20 Micro Life-Changing Habits You Can Start Today That Require Only a Few Minutes

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“Habit is stronger than reason, George Santayana said. Most people will go through life and never deliberately change or question their habits. They do the same things and generally keep things as they are.

“The great thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are going,” Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr once said.

At some point in our lives, however, we must ask ourselves a question: What kind of life do I want to lead? Are my habits still serving me or bringing out the best in me? What can I do differently to get the results or outcome I’ve always wanted?

“By developing and practicing good habits each day, you affirm that you do have control over the very core of your life in the midst of the chaos,” argues Stephen Guise.

Habits have a direct effect on your personal and professional life. Changing your life doesn’t have to be difficult, especially if you start small, build up and repeat the behaviors that deliver what you want.

“All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision, says James Clear.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by new behaviors. Keep things simple, and aim for a tiny change at a time. Once you’ve achieved your first goal, you’ll be more motivated and ready to take on the next one.

Adopting good habits one at a time can start building the right momentum in your life. As your habits continue to stick, you will begin to change your life one practice at a time. “Choose the life that is most useful, and habit will make it the most agreeable,” Francis Bacon said.

  1. Start your day with a glass of water instead of a cup of coffee. It flushes your body and helps you stay hydrated before your day begins. And remember to stay hydrated throughout the day.

  2. If you can’t go for a morning run or walk, stretch for a few minutes. These are really, really short workouts by the New York Times.

  3. If you ride on accomplishments to keep going, make your bed first thing in the morning. It feels you a sense of achievement at the right time of day to make your day successful.

  4. Before you start work, remind yourself of your to-do list from the night before and get those done first. It minimizes decision-making in the morning, so you can put your peak mental energy into important work.

  5. Want to improve your sleep? Move your bedtime up by 15 minutes. You will barely notice, but it can make a difference.

  6. What are your snack options? If you eat more chips, start replacing them with healthy options; nuts, vegetable chips, granola bars, etc.

  7. Set 2–4 daily priorities for the day. Limiting your to-do list allows you to focus and get real work done. Be clear about the results you expect.

  8. Make time for reading; at least 30 minutes. An hour is ideal. Your intellectual and personal growth depends on it.

  9. Start a brain dump at the end of your day. Pour out everything on your mind in a notebook. Don’t worry about the format. Just write. It can reduce stress, worry and anxiety.

  10. Separate your weekly to-do list from your daily to-do list to keep things in perspective. Aim to check off your daily tasks. Remember, you don’t need more than 5 important tasks every day.

  11. Get outside on your breaks. It’s an opportunity to clear your head, recharge and improve your focus when you get back to work.

  12. End your day on a good note by tidying up your workspace. Visual clutter drains cognitive energy, reducing your ability to concentrate.

  13. Deliberately take deep breaths all day to improve oxygen circulation throughout your body; most people breathe into their upper chest.

  14. To minimize mental clutter, embrace mono-tasking. Multi-tasking rarely achieves the results we expect.

  15. In your daily conversations, listen more than you speak. “You learn nothing when you’re the only one speaking.” — Ellie Hearne

  16. Schedule moments of solitude to free your mind from distractions, contemplate, increase self-awareness, and reflect on your life and career trajectory.

  17. Make lifelong learning a daily habit. Life is an open book. There’s more to learn if you keep an open mind. “Anyone who isn’t embarrassed of who they were last year probably isn’t learning enough.” — Alain de Botton

  18. Make downtime a priority. Make sure you schedule some time aside every day to relax, recharge and enjoy the company of family and friends.

  19. For the first and last hour of your day, vow to stay away from your phone. It improves mental clarity and helps you sleep respectively.

  20. Appreciate even the smallest experiences you usually ignore; quality time with social connections, sunrise and sundown, the sight and sound of nature, staring at the moon and philosophizing about life. They help reconnect your mind and body back to the present.

This article originally appeared in Medium.

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