To build something big, you first need to get the small things right.
Most people overestimate the power of radical changes and underestimate the effect of small, regular habits.
Yet, sometimes, two minutes per day can change your next 20 years. And in most cases, it’s not sudden breakthroughs that change someone’s life, but the small rules followed every single day.
You don’t always need to go the extra mile and do the big things, but you need to be consistent.
Each day is a fresh opportunity to make a change and the following habits can be your foundation for becoming a happier, healthier, and wealthier version of yourself.
They might not seem like a big deal, but if you practice them regularly, they can change almost all areas of your life.
Ask More Questions
Most misconceptions and disagreements could be eliminated if we’d ask more questions and communicate more openly.
Additionally, asking questions shows people that you’re genuinely interested in the conversation.
If it Takes Less Than 5 Minutes, Do it Immediately
Most tasks you procrastinate on aren’t even worth the procrastination.
Each time you procrastinate on something that would take you less than five minutes to complete, you’re losing motivation and wasting mental energy because you’re thinking of the task without completing it.
In his book Getting Things Done, David Allen describes the 2-Minute Rule, claiming that you should get anything done immediately if it takes less than two minutes to complete. In my opinion, you can even take it to five minutes.
This includes tasks such as taking out the garbage, writing replies to important emails or text messages, cleaning up clutter, or paying bills.
If it takes less than five minutes to complete, it’s not even worth a spot on your to-do list — just do it.
Log Out of Social Media Apps
Research shows that the global average social media usage per day is around two and a half hours.
If you log out of social media apps, you’ll need to log in next time you want to access them. This small obstacle will remind you to be more mindful when using your phone.
Spend Some Time Alone
We often surround ourselves with other people because we’re afraid of being alone.
Yet, spending some time in silence and being fully present without disruptions will allow you to process your thoughts and feelings.
You don’t need to be around others all the time. Instead, take some time off and allow yourself to unwind, listen to your inner voice, and take care of yourself.
Your me-time will help you clear your mind, be more creative, reset your priorities, and slow down.
“Alone time is when I distance myself from the voices of the world so I can hear my own.”
Eat the Rainbow
The healthiest food is colorful and the more different veggies and fruits you combine for a meal, the better.
Eating more fruits and veggies will help you get all the nutrients you need, but it’ll also increase your energy levels.
You can start small by adding one more color to your daily diet and gradually increase the colors on your plate — a cup of blueberries, some carrots, a small side salad, an apple,…
Eliminate as Many Decisions as Possible
Most people are bad decision-makers and waste hundreds of hours on insignificant or even redundant choices every year.
The good news, however, is that you can eliminate tons of decisions: You can prepare your outfit, your meals, your to-do list, and so much more before going to bed. By doing so, you ensure that you don’t waste precious mental energy on insignificant decisions the next morning.
Be on Time
Being punctual is so simple yet underrated; it shows others that you have control over your time and helps you be more relaxed.
Most people claim to be bad at names while the reality is that they’re just not interested.
That’s why we feel charmed when someone we met recently actually remembers our name.
“Not knowing people’s names isn’t a neurological condition; it’s a choice. You choose not to make learning people’s names a priority. It’s like saying, ‘Hey, a disclaimer about me: I’m rude.”
— Mindy Kaling
To leave a good first impression, be more patient and pay attention to people’s names so that you can recall them when you meet again.
Go to Bed at the Same Time Every Day
This helps your body get a good rest and will make your life easier as you’ll have fewer decisions to make by sticking to a regular sleep routine.
Cross Something Off Your To-Do List
Too often, we intend to get way more done than possible. We write infinite to-do lists and end up wondering why we feel so stressed.
But the truth is that you could likely cross some of your to-do’s off without losing anything. You don’t have to be busy all the time. You can relax, take things slowly, and proceed at your own speed.
The easiest way to figure out which tasks you can eliminate is by using the Eisenhower Matrix and ranking your to-dos according to importance and urgency.
Track Your Expenses
“You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you.”
— Dave Ramsey
I like money — I work hard for it and I don’t like not knowing how I spend it. That’s why I tracked every penny I spent during the past three years.
This helps me be more cautious when making purchases and have clarity over my financial resources.
I use an app called Toshl and it takes me two seconds to enter a new expense and categorize it. At the end of the month, I take 10 minutes to reflect on my expenses.
Soak Up the Sun
From an evolutionary perspective, our bodies are used to getting sunlight during the day and to darkness when going to bed. Yet, most of us are exposed to artificial light all day long, which messes up our natural biorhythm.
This confuses our bodies and holds us back from feeling and performing at our best. Whenever possible, make sure to get some sunlight throughout the day — in the best case, do it in the morning.
This will help you feel more energized and improve your immune system.
Saying “No” to the wrong opportunities, appointments, and people will allow you to say hell yeah to the great ones.
Your time and energy are limited and each time you say yes to something, you’re likely saying no to something different. Train your “no-muscle” by canceling everything that doesn’t serve your happiness, health, or wealth in the long run.
Fill Your Non-Productive Times With Inspiration
Most people aren’t even aware of how much time we usually waste with non-productive tasks that need to get done every single day.
Cooking, cleaning up, commute, waiting in line, or running errands are just some of many more examples.
If you add all these times up, you end up with hundreds of hours per year. This might sound terrifying, but here’s the good news: You can use that time to feed your brain.
You can make use of these idle times by listening to audiobooks or podcasts. That way, you can educate or motivate yourself without spending any additional time on it.
Delete Apps and Unfollow People
Clutter on your digital devices often leads to clutter in your mind. We often keep unnecessary apps, images, and contacts on our smartphones. These only cause notifications and distract us.
Getting rid of them will help you have more space and energy for the important stuff in life.
Celebrate Your Wins
At the end of your day, you look at your to-do list and you see what you didn’t accomplish yet. You get frustrated because there are three more tasks you wanted to complete.
And you don’t even think of all your wins and the things you actually did get done. But the truth is that you’re getting more done than you might realize. You just don’t acknowledge it because you focus on the next task at hand.
At least once per day, take a minute to acknowledge all the things you accomplish and celebrate your wins — no matter how big or small they are.
Go With Your Flow
If you want to get more done in less time, you need to increase your daily energy level, improve your ability to focus on one task at a time, and go with the flow of your body instead of fighting against it.
Slow Down While Eating
Most people are so used to eating on-the-go that they don’t even realize whether they’re full or not. That doesn’t only lead to weight gain, but it also harms our mental health.
Slowing down while eating your meals and being more mindful at the dining table can help you lose weight and be more relaxed.
On average, eating a meal won’t take you more than 15 minutes anyway — so turn off the tv and put your phone away while eating. Instead, focus on nourishing your body with a healthy meal and enjoy each bite. This might sound boring, but it’ll help you avoid overeating, absorb the nutrients better, and be more mindful.
Drink More Water
You’d be surprised if you knew how many problems result from not drinking enough water. Lack of energy, overeating, mood swings, fatigue, and irritated skin are just some of the most frequent causes.
And let’s be honest: Drinking water isn't that difficult. Adding one additional cup to your daily routine is so simple yet comes with great benefits for your health and energy.
You can set a silent hourly alarm on your phone that reminds you to take a sip or keep a hydration tracker so that you know how much you still need to drink throughout the day.
Eliminate Impulse Purchases
To build wealth, you need to do two things:
- Increase your income
- And/Or decrease your expenses
The most dangerous expenses happen when you buy something without thinking much about it. In most cases, these purchases turn out to be unnecessary.
Next time you see something you’d like to buy, wait for at least 24 hours before paying for it. This will help you avoid emotional choices and decide whether you really want or need that item.
Write Down 3 Things You’re Grateful for Every Day
“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.”
— Zig Ziglar
If you keep chasing things in the future, you won’t ever be fully satisfied in the present. True happiness occurs when you’re thankful and pay attention to the present moment.
Taking a few minutes to appreciate your blessings will improve your mindfulness and boost your energy.
Talk About Money
If you avoid talking about money, you neglect controlling your financial status. Yet talking about money is the first step toward taking control of your finances.
You can, for instance, start by talking about specific purchases you made and ask your friends whether they think it was a good deal or not.
“Money will have a greater influence on your life than almost any other commodity you can think of.”
— Bob Proctor
Never Make a Phone Call While Sitting
Lack of movement doesn’t only hurt your physical wellbeing, but it also harms your productivity.
If most of your days are spent sitting, you should aim to interrupt your sitting as much as possible.
You can set an alarm that reminds you to get up and do some stretching exercises, go on a walk before and after work, walk during casual meetings, or move around when making phone calls.
Have a Power Outfit
Standing in front of a full wardrobe and not knowing what to wear for an important occasion can feel pretty frustrating. That’s why having at least one power outfit that fits well and makes you feel comfortable is priceless.
Whenever you’re in a rush or don’t know what to wear, you can grab these basics that fit well, so you’re sure you look good.
If possible, you can even dedicate a small section in your closet to go-to pieces so that you can always create a nice outfit within a few seconds.
Designate a Spot for Things You Lose or Forget Often
Keys, sunglasses, headphones,…we all have these things we lose or forget too often. And while forgetting or losing stuff every now and then might not sound like a big deal, it causes lots of unnecessary stress.
Having designated spots for crucial items will help you be more relaxed. You can, for instance, create a little space in the entry area of your home where you place stuff like keys or sunglasses.
Once you get used to putting these things at the same place, it’ll become a habit, and won’t need to worry again.
Say What You Mean
Being straight on point and saying exactly what you mean will help you get what you want. It’ll make your life but also the lives of your fellows easier.
Take Breaks Without Hesitation
If you always try to give your best without resting and taking care of your mental and physical wellbeing, you’ll one day be forced to take a break.
Whenever you feel stressed out, go to a quiet place, lock the door, and breathe for a minute. Sometimes, even a 1-minute break can help you feel more aligned and energized.
Scrape Your Tongue
Even though you might brush and floss your teeth, your mouth stays full of bacteria, fungi, toxins, and dead cells if you don’t scrape your tongue.
Scraping your tongue promotes good oral and digestive health, improves your ability to taste, stimulates internal organs, and is a defense against bad breath.
Contact One Loved Person Every Day
Maintaining relationships isn’t always easy. Sometimes, you think of a friend you haven’t heard of for months but fail to call or text them because you’re too busy and life gets in your way.
Even though we’re all busy, a 10-minute call or a quick text message is doable for each of us.
Staying in touch with your loved ones and nourishing your relationships will make you feel better and give you new perspectives on life.
I don’t expect you to follow all these tiny habits at once. However, I encourage you to ask yourself which of them you could incorporate into your daily life with ease.
Quite often, small steps can lead to significant changes in the long run. As James Clear preaches:
“Changes that seem small and unimportant at first will compound into remarkable results if you’re willing to stick with them for years.”
Eating more veggies, writing down what you’re grateful for, or drinking more water won’t suddenly change your life. But if you follow these rules consistently, they can indeed lead to remarkable differences in your health, productivity, career, and relationships.
Great changes always start with one small step; what’s your first small step?
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