In this post, we are going to look at 10 little habits that can have some big benefits. Often the difference between people who are healthy vs. unhealthy, educated vs. uneducated, rich vs. poor comes down to a bunch of little habits that compound overtime. Because of this, it is worth thinking about the “little” things once in a while and seeing if your individual habits are guiding you toward success or failure in life.
1. Take the stairs
Obviously this isn’t going to work if you are on the 100th floor of an office building, but if you work on the 3rd or 4th floor, taking the stairs can often save you time and help offset some effects of a sedentary workday. It isn’t just about taking stairs, either. Simple things such as taking the first parking space you find and walking an extra 40 feet to the store can save time and help keep you healthy.
2. Exercise while watching TV
We do not have a couch in front of our television. Instead, we have two elliptical machines and some other exercise equipment. Our general rule is: if you are going to watch TV, you should be exercising.
Linking an entertainment activity with something that gives you a strong benefit (like exercise) is a simple way to help push yourself toward a healthier lifestyle.
3. Open the mail over a recycle bin
If something is useless to you, you want to handle it only once and never see it again. What you don’t want to do is look through the mail, set it down, look through it again, sort it into stuff to keep and stuff to toss, re-sort the stuff to toss, etc. It may not seem like much time, but any wasted time that you do 6 days a week is going to add up over the years.
4. Get off mailing lists
It is great to handle only items that need to be tossed a single time, but it is even better not to receive them at all. This is especially true of email. It is so easy to get into the habit of just deleting specific emails every day instead of taking the time to stop them at their source.
5. Put your keys in the same place
If you are spending several minutes a few times a week looking for your keys, you are spending far too much time on something that can easily be prevented. The small amount of time invested in putting them in the correct place will give you huge returns in time saved.
(And from personal experience, I can tell you that keeping your keys somewhere that your two-year-old can reach them is not advisable.)
6. Back up your computer
Everyone knows that backing up their computer is a good idea, but it is amazing how many people don’t do it–even after they have lost a lot of data. A simple backup strategy takes very little time to prevent the waste of a huge amount of time in a data loss.
7. Delay impulse purchases
The simple habit of saying, “Let me think about this some more,” before making a purchase can save more than money. Everything we bring into our lives has a cost in time and attention. The more we acquire, the more time and resources we have to dedicate to caring for our “stuff.” Simple habits that help us be more careful what we buy are well worth the effort they require.
8. Talk to people
The majority of the opportunities you have in your life will come through people you know. It is worth it to take the time to get to know people. This isn’t entirely selfish. Most of the opportunities other’s have come from people they know as well. By taking the time to meet and talk with people, you are helping both of you. I’d highly recommend reading the book Never Eat Alone for some ideas on how to develop and maintain relationships with the people you meet.
9. Drink more water
Most people could drink a few more glasses of water each day and still be under what is recommended. It is easy to overlook just how important water is in the way our body works. As with most things, moderation is important. Simply gorging yourself on water can throw off your chemistry. A radio station in California found this out when a contestant in their water drinking contest died.
8 glasses of water per day is recommended. Most people could add a few glasses a day to their diet and still not be consuming that amount.
10. Split food
When I talk to people from other countries about what they found different in America, one thing that often comes up is the food portions. In the U.S., restaurants tend to give people very large helpings of food. My wife and I have found that we can often split a meal and be completely satisfied, but if we get separate meals we’ll eat well more than what we need.
We don’t make this a hard rule, but simply having it on our radar as a possible option when we go out to eat helps keep us from overeating.