It’s the small things that have a big impact. Small habits can affect the rest of your life and small decisions you make every hour can make or break your day. Sometimes you don’t have to do anything big to start changing your days for the better.
In the past few years, I’ve adopted mindfulness, and this also means I noticed and recognized the impact of small habits in the overall quality of my life–physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. All these habits help me achieve my goals and become more focused and organized in everything I do.
Every day is an opportunity for a fresh start, and every hour or minute you skip is a missed opportunity to become a better version of yourself. It’s really that small and that simple.
Wake Up Early
It’s cliche and always mentioned because it really does work. Early risers are more productive and find more time to address their challenges instead of cramming and trying to catch up all day.
A study suggests that rising early in the morning influences your attention positively and can help improve your ability to recall information (1). This is crucial especially if you perform tasks that require attention and memory everyday.
It’s like setting your own body clock. You sleep at a similar time each night, and you wake up at a similar time each day, even on weekends. It’s probably one of the hardest things to start with, but once you get used to it, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner and you’ll be amazed at how much it changes your day and your life. You get things done before lunch! You get to do a lot more during your day.
Use Visual Cues
Vision boards work for a reason. It’s the same way for any other activity or new habit you want to establish. Want to cook at home more? Do you have everything you need like sharp knives and your favorite spices? Need to take your vitamins consistently? You need to put them where you WILL see them and take them, like maybe your desk or even beside your kitchen sink if that’s where you go to wash before and after eating.
You can also do this to practice a regular workout. Try placing your workout clothes in plain view, such as on your sofa, or just on top of your other clothes in the closet to remind you about your daily workout schedule. Or place your upright bike right there in front of the TV!
Plan Your Meals And Eat At Home
Too busy to cook and tons of apps for delivery means we pick convenience and speed more often than not.
A study shows that people who enjoy their own home cooked food rather than eating take outs are 28% less likely to be overweight (2). When you plan and put healthy ingredients together yourself, you have total control over the food you’re consuming.
Aside from monitoring what you eat, planning meals helps you save a lot of time and money. You know exactly what you’ll have for each meal and you won’t have to overspend on irresistible add-ons for delivery or just randomly picking things up at the supermarket.
There’s also something so relaxing about prepping ingredients and cooking. You’ll be surprised at how many nice ideas you get. When you prep and cook, you give yourself time to decompress and think and listen to yourself.
Believe That You Are Who You Want To Be
According to James Clear in his famous book, Atomic Habits, the beliefs you have in yourself impact your long-term behavior.
For example, you can believe you’re someone who doesn’t clutter and you will soon stop having clutter at home. You can believe you’re a healthy and fit person who chooses healthy food and that’s what you’ll become soon enough.
Your habits reflect you as a person. When you fix your bed every morning after waking up, you show that you’re an organized person. When you workout daily and follow a healthy diet, you show that you’re a physically fit and overall healthy person.
It’s amazing how many of us think and say, “I’m so lazy so I need easy workouts” or “I’m such a packrat so my house is a mess.”
It’s time you declare and believe that you are better than that.
Getting organized might be one of the basics, but gurus keep telling you this because it works. It’s okay if you don’t feel a hundred percent organized everyday. Done is better than perfect. Forming good organizational habits and a concrete daily routine can already make a big difference in your life.
De-cluttering can even help you save money from accidentally buying more grocery stuff when you still have a complete stock and you just didn’t notice because of all the clutter you have in your kitchen.
Once you get used to the habit of preparing things before you need them, you’ll never want to go back to your old cramming self again.
A cluttered environment reduces your brain’s ability to focus and process information which can make you feel frustrated while working (3). Organizing and de-cluttering your space can help you work more efficiently while keeping yourself free from extra stress.
This is part of being organized. Just put everything down on paper. Out of your head and onto a Notepad or Google Doc, an old-school notebook, or an app meant for this.
Organizing your to-do list is a life-changing hack especially if you wear many hats at the same time. Creating a brain dump of everything you have to do, big or small, helps you get your thoughts and ideas out of your head and organize them.
This is a powerful habit for productivity and goal achievement. Several psychologists like Dr. David Cohen and Dr. Bluma Zeigarnik, on separate studies, found that making to-do lists helps us get more organized and create an achievable, concrete plan we can stick to, tasks broken down into detailed, specific steps instead of huge tasks you just dodge (4).
Professors Baumeister and Masicampo also found that making plans to get things done takes the stress and anxiety away instead of just burying your to-do’s in your mind.
It also helps us visualize what we accomplished for a certain day and gives us motivation to always keep moving.
You give yourself direction and deadlines. It just works.
The Two-Minute Rule
Practicing the two-minute rule is the best way to stop you from procrastinating on small tasks. If something will only take two minutes or less to complete, just do it now.
That means your bed gets made. Your dining table is cleared of clutter. Your desk is tidy. Eventually, you’ll discover ways on how to scale down your tasks into manageable chunks that can easily be done.
For example, cleaning your room might be too overwhelming so you’ll end up procrastinating and waiting for the weekend to do it. But if you clean the clutter on your desk right now, you’ve already made a good start and you’ll feel great. It’s one thing done. What’s next?
Small chunks of accomplished tasks can make a difference rather than a whole bunch of tasks left undone.
Drink More Water.
Like an engine, our body malfunctions without proper water intake. It’s hard to concentrate and be alert if we’re dehydrated. Dehydration can also disable you from engaging in physical activities and increase your risk of acquiring urinary system diseases (5).
Drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning and more water throughout the day, and making it a part of your daily routine adds up to your overall wellness. Maintaining a minimum of eight glasses of water a day is a great way to fuel your body. Even if you leave your home, it’s better to take a tumbler full of water with you to keep you hydrated all the time, especially if you’re working out.
You lose electrolytes when you sweat. Gym people often drink water with electrolytes to replace what they lost when they work out. The principal electrolytes, sodium, potassium and chloride, are essential components that should be included in your diet (6). When dissolved in water, they release charged ions which help maintain the function of your muscles and nerve cells.
You will soon notice the difference when you’re fully hydrated.
This is a small decision with big impact. By simply deciding to keep going, it’s amazing how much you can accomplish.
You know the scenario. Sometimes we just want to get a shower and fall to bed. Or at least some downtime on the sofa after getting home or getting done with a full day.
Here’s a fact: Once you stop moving, you’ll stop moving. It’s harder to move again later on. A body at rest stays at rest. A body in motion stays in motion. So look at what else you can tackle before you stop.
Take that momentum and keep going until you’re done. There’s a reason your mom can keep cleaning all day and doesn’t seem to stop. Simply because she doesn’t stop! That’s the secret.
Reset Whenever You Need It.
We often wait for a special time to restart just as much as you wait for January 1st to start working on your New Year’s resolution.
These time markers help you set a distinction between the past and the present, and give you enough time to disconnect from what’s already behind you.
That’s just a construct, though. You can restart at any point, any time, any day. You don’t need to wait.
Acknowledge that you need a reset and do it right away. Had a bad hour? That’s fine. It’s no longer part of your morning. You can reset. Don’t wait until tomorrow and do the reset right now.
Whatever happened yesterday or an hour ago is done and you can no longer go back and fix it. It should no longer affect your day. It has nothing to do with what’s coming ahead of you.
Pair your reset with a concrete action. You can get some coffee and pause for a while. Or try leaving the room. Just walk out. Or even take a walk outside. Or go somewhere in the house or office you can be alone to maybe thump a counter or scream into a pillow or shake it out in a few kickboxing moves.
When you get back, you feel renewed, ready to move forward and start again.
Let’s stop this belief that something can ruin an entire day. Few things actually can. It’s all on your own decisions in how you react or handle it.
Becoming A Better Version Of Yourself
Changing your life can start from small things. Start today and make the changes you’ve been wanting to make. Don’t give up! Powerful habits require self discipline and persistence.
Ready to take action? Champ City is your partner in improving your overall wellness through comprehensive consultation and personalized programs. Talk to one of our professionals and start your journey towards a better version of yourself today.
- Kumaran, V.S., Raghavendra, B.R. & Manjunath, N.K. (2012) Influence of early rising on performance in tasks requiring attention and memory https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23781653/
- Mills, S., Brown, H., Wrieden, W., White, M. & Adams, J. (2017) Frequency of eating home cooked meals and potential benefits for diet and health: cross-sectional analysis of a population-based cohort study https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28818089/
- Clark, M. (2021) How decluttering your space could make you healthier and happier https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/how-decluttering-your-space-could-make-you-healthier-and-happier/art-20390064
- Chunn, L. (2017) The psychology of the to-do list – why your brain loves ordered tasks https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/may/10/the-psychology-of-the-to-do-list-why-your-brain-loves-ordered-tasks
- Zhang, N., Du, S.M., Zhang, J. & Ma, G.S. (2019) Effects of Dehydration and Rehydration on Cognitive Performance and Mood among Male College Students in Cangzhou, China: A Self-Controlled Trial https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6603652/
- National Academy of Sciences (1989) Water and Electrolytes https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK234935/