5 keystone habits you can start right now

⏳ 3 minute read

Practical tips to start building long-lasting habits that will change your life forever – apart from washing your hands, of course.


Published on July 30, 2020

by Hannah Albeus

How many times have you told yourself that from now on, you’ll take better care of yourself, sleep earlier and binge less on Netflix? How many times have you failed just after a few days of trying? Yes, we’ve been there too. We can all agree that building good habits is difficult and that’s especially true if we want to stick to them for the long-term. 

Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, describes habit as “a choice that we deliberately make at some point, and then stop thinking about, but continue doing, often every day.” 

Okay, so what are keystone habits?

Keystone habits are small changes or habits that people introduce to their routines that unintentionally carry over into other aspects of their lives.

– Charles Duhigg, The Power or Habit

Once you are able to stick to a keystone habit, there is a ripple effect on your other habits or behavioral patterns, as it will essentially dislodge and remake them. Keystone habits allow you to do more (in the long run) for less effort now. 

Here are some of the examples of keystone habits you can start doing now even while stuck at home: 

1. Make your bed every morning

In a 2014 commencement speech for the University of Texas in Austin, Naval Admiral William McRaven, the commander of U.S. Special Operations went viral for saying that you can change the world starting with making your bed. He says that “If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.” He then added that, “by the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.”

As a bonus, making your bed correlates with increased productivity, a greater sense of well-being, and better budgeting skills, according to Duhigg. So start folding your blanket and poofing your pillows and be on your way to change the world! 

2. Get a regular exercise

Gyms are opening soon, so for those who halted their workout routine, this might be a good time to get back to the habit of burning some calories (keeping in mind social distancing and constant disinfection, of course). For those who prefer to stay home, here’s a list of 20-minute workouts on YouTube you can start today. Exercise doesn’t have to be hardcore especially if you’re just getting into the habit of doing it – you can start small and gradually work your way up to doing more sets and lifting heavier weights. What’s important is building up the discipline to just do it and you might surprise yourself by how much your body can do just by staying consistent with exercise. 

It’s also good to remember that regular exercise translates to a good sleep and better eating patterns, and may even result in drinking and smoking less. What a win! 

3. Listen to a podcast episode at least twice a week

One of the best habits you can form is the habit of continuous learning. Listening to podcasts while doing most of our otherwise routinary and mindless chores is one of the best ways to learn with minimal effort. With a plethora of available topics, podcasts are the perfect mix of education and entertainment in a world where multitasking is just inevitable. 

Check out our suggestions on the best podcasts to listen to:

4. No more screen time 1 hour before bedtime 

While this may be a tall order for most of us, plugging off before bedtime can actually prolong our life span for up to 2 ½ years. Numerous studies also support the move to lessen screen time because of its obvious benefits like better sleep, improved relationships and less anxiety. Scrolling through your Instagram or Facebook feed before bedtime may just make you feel even more stressed and that’s not a good way to end your evening.  Here are some things you can do in 60 minutes:

  • Play with your furry friend, give belly rubs and kisses
  • *Actually* talk to your partner about your day, your fears, motivations and dreams
  • Cozy up in bed with a good book that you’ve always wanted to read but never had the chance to
  • Meditate and reflect on your day to practice good self-internalization 

5. Check up on any friend or family member at least once a week

Liking your friend’s Instagram post is not a legit communication. Whatever happened to calling or texting your sister just to check up on them or to tell them a funny random story? A lot of people have forgotten what it’s like to be present because we’re distracted by the situations around us. And now, due to the sudden mandate of social distancing, more people are reportedly depressed and lonely — and this might be the best time to check up on your loved ones to make sure that they are doing okay. 

Building the habit of keeping communication lines open creates an atmosphere of trust and confidence with your loved ones that will undoubtedly lead to better relationships and a better outlook in life — just make sure that these are healthy relationships that inspire you to become a better person. 

Keystone habits teach us that we don’t necessarily need to get every single thing right, but instead, we should identify a few key priorities and fashion them into powerful levers that can drive a positive and long-lasting effect in our lives to make us happier and healthier. 

So what are you waiting for? Look for your positive keystone habits now and do your best to ensure you stick to it! 

Hannah Albeus

Hannah is a marketing intern at Workbean. She is currently a student in the University of the Philippines-Diliman. Her idea of fun is devouring numerous books. Food is her greatest comfort, and fashion gives her life.

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