I think about the future a lot.

I think about where I’m going to live, and what I’m going to work on, and how it’s going to feel.

And while I believe thinking is a great first step to planning, it’s not always the best trade off in brain power. All the energy you spend thinking about five years or ten years from now could go into taking action this week instead.

Whenever I’m feeling totally in a slump, I use a strategy I call Five Day Plans to get out of it. Five Day Plans is the only way I’ve been able to successfully build multiple habits at once. And I believe that building multiple habits at once is a powerful force multiplier for performing at your best.

If you are stressed out, unemployed, physically unhealthy, etc. there are likely dozens of contributing factors. That’s why searching the internet often feels useless, because “I can’t sleep well” is a symptom of everything.

Five Day Plans are like a habit loophole that let you tackle many of the contributing factors at once. Basically, you create a table and list the five habits you want to conquer in the first column. The following columns are labeled one thru five for the days you are committing to.

Example:

1 2 3 4 5
15 Minutes Exercise
20 Minutes Reading
No Electronics After 10pm
Floss
Bed by Midnight

Each day your goal is to check off all the items on your list, and after five days of perfect checkmarks you win. If you miss even one point on one day then you have to start the five day series over. I intentionally leave some of the items vague to allow for flexibility. Example: 15 minutes of exercise could be a 15 minute walk, 15 minutes of taiqi, or 15 minutes of lifting weights. Usually it means walking, and if you are already out for 15 minutes you may as well go for 30 minutes.

If you win, your prize is increasing the habits! You can add new habits existing ones by adding more time or repetitions.

For best results, rinse and repeat — but if you do abandon your plan, you can still reboot on demand to blast out of your next slump.

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I write about marketing, productivity, personal finance and charity.