When I read Gretchen Rubin’s book Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, I started a love affair with habits. I’ve always loved setting goals, but I’d often end up frustrated with myself (or blame it on not enough hours in a day) if I didn’t get enough accomplished in a week. Then I read this snippet from Gretchen’s book: “With the right habits in place, you can effortlessly go through your day and do the things you want to do.” That’s when I decided to focus more on my habits than an endless list of to-dos. What did I discover? In just 10 minutes a day you can accomplish something that, over time, will move you toward the life you really want.
1. Read every day
Before having twin toddlers, I was much better at reading every day. Pre-kiddos reading is much easier for all of us, but we can give ourselves the gift of reading with just 10 minutes before going to bed. And on nights when you have the energy or get absorbed in a really good part, you just may read on.
2. Help one person
I write this on my to-do list each day. You can help someone by giving a compliment, writing a positive review, making a referral to give someone a business lead, cooking/baking and sharing, really listening, recommending a book, introducing new friends or forwarding an article.
3. Drink water
We all know we are supposed to drink a ton of the stuff every day (8 glasses of 8 ounces) but who does it? Keep a reusable water bottle within arm’s reach all day (carry it with you everywhere) and you will easily get enough water. Your 10 minutes of sipping will be dispersed throughout the day.
4. Reach out
My dad lives several states away, so I cut out articles I think he might like and send them to him snail mail. Or I send him a picture or two of his granddaughters because he doesn’t do Facebook. In just 10 minutes, you can write a short note, or send an email to someone you care about or love.
5. Generate ideas
We are always busy doing. Or busy being busy. Take 10 minutes for creative brainstorm time. Blog ideas. Business ideas. Come up with new experiences to do with your family. Having something to look forward to makes us happier.
6. Keep your journal from collecting dust
I would love to write pages of stream-of-consciousness thoughts for as long as I wanted. But since I don’t have that luxury, I take 10 minutes instead to write a short list about three things I am grateful for. Bonus: This practice makes you happier.
7. Take a short walk
I am a wee bit competitive with myself and others. If I am down steps on my Fitbit and far from my daily goal, I can jog in place while I watch the nightly news. Too much sitting isn’t good for you anyway. Take the whole family for a 10-minute walk post-dinner…now that it’s lighter longer.
8. Learn something new
I’d totally appreciate college more now than I did when I actually attended. If you like taking notes and learning new things, take 10 minutes a day and tune in to a podcast, watch a video, read an informative article or watch part of a webinar. Watch your knowledge grow by leaps and bounds.
9. Clean out one small thing
It may be too daunting to tackle the piles that seem to have grown by themselves all over your house (or office) like stalagmites, but if you take 10 minutes to deal with one discrete pile or corner, you will gain a definite sense of accomplishment.
10. Make your own habits list
My list might not be your list. What habits would shift your days into the direction you want to head? Gretchen writes: “There's a great satisfaction in knowing that we've made good use of our days, that we've lived up to our expectations of ourselves.” Now take 10 minutes and make your habits list. See if you can effortlessly plow through those habits tomorrow.
Sandra Bienkowski is a regular contributor to Live Happy and the founder and CEO of TheMediaConcierge.net.