13 Life-Hacks You Can Apply in 60 Seconds (or Less)
When I first discovered the world of personal growth at the age of 19, I was amazed by all those radical changes self-help gurus recommend.
“Avoid friends who are small-minded,” they say. Or: “Get up at 5 A.M.”
But even though all their radical tips can be helpful, I gradually became more interested in small shifts and tiny actions that could help me live and feel better without much hassle.
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Use the ABC Method to your advantage
Next time you feel distracted or unfocused, use the ABC method to regain your clarity in just a few seconds.
First, become aware of your surroundings and options by asking yourself the following questions:
What’s making you feel uncomfortable or distracted?
What disturbed your workflow or concentration?
Next, breathe deeply to let go of the tension and relax your body.
And last but not least, choose what to do next. Pick one specific action item you can complete and immediately take action, no matter how big or small.
Apply the “60-second rule” (and sometimes, extend it)
Originally, productivity guru David Allen coined the “two-minute” rule. According to him, anything that could be completed in two minutes should be completed right away.
Even though Allen is taking about two minutes, I like to think of it as a “60-second-rule” because it reminds me that many annoying tasks take way less time than we usually think.
Putting the dishes into the dishwasher after having lunch doesn’t take more than a minute.
Putting the garbage out doesn’t take more than a minute.
Paying a bill, booking an appointment, putting your coffee cup away, making your bed, sending a lovely text message, tidying your desk — most of the time, these things can be done in under a minute.
And if it takes a little more than 60 seconds, so what? It’s still better to get them done immediately than putting them on an endless to-do list.
Make a compliment every day
A 2012 study claims that receiving a compliment has the same positive effect as receiving cash — particularly when used in classrooms and rehabilitation.
Other studies even proved that compliments could shape our memory, motivation, and focus because they lead to a release of dopamine.
“If you see something beautiful in someone, speak it.”
— Ruthie Lindsey
And let’s be honest, being responsible for someone else’s happiness, even if it’s only for a few seconds, is a great feeling for the giver of the compliment too.
You don’t need to come up with crazy compliments, either — just be open about telling people what you admire about them.
If you like someone’s shirt or hair, tell her.
If you admire someone’s resilience, courage, discipline, work ethic, creativity, punctuality, confidence, or humor, tell her.
If someone helped you learn something new or gain a new perspective, tell her.
Get reminded of your younger self (or someone else you genuinely care about)
As a writer, I spend a significant share of my time typing words.
And with each post I publish, I aim to help people live simpler, happier, and easier lives while focusing on the few things in life that truly matter.
When I write, I have my younger self in mind: I think of 16-year-old me who would’ve benefited from the lessons I share, and I hope that my words are equally valuable for other people around the globe.
When I don’t feel like doing the work, I remind myself of my younger version and try to make her proud, regardless of how I feel.
I do the same when I need to make a tough decision or when I’m in an uncomfortable situation like an argument with my partner.
Most of the time, I know that my younger self would think that the argument is ridiculous, which essentially helps me focus on how I want to show up and experience my life overall.
If you don’t feel that connection to your younger self, you can also use the same pattern by thinking about your kids, parents, siblings, or anyone else who’s close to your heart.
If you’re honest, you’ll admit that all these people just want the best for you. This will make it easier for you to make decisions that benefit yourself.
Or do this
Alternatively, you can create a vision board that represents your dreams, goals, affirmations, and how you want to experience life.
Whenever you feel unmotivated, stuck, or frustrated, use your board as a source of inspiration to keep going. You can print out a small copy and keep it in your wallet or just keep a picture of it on your phone.
Clean your desk when you’re done with work
By leaving your desk tidy and clean, you’re making your next-day-self a favor, so just do it.
Starting your workday on a clean and tidy desk just feels so much better than coming back to a desk full of crumbled pieces of paper and empty cups.
Additionally, cleaning your workspace can serve as a little mental reset to tell your body and mind that you’re now done with work and ready for some downtime. This is particularly relevant if you’re working from home because staying at the same place all day long makes it harder to create boundaries between work and the rest of your life.
Do this if you’re “bad with names”
Try this if you often find yourself forgetting the names of people you recently met:
As soon as someone introduces herself, repeat her name. E.g., if we’d meet for the first time, and I’d tell you, “Hi, I’m Sinem!”, you could say: “Hi Sinem, nice to meet you!”. That way, you’re pronouncing my name at least once, which makes it easier for you to remember it, especially if it’s a name that’s new to you.
Second, try to use the name again during the conversation. At the latest, when we say goodbye, you could say, “Bye Sinem, it was nice to meet you.”
On top of helping you memorize names, this will also help you be more likable because most people love hearing their names.
Turn off (almost) all notifications on your devices
If you only apply one of these life-hacks, let it be this: Turn off notifications.
Each bing and blink make it harder for you to stay focused, productive, and mindful throughout the day.
Studies even proved that getting back to our productive workflow after being disturbed by a notification can take us around 23 minutes.
Just imagine how much more you could get done and how much more spare time you could have if you wouldn’t let those stupid notifications steal your time.
And the truth is, most notifications aren’t important or urgent anyway.
Do this when you can’t sleep
Next time you’re struggling to relax or fall asleep at night, try the 4–7–8 breathing technique. It’s an ancient yogic practice that helps you control your breath, let go of tension, and create a relaxing response in your body.
To start, sit or lie comfortably and place the tip of your tongue against the back of your two front teeth. Leave your tongue there for the entire exercise.
Start by exhaling through your mouth and make a whooshing sound while doing so.
Next, close your lips and inhale through your nose while counting to four.
Hold your breath for seven seconds.
And lastly, exhale through your mouth while counting to eight and again make a whoosh sound.
Repeat the cycle up to four times.
Start your day with your favorite music
Cause why not?!
You deserve those short moments of joy throughout the day and listening to your favorite songs first thing in the morning is one of the simplest ways to bring a little more excitement to your day.
Make sure you’re getting enough Vitamin D
Vitamin D is also called the “sunshine vitamin” and serves several vital functions in our bodies.
A lack of vitamin D can lead to a weaker immune system, fatigue, depression, anxiety, bone and hair loss, as well as weight gain — all things we’d prefer to avoid, right?
The only problem is that our bodies can’t “create” vitamin D without sunlight, so we need to take care of it ourselves by eating the right foods or through supplements.
This is particularly relevant during winter months when we’re not exposed to sunlight and spend most of our time indoors.
Keep a gratitude diary
Start or end each day by writing down 3–5 things you’re grateful for.
Research found that a sense of gratitude leads to greater happiness. When we’re grateful, we focus more on positive things because we can’t be thankful and fearful at the same time.
You can use a simple journal, an app like the Five Minute Journal, or try a five-year memory book.
It’s not really about how exactly you express your gratitude. It’s about acknowledging and appreciating all the blessings you’re surrounded by.
“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”
— Eckhart Tolle
When you’re annoyed by someone, think of one positive trait or strength
This will help you shift your perspective and focus on the bright side.
You don’t ever have to tell her what you think. Just ask yourself what you could learn from that person to make your life a little better.
In the long run, your life is the result of the decisions you make each day.
And sometimes, we make decisions that can change the entire course of our lives within just a few seconds.
However, the ideas I shared above are none of these decisions.
Cleaning your desk won’t magically change your life, but it’ll help you feel a little better and work more productively.
Turning off notifications won’t magically change your life either, but it’ll help you save precious time, which you can use to actually make a change.
Don’t expect radical changes to happen within seconds — or even days. But embrace one of life’s toughest truths: Everything always changes.
And every day, you can try to make little changes that help you become the person you’re meant to be.
CONTRIBUTED BY Sinem Günel