35 Small Habits That Will Change Your Life (in 2020)
It’s easy to overestimate the importance of one big action and underestimate the value of making small improvements consistently.
We are convinced that success requires massive action, and we dismiss small changes because they don’t seem to matter in the moment.
If you save a little money today, you’re still not a millionaire. If you go to the gym now, you’re still overweight. The results don’t seem to come quickly so we give up and stop trying.
On the other hand, you could be a millionaire, but if you spend more than you earn each month, then you’re walking the wrong path.
This is to say that it isn’t about the results as much as it is about whether your habits are putting you on the right path to success.
Even though small improvements aren’t noticeable, they can be far more meaningful in the long term.
This Article contains 35 small habits that will change your life.
Ready? Let’s get started!
The Power of Small Habits
Small habits don’t require much effort or time, yet they have a powerful compounding effect when repeated often enough.
For example, the simple habit of writing a loving text to your partner won’t take more than 2 minutes, but it can improve your relationship tremendously. In contrast, imagine mocking or belittling your partner every single day, what effect would that has on your relationship?
The same principle applies to every other area of your life. Every small action repeated day in and day out, is going to have a positive or negative effect on the quality your life.
So if small habits are easy to complete and yet have such an effect on our lives, why don’t people do more of them?
The answer is because of its level of ease.
Because the task doesn’t require much effort or time, most people never feel the need to schedule it into their day and convince themselves that they’ll get around to it.
Unfortunately, they never get around to it.
That’s because every action requires a reminder to complete it. But that doesn’t mean that you need to fill your life with dozens of Post-it notes, alerts, and alarms.
Instead, try stacking these small habits. All you need to do is:
1. Identify the list of small actions you want to complete.
2. Group them together into a routine.
3. Schedule a specific time every day to complete this routine.
4. Use a trigger as a reminder to complete this stack.
5. Make it super easy to get started and keep doing it.
Why Habit Stacking Works?
Adding too many things in your life, even if they were small and each action won’t take more than 5 minutes, can increase your stress levels and make you feel overwhelmed.
This is where habit stacking comes in. It not only helps you remember to complete each small action, but it also makes these actions seem like one action to complete.
Why Goals Are Important?
It’s important that each new small habit you include in your routine to be aligned with your goals. For example, if you want to lose weight, drinking more water can be a small habit that will help you reach your goal.
We all have different goals, but they usually fall into one of these seven categories:
1. Career goals, like improving your productivity, improving a specific work-related skill, increasing your business sales…
2. Finance goals, like saving for retirement, paying your debt, investing…
3. Health goals, like losing weight, improving your diet, becoming more physically active…
4. Leisure goals, like planning vacations, doing more of your hobby, spending time with your family or friends…
5. Relationship goals, like improving your relationships with your significant other, family member, and friends, improving your social skills, finding a romantic partner…
6. Spirituality goals. Whatever helps you to achieve peace of mind and balance, like meditating, practicing yoga, helping others, praying…
7. Personal development goals, like learning new skills, becoming an avid reader, organizing your mind, home and life…
How to Choose Your Small Habits?
After identifying your goals, ask yourself “What small habits I can start today that will support my major goals?”
Your small habits are going to be unique to you. Below is a list of habits to inspire from:
1. Career Habits
#1. Schedule Your Day
This is especially for you if you have many tasks you need to complete.
Make a list of these tasks. Be realistic and make sure your list of tasks isn’t going to be impossible to complete.
Try to focus on the activities that bring the most value to your job or business. Assign a specific time for each task, and be sure to include breaks.
#2. Identify Your Three Most Important Tasks
This helps you reduce the length of your to-do list but also improve your productivity.
You could think of this in terms of the 80-20 rule; 20% of your tasks are brining 80% of your results. Don’t work on anything else until you have completed your high values tasks.
#3. Start With the Hardest Task
When you start with the hardest tasks first thing in the morning, you’ll go through your day more relaxed and focused knowing that you’ve crossed off the hardest item. Moreover, usually the toughest task adds value to your work/business the most.
#4. Remove Distractions before Working
Checking your phone every few minutes for alerts, text messages, social media notification, etc. is going to significantly reduce your productivity. You’ll find yourself unable to focus on the task at hand and more likely to procrastinate.
Remove distractions before working. Close your email tab and unable social media notifications during work. If you still find it hard to resist the temptation of checking your phone and email, here are a few apps and websites that you can use:
- Rescue Time: Understand how you spend your time so you can focus and increase your productivity.
- StayFocusd: Limit the amount of time you spend on distracting websites by installing StayFocusd on your computer.
- Cold Turkey: Similar to StayFocusd, Cold Turkey temporarily blocks distracting websites so you can focus on work.
- Freedom: Schedule blocking social websites, apps, and even the Internet on all your devices.
- Focus Booster: Uses the Pomodoro Technique so you can focus on single tasks for twenty-five minutes apiece.
#5. Declutter Your Desktop
A cluttered desk can be distracting, constantly reminding you of all the things you’re yet to complete. Clear your desk from any physical distraction. Only leave the task at hand on your desk.
If your computer is also cluttered and you find yourself wasting so much time looking for the files you need, organize it and file everything in the appropriate folders.
#6. Track Time for Your Activities
Tracking time for your activities gives you perspective on what you’re accomplishing, what activities you’re spending most of your time on, and what activities are wasting your time.
The simplest way to track your time is to use software or an app like RescueTime. It runs in the background and tracks time spent on specific programs and websites.
2. Finance Habits
#7. Track Your Expenses
Tracking your expenses is the first step to take control of your finances, but can also be hard because it means you need to be 100% honest with yourself about your spending.
At the end of the day, write down everything you (and your family) purchased. Over time, you’ll notice some unnecessary expenses that could be eliminated. You can use a notebook for this purpose or spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel or an app like Mint.
#8. Review Your Budget
Sticking to a budget is another necessary habit. It’ll allow you to understand the difference between what you need and want. It also reduces your stress and gives you control over your finances.
You can either review your budget at the end of each day, or do it weekly. You can use programs like Excel or Mint to monitor your spending.
#9. Conserve Your Utilities
Saving money on utilities is a habit that you need to practice. It saves you money, but it also helps the environment. Make it a routine to make a quick tour in your home turning off lights and appliances that aren’t being used before leaving to work.
You can add other small actions to conserve utilities like:
- Turn off the light whenever you leave a room.
- Open windows and use fans for cooling during hot days.
- Open the blinds and shades in the winter to let the sun shine warm your home.
#10. Pack a Meal, Snack, and Coffee
Preparing and packing food is a healthy choice but it’s also a wise financial decision. Prepare your lunch or pack your dinner leftovers and make coffee at home and use a travel mug to take it with you.
#11. Plan Your Meals and Prepare a Food Shopping List (and Stick to It!)
Lack of proper planning is one reason people consume fast food. They think about what they’ll eat at the last minute and buy whatever is immediately accessible. Building a weekly habit where you plan your meals for the next seven days will help you eat more healthy food, reduce your shopping trips and save you money.
5 Dollar Dinners is one way to find meal plans. It offers a combination of meal plans, coupons, and recipes for quality dinners that will save you money.
Furthermore, try shopping on a full stomach. It’s easier to resist junk food temptation when you’re not hungry.
#12. Read a Personal Finance Article
Reading about personal finance is your shortcut to building wealth and becoming financially independent. Make it a habit to read books, listen to podcasts, and scan personal finance articles every day.
Below are a few personal finance blogs to get you started:
You can use Feedly app to add these blogs to your feed, and look through it.
3. Health Habits
#13. Replace One Food Item with a Healthy Alternative
The best way to start eating healthy food is to make a single food substitution each day. Doing this will help you become more healthy and lose weight.
Below are a few examples. You can substitute:
- Soda with tea
- White bread with whole grain bread
- Mayonnaise with mustard or avocado
- Ketchup with salsa
- Sour cream with Greek yogurt
- Milk with almond milk
- Vegetable oil with coconut oil or olive oil
- Iceberg lettuce with arugula, romaine, spinach, or kale
#14. Fill a 32-Ounce Water Bottle
Dehydration can cause headaches and fatigue, affect your concentration and short-term memory. Drinking enough water also helps with losing weight.
Fill a 32-ounce bottle twice a day and drink it throughout your day. If you find plain water unpalatable, try adding a squeeze of lemon or a slice of cucumber.
#18. Complete a 7-Minute Workout
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) suggests that you get between 150 and 250 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise every week to lose weight. That’s roughly 22 to 35 minutes of exercise per day. A 30-minute walk can be a great option. You can do it with a loved one, while walking your pet, etc.
#19. Increase Your Flexibility
Increasing your flexibility is one of the best ways to improve your overall health and it doesn’t take much of your time.
There are many ways you can increase your flexibility. You can do a full-body stretch, or a quick session of yoga.
#20. Apply Sunscreen Year Round
Sunscreen protects your skin from UV rays that can harm you year round. It helps you reduce your chances of sunburn, photo aging, and skin cancer.
Find a high-SPF sunscreen. Apply it before leaving the house and reapply it every two hours if you’re going to spend a long time outside.
4. Leisure Habits
#21. Read a Book Chapter
Reading is a great way to reduce your stress and unwind after a long day. Set aside 10 to 15 minute every day to read a chapter of a book you like.
If you’re struggling to find a good book, try the following:
- Ask for recommendations from friends and family members.
- Google: best [genre] book.
- Google: best [genre] book [current year].
- Browse Amazon’s Top 100 List in your preferred category.
#22. Get Outside
Spending at least 20 minutes outdoors every day is a great way to get a regular dose of vitamin D and reduce your stress levels.
#23. Watch an Inspiring Video
Watching inspiring videos helps you renew your motivation and boost your creativity. TED Talks are a great option to get inspired. They are inspiring lectures from the most visionary leaders of our time.
#24. Try Something New
Familiarity can become draining over time. It’s important to try something new and break routine every now and then. To do that, try the following:
- Change up your daily routine order.
- Try new food.
- Take a different route to work or home.
- Reduce Internet usage and try something else (reading a book, biking, going for a walk, etc)
5. Relationship Habits
#25. Contact One Person on a Dating Site
Dating site can be a great way to meet new people and find your significant other sooner.
To help you meet the right one sooner, try the following:
- Make a list of traits you don’t want in a partner, such as smoking or excessive drinking.
- Make sure their religious beliefs and lifestyles are aligned with yours.
#26. Give a Compliment
Giving genuine compliments is a great way to strengthen your relationships with other people.
Look for things to compliment people on, like someone’s outfit or a recent accomplishment.
#27. Text an Encouraging Message
Taking the time to text someone lets them know that you’re thinking about them. It strengthen your bond and increase your intimacy, especially in a romantic relationship.
Make it a habit to set aside two minutes every day to send a heartfelt text message to your spouse, child, sibling, parent, friend, or even coworker.
#28. Practice Active Listening
Nothing makes someone more loved than being listened to and understood. This is why practicing active listening is an important skill to build for your relationships.
Start giving others your undivided attention. Make eye contact and be empathetic. Try to understand they way they feel and don’t jump to fix their problem unless they ask you for your insight.
6. Spiritual Habit
#29. Speak Words of Prayer
If you’re a religious person, then building a daily prayer habit is a great way to become more spiritual.
Depending on your religion, pick prayers that are relevant to my current priorities. It’s easy to find prayers online. Just Google “prayer for [intention]” and edit the prayer if you want.
#30. Practice Gratitude
Gratitude has many benefits on your mental health. Keep a gratitude journal where you write down 5 things you feel grateful for.
Be specific and describe what you’re grateful for in more details. Also try to find the good in the unfortunate situations you’re having, like becoming a stronger person or learning a valuable lesson.
#31. Practice Random Acts of Kindness
When you perform an act of kindness, you benefit from it as much as the receiver of the act. You start feeling better about yourself and you become more optimistic.
Start looking for opportunities to help people. This can include:
- Helping an elderly person with their groceries
- Paying for a person’s coffee who is behind you in line
- Holding doors/elevator open for others
- Adding a couple of coins to a parking meter about to expire
- Keeping your hotel room relatively clean so the maid’s job is easier
- Picking up trash and recyclables that you see on the street
- Leaving big tips for a waiter or waitress
- Make (or bring) coffee/snack for someone at work or at home
- Drive a friend to work
If you need more inspiration, check out Kindness.org, which is a social media site for people interested in helping others.
7. Personal Development Habits
#32. Make Your Bed
The small actions of making your bed can have a powerful impact on your daily success.
In a commencement speech at the University of Texas, US Navy Admiral William H. McCraven said the following to the graduating class:
“If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. And by the end of the day that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed.”
#33. Eliminate One Item
Clutter, not only wastes your time, but also adds to your stress. Decluttering might seem like a big project. This is why eliminating one item every day is a great option to help you get started. If the item is in good condition consider selling it or giving it to charity.
#34.Read Self-Development Books
Learning is the most important part to grow as a person. Make it a habit to read one chapter from a self-help book on a topic of your choosing of your choosing.
#35. Do Something That Makes You Happy
Make yourself a priority and make sure you practice self-care every day. It doesn’t have to be hours-long activity. A dew minute of “me” time can be enough to reduce your stress and boost your mood
There are a lot of habits you can do in five minutes or less. Here are a few ideas to help you get started:
- Write in a journal
- Enjoy a cup of tea
- Step outside and feel the sunshine on your face
- Cuddle/play with a pet
- Read a few jokes and laugh a little
- Eat a bite of dark chocolate
- Dance around the room like no one is watching
- Read a few pages of fiction
Get Your Free Printable Weekly Self-Care Checklist
Did I miss anything?
Now I’d like to hear from you.
Which habits from today’s post are you going to try first?
Or maybe I didn’t mention one of your favorite habits.
Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now!
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- 10 Ways to Boost Your Productivity: How to Accomplish More & Have More Time?
- Top 15 Productivity Tips to Achieve More and Create Peace of Mind
- Morning Routines: The Definitive Guide to Design Your Perfect Morning Routine
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Portions of this article were adapted from the book Habit Stacking, © April 10, 2017, by S. J. Scott. All rights reserved.