“Why kill yourself trying to make huge changes in your life, when there’s so much you can achieve by making small ones?” my friend Ondrej told me one week ago, when explaining why he is now making a research how to perfectly enjoy his breakfast.
I loved the idea. Inspired by this conversation, over the past week, I took a look at the small changes I made in my own day over the past few weeks. And added a few others. If you’re interested: Here they are.
1. Peace of Mind: 10 minutes
Headspace meditation in the morning. Haven’t tried anything like this before, started in the beginning of January. So far, it’s a great way to tune into the day. No matter what mood I wake up with, this makes me notice that mood in the first place – and then get more calm & relaxed.
10 minutes is exactly how long each session of Headspace “Take Ten” takes.
2. Sunday email pre-screen: 10 minutes
I started scanning work emails on Sunday afternoon. Counter-intuitive at first (so much posts that say never to do it!) it actually makes me more relaxed on Sunday evening. I know exactly what is waiting for me. If there’s nothing to deal with – great! If there’s something big to deal with – so be it. But it’s the knowing that leaves no room for anxiety. From an article recommended by my boss Mr. Weston.
It’s important to stick to the 10 minutes max – the idea is not to start working on Sunday afternoon, just to check what the start of the week will look like!
3. Language Session: 5 minutes
For pockets of time of about 5 minutes: DuoLingo. If you want to kill time, why not at least learn a foreign language while you’re at it? My favorite way of procrastination in the past two weeks. While taking a break from writing this post, I just grabbed my phone and did one 5-minute session. Speak about lack of focus – but hey, a million times better than scrolling through Facebook!
5 minutes – even though it should be “killing dead time”, once you start the session, it will be hard to stop before you finish.
4. A different breakfast: 3 minutes
Persimmon (known as kaki in my local supermarket Billa) with yoghurt & brazil nuts. More light than fried eggs. Less sweet than muesli.
3 minutes to prepare everything, cut the fruit and cut the nuts. Eating time not included!
5. Never Eat Alone: 2 minutes
After exploring my “Quiet” side in 2016, spending most of my lunch breaks alone with a book and a journal, I decided it is time to go with Mr. Ferrazzi’s advice again. At the beginning of the week, I make sure all my lunch breaks are booked by lunches with one of my colleagues. There is so much going on I just can’t find in the books!
2 minutes to arrange the lunch with my colleague over our company instant messenger. Lunch time not included (I would have to eat anyway, would I not?).
6. Confidence booster: 60 seconds
I make my bed every morning. When sleeping at home, I have not missed once since the beginning of the year. Achieve my goals: Yes I can! (even though I’m starting small). A bit more about this in this New Year’s resolutions post.
60 seconds to make my bed. At the time of writing of the resolution post, I was not as skilled and making my bed took me a few minutes longer.
7. Airplane Mode: 10 seconds
I can’t believe it took me so long to discover this! The ultimate productivity booster. More in this airplane post.
5 seconds to take the phone out from my pocket, swipe up, tap the plane, put the phone back into my pocket. 5 extra seconds when I take the phone out from my pocket and need to swipe up and tap the plane again to be able to connect back to the world.
8. Highlight review: No extra time
For mini-pockets of time (2 minutes or less): Instead of checking Facebook, scrolling through the highlights in my Kindle App. Sample result: Got reminded of a line from Daniel Pink’s To Sell Is Human in a chapter on improv: “Making your partner look good doesn’t make you look worse; it actually makes you look better.”
To be used for filling unproductive pockets of time. Should not take extra time by definition.
9. Sketchnoting: No extra time
No more “just text” notes. Now: Sketchnoting. Started as me buying a Christmas gift for my mom (Sketchnote Handbook). Flipped through the book before wrapping it in the gift paper. Ended up buying one more copy for myself. Now sketchnoting makes listening to every presentation fun and every meeting a fascinating adventure.
No extra time. Used when I’m stuck listening on my chair anyway.
10. What’s their story: No extra time
Sitting in a restaurant. A couple enters. A short bald man in a suit. A tall red-haired woman in a dark blue coat. Who are they? Are they together? How did they meet? What were they doing last night?
Quietly practicing my imagination on unsuspecting strangers. Maybe to get some ideas for writing. Maybe – just for the fun of it.
More about this exercise in Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind
No extra time – it’s just focused daydreaming in moments I would be daydreaming less productive… daydreams.
And a few more…
Small and simple. But each of them makes my day quite a bit more enjoyable. Return on Invested!
If you’re a fan of small tricks and hungry for more: Here are 23 small productivity hacks suggested by Inc.
Let me know how it went!