20 Easy Things You Can Do to Improve Your Life

Ever have one of those days? You know the kind I’m talking about: when you barely have time to grab your morning coffee, when your one-minute personal check-in is on the walk to your next meeting, when you come home from work at 7 p.m. feeling like you made time in your day for everyone—except yourself.

There’s no denying it: Stress will always be a part of our day-to-day lives, but it can take a toll on our long-term health. So, instead of tearing through best-selling self-help books or creating lofty goals on how to make this upcoming fall your best (and most stress-free) yet, here are some manageable ways to refocus and recalibrate so you can feel better about today, tomorrow, and the days to come.

 

1. Do five-minute phone calls with friends and loved ones.

Unless you have an hour-long commute after work, setting aside a block of time to catch up with friends and family can be tricky. Instead, opt for a quick five-minute call to say hi, ask what’s going on, or wish them luck for an important project or event. A few minutes of casual conversation with someone you care about lifts your spirits without sucking up your time.

 

2. Declutter your space.

Let’s face it: decluttering can be a daunting task, but organizing a space where you spend a majority of your time—whether it’s at work or home—has countless aesthetic, emotional, and mental benefits. Dedicate one morning this weekend to sorting through your clothes, books, shoes, or papers to determine what you want to keep. Get rid of anything you don’t love or use on a regular basis. Keeping only the items that bring joy and ease to your life will make your closet, desk, or home so much more inviting and accessible. Plus, you’ll have a renewed sense of energy after discarding the items that weighed you down—both literally and figuratively.

 

Source: @kimgenevieve

 

3. Only complain when you can offer a solution to the problem.

We all need our vent sessions, but complaining for complaining’s sake is actually counter-productive: you’re feeding your thoughts with negative attention, instead of looking for a solution. Is your internet connection too slow? Make a quick phone call to your provider to get it sorted out. Is traffic on the way to work terrible? Leave earlier or take a different route. Most problems can be easily remedied. If you can’t find a solution, then the situation is likely out of your control and complaining won’t do anything to fix the problem.

 

4. Look people in the eye when you speak.

Maintaining eye contact is easy when you’re listening, but try doing it when you speak as well. Direct eye contact builds confidence and fosters a connection between two people in conversation. It also makes you appear more trustworthy, self-aware, and self-assured.

 

Source: @aylagurganus

 

5. Do a five-minute kitchen clean.

In just five minutes, you can take out the trash, wipe down your counters, sweep, and throw away any expired items in your fridge. Having a tidy, organized kitchen space will make your post-work dinner prep a breeze, and studies show that keeping your kitchen tidy can actually reduce stress-eating and result in weight loss.  Plus, cleaning for five minutes every day is so much easier than spending an entire Saturday scrubbing your counters and floors.

 

6. Try a new activity.

Sometimes you feel most energized when you test the limits of your comfort zone. Maybe you’ve wanted to visit the cool coffee shop down the street, learn to play guitar, plan a trip out of the country, or try Zumba for the first time—whatever piques your interest, go for it. Experiencing new things leads to increased productivity, renewed creativity, newfound perspectives, fun memories, and—at the very least—an interesting story.

 

7. Practice self-kindness.

Observe your habits, behaviors, and thought processes—are you gentle with yourself? If not, try to pinpoint why and when this occurs, then do your best to actively offer yourself compassion and grace. It could be as simple as taking the time to pay yourself a compliment when you wake up in the morning (try a positive sticky-note on the mirror in your bedroom), or saying “no” to happy hour plans with friends so you can unwind with a book and glass of wine on your couch. Or maybe it means writing down one thing you did each day that made you feel proud, whether it was as big as tackling a new project at work or as small as finally remembering to floss.

 

Source: Emily Wilson

 

8. Break a sweat every day.

However you want to do it — running, walking to work, playing basketball, gym training, furniture rearranging, sex—make sure you get in a sweat every single day. Staying active has infinite physical benefits, and beyond those, it spikes endorphins, making you feel happier post-sweat session.

 

9. Check your bank statement every two weeks and choose one thing you can cut out.

Can you deactivate that auto-subscription service? Can you eliminate your monthly pedicure? Can you cut your happy hour bill in half? Do your best to find one thing, however small or seemingly insignificant it may be, and get rid of it. Chances are you won’t notice the loss, but even if you do, the extra money you’ll be saving will offset the pain of sacrificing your daily latte.

 

10. Keep a gratitude journal.

The best way to pull yourself out of a funk is to actively focus on the good in your life. If you have a few minutes on the train in the a.m., pull out a notebook or the Notes app on your phone and jot down three things you’re grateful for, big or small. It doesn’t have to be extensive: a bullet-point list will do. Taking the time to thoughtfully consider what you’re thankful for puts your life in perspective—and allows you to focus on what you’re lucky to have, instead of what you don’t have.

 

11. Make your bed when you wake up.

It takes less than two minutes (if it takes longer, get rid of your throw pillows) and starts your day on a productive note. Plus, crawling into a freshly made bed at night yields a sounder sleep than plopping on top of your wrinkled, tangled sheets.

 

Source: @devonrachel

 

12. Read a book instead of browsing your phone.

The next time you find yourself sitting around with a half hour to kill, pick up a book or your e-Reader instead of defaulting to your smart phone and scrolling through social media. Engaging with one story or idea, rather than bouncing between hundreds of little pieces of trivial, often irrelevant news, helps your mind stay calm, focused, and present.

A simple trick to ensure you make the time to read? Carry a book or your Kindle in your car, purse, or briefcase, and open it up whenever you’re standing in line, waiting to meet a friend, or twiddling your thumbs before a dentist appointment.

 

13. Say “please” and “thank you”—and mean it.

Basic manners go such a long way in creating a positive environment. Being kind is important. Being kind and sincere is even better. The more genuine kindness you offer to others, the more genuine kindness you’ll see in return. Hold the door for a stranger, thank people for their efforts, say “please” when you order your morning coffee, and smile.

 

14. Focus your attention on the task at hand.

Multi-tasking doesn’t always increase productivity. Focusing on more than one task at a time usually has an adverse effect—we accomplish less and feel more stressed in the process. Be mindful when your thoughts deviate from the task at hand—are you already worrying about the next thing on your to-do list? Or maybe you’re responding to group texts while trying to send out work emails? If so, it’s time to take a breath, put your phone on do not disturb, and refocus. The result? You’ll be 10 times more productive and feel less scattered in the process.

Source: @srhmikaela

 

15. Tackle your most daunting task first.

When you reprioritize your to-do list and place your most dreaded task at the top, its power no longer looms over you all day. Maybe this means getting through your flooded inbox, putting together a proposal, or having that call you’ve been putting off all week. Whatever it is, once you check this major box off your list, you’ll feel so accomplished and ready to take on the more trivial tasks thrown your way.

 

16. Write down your goals and ambitions.

Invest in a small journal to record your life plans and goals. Don’t censor yourself. Simply write down whatever feels exciting and interesting to you—your dream to buy a small boat and learn to sail, your wish to be fluent in Italian, or your hope to have two children.

Taking the time to write down your greatest wants, many of which may have only existed in your mind, is a cathartic and empowering process. Plus, studies have shown that spelling out your dreams in ink can make them feel less intimidating and more attainable.

 

 

17. Think before you speak.

Words have immense power—they can uplift people or cut them down. Whether or not there seem to be real consequences involved in making unfair assumptions or judgments about people, pause and ask yourself these questions adapted from a wise Arabian proverb: “Is what I’m about to say true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?” If what you want to say has no basis in reality, if it’s hurtful, or if it’s irrelevant, opt for silence over thoughtless words that cause damage.

 

18. Drink a tall glass of water when you wake up.

Hydrate. Whether it’s cold, hot, with lemon, with honey, drinking a big glass of water first thing in the morning invigorates you, jumpstarts your metabolism, helps your body flush out toxins, and makes it easier to continue drinking water throughout the day.

 

19. Give praise freely.

The old adage that doling out compliments only gives people an inflated sense of self-worth is ridiculous. Human beings need positive reinforcement and words of affirmation to feel connected and cared about. We need to feel appreciated, valued, and respected.

Be generous with your compliments and praise. If you like your co-worker’s outfit, tell her. If you find yourself admiring your brother’s sense of humor, let him know. Sharing your kind thoughts is the easiest, quickest way to positively impact someone’s day.

 

Source: @barre3

 

20. Make more time for the things you love.

Make time and space in your life for activities you enjoy. Give yourself permission to pursue your interests and cultivate your passions without guilt or fear.

It could be as simple as spending thirty minutes every Saturday morning reading the paper at your favorite cafe, or as time-intensive as setting aside an entire afternoon to work on your latest fiction novel. Maybe it means hosting a monthly dinner party with friends, taking a language course, or spending more time at the park with your pup.

Carving out time to experience the things you love doesn’t just bring you more joy, it also gives you more purpose and a greater sense of fulfillment. Plus, doing things that bring value and meaning to your life makes it easier to deal with whatever setbacks and difficulties come your way.

 

What small changes have you made to improve your day-to-day life? Share with us in the comments below!

 

This post originally appeared on August 30, 2016.

  • Daryl

    This is a great list full of simple, attainable goals! Much appreciated!

    • Paige Ashley Smith

      Thanks, Daryl! Glad you liked it!

  • A glass of wine with dinner, light dinner, a movie before bed, 20min meditation, 10min walk outside in the middle of the day, having healthy home cooked lunch, eating 1 Brazilian nut in the afternoon – those are my everyday happiness secrets ☺️

    • Paige Ashley Smith

      Love those tips! I’m all about a light dinner and walking.

    • Paige Ashley Smith

      Love those tips! I’m all about a light dinner and walking.

    • Manal Malik

      Those are great tips! I love walking too but I feel so strange walking or indulging myself alone in public atmospheres. Do you usually walk alone or invite friends out?

      • Oh, I just love spending time by myself, Manal 🙂 I’ve been like this since i was a kid. I don’t know if its something you can “learn to enjoy” but i hope it is. I truly enjoy my own company more than anybody elses :} But of course being with friends and family is awesome too. In a different way, I guess!

  • Simplifying your life by decluttering your home, and retiring friendships and relationships that no longer serve you will make space for new things to enter your life!

    • Paige Ashley Smith

      Preach! Those are such great reminders 🙂

  • Love these tips – and your blog! So glad I discovered it!

    • Paige Ashley Smith

      Aw thank you, Carly! So happy to hear it 🙂

  • I LOVE #4 and #13! In the mornings when I am walking the streets of Nantucket, I make sure to say “Good Morning” to whoever walks by me. I like how it forces people to look up and make eye contact and smile…If they don’t say “good morning” back to me, then well maybe they need to read this article! 🙂

    • Paige Ashley Smith

      Thanks for reading! I love that little habit. I do the same thing whenever I’m on a trail run (quick hello or the classic runner’s wave), but I haven’t thought to do it just while walking on the street. Such a lovely gesture.

  • Decluttering always has the biggest impact on me. I feel so much happier in a brighter and lighter and cleaner space.

    • Paige Ashley Smith

      Same here! Reducing the amount of sheer things I own has radically changed my mood and perspective on what I buy.

      • Lucia

        I would like to split all my possessions in half and keep only what counts! That could be another article. Where to start???

        • Paige Ashley Smith

          That’s a great goal to have! I’d say start with what bothers you the most (your overflowing closet, your junk drawers, etc.) and only keep the items you love and use regularly. Here’s an article I wrote that might help: https://makespace.com/blog/posts/how-to-start-decluttering-your-home/

  • This is a great list! #2 is really important to me, I’ve recently started on Marie Kondo’s method and I find everything is so much easier now that I have less stuff!

    • Paige Ashley Smith

      Thanks, Tale! Love Marie’s book! I used her method with my closet and books a while back and it worked so well.

  • This is a great article and OMG it’s speaking directly to me and calling me out (picking up my journal asap and finishing this book by my bed lol). Keep up the great articles, major fan and subscriber.

    • Paige Ashley Smith

      Thanks Chavanna, glad it resonated with you!

  • Nichole Parks

    Just making my bed every morning has helped me. It’s an easy task to check off right when I wake up and puts me in a productive mood. Then when I get home from work, it’s made and ready for me to flop down on.

    Thanks for this list! I love how all of the items are doable, it’ll just take practice and mental reminders to implement them into my life. I’ll definitely be using this. 🙂

    • Paige Ashley Smith

      Thanks so much for reading, Nichole! Totally agree about making the bed — I love hopping into a fresh sheets at the end of the day.

  • Evelyn Creon

    I love these tips!!!!!!!!!!! thank you

    • Paige Ashley Smith

      So glad Evelyn, thanks for reading!

  • Abby

    This is by far one of the best articles I’ve read on theeverygirl!

    • Paige Ashley Smith

      Thanks for saying that, Abby! Really happy you enjoyed it 🙂

  • Paige Ashley Smith

    Those are awesome habits! Reading before you go to bed is such a great way to unwind and clear your head of the day’s stresses.

  • Whitney

    This is just what I needed to hear today! I have been struggling with quite a few of these (always jumping on social media, multi-tasking ect.) and I have felt no peace in my life! Great article- can’t wait to implement some of these and share!

    • Paige Ashley Smith

      I feel you! It’s so easy to fall down that rabbit hole and not take the time to pause and re-examine your day-to-day patterns. Glad you got something out of it!

  • We love this list, particularly item number 12! Reading short stories and poetry are lovely, accessible ways to improve your quality of life.

    • Paige Ashley Smith

      Agreed! Thanks for reading, Elise!

  • Blayk Ward

    Holy shit! You can also really improve your life by checking out my interview with these Extreme Midget Wrestlers

    https://trashcloset.com/portfolio/interviews-extreme-midget-wrestling-917/

  • Nikki Laraja

    I love love lovvve this post, I try and practice many of these things already, but there were a few that I will add to my daily routine immediately!

    http://www.shopthecoconutroom.com

    • Paige Ashley Smith

      Thanks so much Nikki, glad to hear it!

  • Mary Azar

    I absolutely love this! It is so simple to make small changes that make life happier and healthier! I just created a list of my own and am happy to see so many similarities! http://www.welldefinedonline.com/?p=386

    • Paige Ashley Smith

      Agreed! Thanks for reading, Mary!

  • GmoKathyO

    I’d like to add: 21. Think about somebody besides yourself and volunteer for a few hours every week.

    • Paige Ashley Smith

      Love that addition! Focusing outside yourself does wonders for your level of happiness and fulfillment.

  • Manal Malik

    This is a great article! Following a commitment to any of these habits go a long way. I am 22 years old and i have about 9 of these habits down but i would love to incorporate the rest!

    • Paige Ashley Smith

      You can do it, Manal! Thanks for reading and good luck!

  • N Lewis

    Think before I speak and reading a book before I pick up my phone really hit home for me. I definitely need to work on those items. there are so many unread books that I have. or books that I’ve started but haven’t finished. I’m trying to find a balance and take time out for myself being a new blogger and all. It’s easy to dedicate a lot of my time to developing posts and trying to make my blog successful.
    Thanks for the helpful and thoughtful tips.

    Nicky.
    http://www.sincerelybalanced.com

  • Emma

    LOVED this article. Would love more like it! Such simple things and yet I can see how they’d just have such a positive impact on day to day life. Thanks for this.

  • Love this list! I swear by the make-your-bed-every-morning rule. It feels great coming home to a tidy room after a typically crazy work day and makes me feel like I have my life together (even when I don’t!) 🙂
    winewearwander.com

  • Melody

    I love all of these!! Thank you!

  • KB

    If you’re not feeling talkative (#1) but still want to reach out, I recommend writing a short note and tossing it in the mail. It will be a surprise for the recipient … and how often do people get fun mail these days, anyway? (And it’s an excuse to buy cute notecards, which I always like.)

  • Point 19 really resonates with me. I come from a family where we give praise freely all the time. But moving to a new city, I have really noticed that a lack of ‘saying nice things’ has an affect on my mood. I try to make an effort to give praise whenever I can. I know it helps me, so I believe it helps others too.

  • Jem

    I really like this list you put together, it hits so many different areas of your life easily. Thank you!

  • Aqmeri Amen-Wint

    Love this! Will definitely be implementing some of these tips! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  • Gotta love #8 =o)

    https://dreamofadventures.com/

  • Molly O’Connor

    LOVE this! Those 5 minute phone convos make such a difference in my life! Thanks for such great tips 🙂

    http://www.mollyonthemoveblog.com

  • Bethany @ CuteCapsuleLife

    Great tips – for me and to teach my kiddos!

  • Making eye contact has always been such a struggle for me, because I’m both on the spectrum and a long-time sufferer of social anxiety. But I have been trying – I just wish people would be more understanding about neurodivergent quirks and not be so quick to call us all “liars” when we can’t make eye contact consistently.

    Otherwise, I do most of these already. I try to live very stress-free.

  • gratitude is crucial if you want to live a happy life! <3

  • Paul @ DefeatingNormal.com

    This is a terrific list of things to improve our lives. Many times we forget the “small” things, which many times are the big things. We rush through life rather than live it. It is amazing how big of a difference these things can make.

  • My favorite one is “Don’t complain unless you have something to offer.” I really need to practice this more often!

    http://www.coffeemeetspolished.com

  • Brilliant list! I’d add finding a great playlist (that’ not TOP 40). Its an easy way to change your mood and the atmosphere of your home/office/car.

    http://www.wearvaughan.com

  • #1 sounds like such an awesome idea..I will definitely try to check in more often with my loved ones.

    https://adventures-around-the-world.blogspot.co.uk/

  • Natalie Redman

    Great post!

    http://www.upyourvlog.com

  • Whocares_386

    Being optimistic and helpful is really important for us. That’ll provide us many oppurtunites in the daily life and in the future!

    Read that article for further information:
    http://improveyourself.biz/?p=289