You've successfully subscribed to Jerry Zhang
Great! Next, complete checkout for full access to Jerry Zhang
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.
Success! Your billing info is updated.
Billing info update failed.

My Anchor Habits

Jerry Zhang
Jerry Zhang

3 min read

My February 2021 Anchor Habits

Why I Have Multiple Calendars

I used to believe that a digital calendar could completely replace physical calendars. I was wrong.

While digital calendars are amazingly convenient, they remain hidden until you want to see them. Physical calendars have the benefit of always being present and staring at your face. It's always on.

The physical calendar is an amazing tool for personal accountability because you can use it as a streak tracker. Every day that you complete your task, you cross it off. Then, with every passing day, you're pressured to maintain that streak for as long as possible.

My habit tracker is over 50 rows long. But there are certain habits that hold a far greater weight because they influence your entire day and give you a better chance of following your other habits. I call this an anchor habit.

I have 4 anchor habits, and I use 4 physical calendars to track all of them.

Anchor Habit 1: No-Sit Rule

This is the very first thing I do in the morning. Wake up at 5 am. I have two alarms and lights that automatically turn on to help me with this.

Then, I make sure to not sit down until I finish the following:

  • Make my bed
  • Weigh myself (to collect daily health metrics)
  • Morning grooming (brushing my teeth, shaving, washing my face, put on clothes)
  • Drink water
  • 2-mile jog

Only after I've done all these things can I mark this box as done. It usually takes me between 30-45 minutes.

Anchor Habit 2: Morning Deep Work

Now that I've waken up early, let's make sure not to waste the precious morning time. I have nearly 3 full hours of disposal before I begin work, so I'd like to use at least 2 hours towards doing deep work. This can range anything from reading, writing, coding, or any other heads-down type of work that requires no interruption.

If I can fulfill this, I'll mark this box as done.

Anchor Habit 3: Perfect Day

This one is less clear-cut and more vague. Essentially, did I do everything in my power to have the best possible day that I can? Aside from things outside of my control, if I didn't waste time, then it's safe for me to mark this as done.

This is quite difficult. Many times during a day do I feel the temptation to be lazy and waste time. I might not want to do something that I should, and therefore I procrastinate. Maybe I indulge in entertainment for too long, and a few hours go by. Of course, it's okay to have a little bit of entertainment to wind down, but I consider over an hour per day to be wasteful. This excludes social time–if I do fun things with friends, I consider that social rather than entertainment. I'm referring to personal entertainment.

Then there are other random things.

Overall, this is an evaluation of how my day went. I expect this one to have the least crossoffs, but that's okay.

Anchor Habit 4: On-Time Sleep

The final closer of the day. Sleep by 9 pm. I use smarthome technology to assist me with this by having the lights in my room automatically turn off and my internet to my devices cut off. The lights turning off hints at me to turn off the lights in my brain, and the internet turning off for my devices removes any temptation or reason to stay awake.

If I get to sleep by 9 pm, I'll mark this box as done.

Concluding Thoughts

Anchor habits are the key to unlocking amazing amounts of productivity. Just like anything worthwhile, they take time to build. But the payout is most certainly worthwhile.

While I'm not perfect in following my anchor habits everyday, they do a good job of keeping me accountable so I can best utilize my time.


Jerry Zhang

Programmer, YouTuber, and amateur musician. I like to write too!