This self-care mindset will improve your life qualityFeatured

How many ‘five-minute hacks’ have you added to your life? How many of those quick hacks have proven effective or useful?

In college, a friend of mine is obsessed with personal growth. Her phone remains locked in a kitchen safe; her smart mattress vibrates her awake at precisely 6:50 am. Once she's freshened up, she follows a rigorous routine. Starting at 7:00 am, she has a fifteen-minute block for each of the following activities: green smoothie, morning run, hot-cold shower, morning meditation, morning pages, physical book, and work on her startup.

Her evenings are just as meticulously planned. She has a similar list from 5:00 pm to bedtime. She was so busy optimizing her routine that she had no time for school and little time for social. Our hangout was timed to 15 minutes too. Her schedule was full of “best practices,” leaving no room for surprises in life. She stuck with the routine for a year, then quit. Why? Because she realized she missed out on all the fun, friendships, and serendipity in life.

You may have tried out some personal hacks because they seemed fun, productive, or popular among your friends. But have those hacks actually helped you meet your goals, or have they moved you away from them?

Hopefully, the hacks haven't completely taken over your time.

How often do you pause to question their true effectiveness? I've tried many "high-performing" routines before, only to abandon them later. I was seeking more balance in life, not a complete overhaul. The key is to bring sustainable change to your life, not overturn it with short-term tricks.

To start simply, I set aside all the good habits and free up a lot of space in my calendar. No best practices and no constraints. I decided to do whatever came up at the moment. Instead of following a prescribed routine, I surrounded myself with good books, people, and nature and trusted that my intuition would pick what worked best at the moment.

This approach worked great for the first few months. I was free. I was always doing things I chose to do in the moment. But I kept forgetting a couple of things, like reading a long-form essay or going deeper in my daily reflection. There was no mechanism to detect unconscious procrastination. As more things came into my life, I began to miss the structure that I once deemed too rigorous. I grew tired of asking myself what to do and wanted a recipe to follow.

What exactly is self-care? My coach explained, "Self-care is very individual. For some people, self-care may just be taking a long drive after work. For some people, it could be sitting by a fire. It's filling your cup. And everybody's version is different.” The conversation made me realize that self-care is not a routine or checklist. Self-care is personal, and I define what it means to me.

This explains why my previous routines—waking up at 5 am, taking hot cold showers, and doing morning yoga—didn’t stick with me. They were never mine in the first place. They were mostly habits of some seemingly successful people. Yet I didn’t know why I was doing them. I didn’t know why they were good for me.

After a phase of unstructured exploration, I decided to create some simple structures in my life: dance, meditate, read, eat vegetables, and talk to my parents. These are the five things I value the most. There’s a simple checklist on my phone that serves as a sweet reward for nurturing myself.

As I delved deeper into this self-curated routine, more space and opportunities emerged in my life. Dancing boosted my physical energy. Books gave me creative ideas. Meditation steered me back to a peaceful state. The deep knowing that I’m prioritizing myself and the positive reinforcement of these new habits made me want more. I’m slowly adding up new habits each week, like playing badminton with friends and attending local art events.

After all, self-care is all about yourself, what is going to bring the best of you, and what activities nourish you. This journey from skepticism to acceptance has not just been about defining the essence of self-care, but about reclaiming it, personalizing it, and living it.

I invite you to embark on your own journey of self-exploration, to discover and embrace the unique rhythm of your life.

thank you for this piece! so funny how we are all so similar trying to overly optimise our lives to our own fault almost. "she stuck with the routine for a year, then quit" I am impressed she lasted a full year living like that! I'm all about routine and all but being overly regimented is absolutely not sustainable! What's she doing now to optimise productivity? For me, this past quarter I implemented the 3-3-3 rule ie. I spend approx 3 hours on my most important task to accomplish that day (sometimes it's a little less than three hours or more but I try not to go over 3 hours that much and I usually do this in the morning very early when my brain is at its peak. Then I complete 3 shorter tasks I don't really want to do but need to (the ones I easily procrastinate on, it's usually some admin stuff lol) and then I work on 3 maintenance activities to keep everything going (this would be things like getting down to inbox zero, my workout etc)
Oh I love this Iynna! I'm going to try the 3-3-3 rule.
YAY! it's been super useful for me tbh!! LMK how it goes for you!
Glad to hear you enjoy this article! Thanks for asking. She's getting better. Still finding balance in work and life. Hopefully we have some cool updates to share in the near future!
Ooh I’m going to experiment with this 3-3-3 idea too. Some loose structure is helpful but I really resist anything too regimented. I struggle to wind down in the evening and try to reassure myself that that I’ve “done enough for the day”. My energy levels are so variable (esp when dealing with sleep deprivation) that pre-planning is a recipe for disappointment. Sticking to the idea of something in this category, something in that category feels more achievable and flexible.
Do it! Changed my life :D And report back!
Love this! In my case, I’ve learned that trying to control every minute of life tends to undermine my self-care. Your approach to structuring time around things that truly nourish you definitely resonates with me!
I think the problem with your friend's approach is not starting with WHY - our life routines should follow our values, our perspective of how we want to live our life.If we define those first, then in fact we can develop quite a valuable routines and "hacks" to support us in that. And then small routines make a part of bigger, meaningful picture, instead of jumping from routine to a routine like a headless chicken without a clear direction :D