as you exercise it.”
I first stumbled upon the x-effect back in 2017, and have used it successfully to permanently delete my Twitter account, which required users to deactivate their account for 30 days before it was permanently deleted.
The idea is simple. Pick something small to do every day, and cross off each day with a big fat X.
For the month of July, I am challenging myself to put all my devices away after 8:00 PM. This means, no phone, no laptop, no tablet, no desktop. Instead, I’m dedicating the night to reading, spending quality time with my family, and cultivating other offline hobbies.
I’ll be using the 31-day challenge template from Austin Kleon to cross my Xs (pictured above).
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More importantly, it’s crucial to have alternative activities planned for after putting devices away.
Currently, I’m re-reading The Book of Negroes by Lawerence Hill.
I first read The Book of Negroes back in high school, and although I remember some parts vaguely, I was too young to truly grasp the brilliance of it. It’s a terrifying, daring, and brilliant account of the transatlantic slave trade, as told by Aminata, an 11-year-old girl who was taken as a captive from her village in Mail and sold as a slave upon arrival in America.
I can barely put the book down, and I’m really looking forward to devouring the remaining 400 pages each night after putting my devices away.
Also, I find it helpful to have a general goal for participating in the challenge. What do I want to accomplish by creating or breaking this specific habit? Why am I doing this?
At the end of this challenge, I hope to…
- finish The Book of Negroes,
- develop healthy sleep habits, and
I also plan on sharing my experience and what I’ve learned after I complete the challenge.
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For more inspiration…
- Watch Matt D’Avella’s video, 12 Habits That Changed My Life, on doing 30-day challenges for a whole year.
Until next time… 🙂