For 2020, I’ve decided not to make any overwhelmingly large New Year’s resolutions. As the health-obsessed CEO of Hint Water and a busy mother of four, they often feel too far away and daunting.
Instead, I’m sticking to my existing daily routines — and improving them by adding simple, incremental changes. Research from Stanford University even suggests that breaking down ambitious pursuits by concentrating on small “sub-goals,” rather taking massive steps, is more effective.
Below is a glimpse into my daily routine, along with the few tiny upgrades I’ve added. It’s only been a little over a week since I’ve started, but I’m already noticing extraordinary improvements in my happiness, health, and productivity.
1. Limit my morning screen time.
The moment I get up every morning, I check my emails and notifications for just a few minutes, and then put it away. Some might advise against this, but allowing myself a limited amount of phone time helps me resist the temptation of checking it too often the rest of the day.
But this year, I’m also making it a point to put my phone on do-not-disturb mode (or in another room altogether) when I’m at home. This allows me to spend more time with my family and myself.
2. Do the hardest thing first.
Ever heard of the phrase “eating the frog?” It’s a time management idea made famous by Mark Twain (and also used by Mark Cuban) that encourages you to complete your hardest — or most significant — task first, so you can go through the rest of the day knowing the worst is behind you. I take this idea to heart.
But instead of scheduling my most important work tasks in the morning, as I’ve typically done in the past, I’ve started prioritizing my health-related tasks. So every morning when my alarm goes off at 5:30 a.m., I’ll take my dogs for a run. Not only does this help me stay in shape, but being outside in nature also improves my mental well-being.
3. Fuel my body with (actually) healthy foods.
I always kick off my mornings with a smoothie — usually with kale, apples, strawberries, and some Hint water. This gives me a quick energy boost and helps jump-start my days on a super healthy note.
As for my remaining meals, I’ve always allowed myself to eat all over the map. But now, I’m making a bigger effort to avoid fake “healthy” foods (e.g., flavored instant oatmeal that’s loaded with sugar) throughout the day.
4. Adjust my routine as needed.
Unlike New Year’s resolutions, the best part about daily routines is that you can’t “fail” at them. If you fall off the wagon with one of your routines, you can always start fresh tomorrow. Or, even better, squeeze the routine in at a different time that day.
I try to stick to my daily rituals as much as possible. But this year, when something unexpected derails my plans, I’ll be more forgiving of myself and adjust my routine instead.
If I don’t make it on my morning run, for example, I’ll try to get in some exercise later in the day by doing a “walking meeting,” either on the phone or with my employees.
5. Make time for creative mental work.
Some people will tell you that bringing work home with you in the evenings or on weekends is a bad idea. And while there’s truth to that, I often need to clock in extra hours in order to avoid feeling anxious and stressed about falling behind the next day.
But now, instead of getting sucked back into the minutiae of my inbox, I set aside some quiet time after dinner for big-picture thinking. Since that’s when my mind is the most relaxed, I’m better able to explore ideas that I rarely have time for in the office, such as coming up with new product line ideas and ambitious growth plans.
Kara Goldin is the founder and CEO of Hint, a flavored water brand. She also hosts and produces the podcast “Unstoppable,” where she interviews inspiring entrepreneurs.