17 Habits that take 10 minutes or less and will benefit you throughout the entire day
Most people want to be better.
Buy that new car because it’ll make you look good. Get that new phone because you oh-so need it.
Here’s what most people won’t do though: actually make sure they live a life in which they can achieve that.
Most people are dreamers and talkers, not doers and walkers. And that’s a shame. Because it’s actually really easy to go from a dreamer to a doer.
One of the most basic things you need to do in order to become a doer is to put great habits in your life. Habits that benefit you as a human. Habits that make you be more grateful for the things you do.
Because being grateful will lead to being happy. And being happy will lead to living a better life. And living a better life will lead to you actually working on the things you want to accomplish rather than being mad/sad/angry about the fact you haven’t accomplished them yet.
So, here are 17 habits that only take less than 10 minutes. I advise to not immediately put all these habits into your life. See, building great habits is about picking up 1 good habit and then after 14 days adding another one because you feel good about the first one. And then 10 days later – another. Another 14 days later – another.
Why take up habits that take up less than 10 minutes?
Alright, let’s be real. The reason I have these habits in my life or have had these habits in my life is because they don’t take much time.
See, we all have 10 minutes in our day to make ourselves feel better. And even if you don’t think you have 10 minutes, I bet you 100% you do. So at the end of the list, I have added some activities that you are most likely doing but of which you can spare just 10 minutes in order to improve your life (because when you improve your life, you also improve how you do the other things you do during the day).
Again, I do not advise to take up all these habits (at once). Instead, find one that seems to fit your current lifestyle and just start doing it today – right after you read this article. Just take 10 minutes or less and start working on it right away.
1. Write to someone who is your hero/mentor – takes 5 minutes
Alright, so no matter what field you are in, whether you’re in college or work full time, we all have people we look up to.
The people that have been extremely successful. Those who are our idols. People that we believe are legends.
Here’s a little secret about those people: they’re actually just like you and me. See, most of the successful people that we know and look up to used to live a life that wasn’t as good as it this today. Most of them actually got their drive from the fact that their life was a lot worse in the past.
These people are human, like you and me. No matter how legendary they may look in your eyes.
And it has never been easier to reach these people – it’s extremely easy nowadays.
Think about a person that has really helped you in your life. Whether it’s an NFL player, writer, entrepreneur, athlete, no matter who it is. Think about HOW they have helped you. And think about WHY it benefited you.
Then take those two together, the how and why, and write a short message. Then send them that message, either by email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, comment on their blog, anywhere.
A short message of gratitude. A message that shows them that something they did in the past – something they may have even forgotten about – that has truly benefited you in your life.
This has real benefits for yourself, but also for them. For you, it’s a great way to see how someone that you may have never met – or only met shortly – can have a huge impact on how you live and have lived your life. And it’s a good reminder of a good personality trait or habit that you picked up.
Secondly, people love it when someone is grateful for something they have once done or said. See, it’s only a simple message. You’re not asking them for an autograph, for a friend request, for something in return – except 99% of the people that reaches out to them actually does this). No, you will be that 1% that is actually making them feel good, that can put a smile on their face that day.
After reading Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday, I sent him a short email thanking him for writing the book. I told him what chapters resonated with me most and why they resonated with me. That’s it, no questions for him, no ‘please love me’ statement, nothing at all. And he sent me a short email back.
I now made it a habit to do this at least once a week, usually after reading something online, listening to a podcast or after finishing a book. It’s just a small gesture that shows them you respect what they have to say and can help them to find that extra boost today to do something worthwhile for others.
Sometimes I get a reply, sometimes I don’t. But I know with 90% certainty that they read it.
And maybe, one day, when you meet them (again), they will remember you. Great conversation starter.
2. Meditate – takes 10 minutes
Yes, here we go again.
I know, you’ve probably read it on every blog, in tons of books, heard it on the radio.
That old hippy activity that makes you a Buddhist after doing it once: meditation.
But meditation is actually something way different than trying to think yourself towards a Buddhist life. It’s an activity that helps you to just sit down, and think about many things or nothing at all.
Eyes closed, no focus on anything but your thoughts. Meditation is one of the greatest habits in my life and I do it every single day.
When I first started to meditate I would just sit there. Thinking what the hell I was doing. Thoughts flashing back and forth in my mind. My thoughts were going everywhere.
And that’s ok. That’s what always happens when you start something new. You just have no idea what you are doing and how to do it well.
Then I discovered HeadSpace, an app that helps you meditate (and also really focuses on the benefits of meditation). I used it for a week, found out how to do it, and then downloaded an app called Calm to continue meditation in my own way.
At first, I would just sit still and let thoughts pass through my head and observe them. After a while, I found that I got all the benefits from it that I wanted and turned to transcendental meditation. This is a practice in which you repeat a 1 or 2 syllable word during a period of 10 minutes.
By doing this in the morning, I help myself to prepare for the day mentally. And when I don’t meditate on a day, I notice it in the other things that I do. I have better and happier days when I meditate and am planning to do it for a long time.
3. Journal – takes 2x 2.5 minutes
Man, if there’s one habit that I can highly suggest putting into your life then it’s journaling.
The benefits of this habit outperform those of any other habit. Journalling is a fantastic way to start and end the day.
For a long time, I would sit down in the morning and just write down my thoughts. I’d write short stories (more about this in the next habit) to get clear my mind in the morning.
Then, after listening to the Tim Ferris Podcast, I discovered the 5-minute journal. It’s a pretty simple concept.
Every morning, right after you wake up, you answer 3 simple questions:
- What am I grateful for today? 3 Answers
- What would make today great? 3 Answers
- A daily reminder, I am…
I used to write this on a notepad with a pen, every morning. But then I ended up ordering the book called 5 Minute Journal, which is basically a nice looking version of a notepad with the questions and a good quote at the top of the page. I think it’s about $20 online.
Then, at night, you answer another 2 questions:
- What were 3 great things that happened today?
- What could I have done better today?
It’s a great way to reflect on your day and to see what you have done today to benefit yourself or others. By doing this every day, you have a great book filled with information about your day to day life.
Now, there are tons of others ways to journal, and it’s obviously up to you on which one you choose to do daily. Find one that you believe fits your personality and lifestyle best and just keep doing that every single day.
4. Write a short story – takes 7-8 minutes
During a period where I was homebound for a few weeks, I’d wake up every morning and just write some short story to clear my mind in the morning.
I’d write about any topic that came up in my mind the second I started writing. About how grain has been one of the most insane foods in how humans have lived their lives (from 10,000 years ago to now), how having a cold is a terrible experience, how we remember people in the past from the wars they fought but remember people today from the greatness they have achieved.
It didn’t really matter to me what the topic was, I just wanted to write something down and get my head cleared before I started the day. By writing for just 10 minutes, I had the opportunity to just put any thoughts I had on paper and before I jumped in the shower my head would just be calm.
The short time that I focused on writing helped the random and impulsive thoughts in my head to stop and allowed me to just sit still for a few minutes. And I benefited from this throughout the whole day because those random and impulsive thoughts wouldn’t appear in my mind as much as they would before I had that period of writing.
5.Have a good and healthy breakfast – takes 10 extra minutes
You most likely already know this, yet a lot of people either skip breakfast or just put some sugary cereal with high carb yoghurt into a bowl and eat it. Which is a terrible way of starting your day.
See, by just putting a little more thought and effort into your breakfast, it’s a lot easier to start your day off right. Let’s say you now put 5 minutes into preparing and eating breakfast. If you just take 10 more minutes, you allow yourself to make a breakfast that is a lot healthier and contains way more nutritions than your current breakfast.
In 15 minutes, you can easily prepare and eat an omelette with some veggies, meat and other ingredients that have high benefits for your health and contain the necessary amounts of fat for your brain to function well (fat, by the way, is not bad for your health. You need fats, your brain won’t function without it – it’s just important that you know what types of fat you need to eat).
There’s this thing called the Bulletproof diet. Now, I don’t follow that diet (or am in any way an expert to tell you that you should) but I did learn a lot about healthy fats and the foods that contain them. I can highly suggest to look it up on Google and learn more about the foods that you can eat during the day that will benefit your body but especially your brain.
6. Read 4-5 pages of a book – takes 10 minutes
Here’s probably one the best habits you can put into your life: reading.
See, we all like to read more books, especially books that allow us to be better at whatever we are trying to be good at in life. And it doesn’t always take reading an entire book to get a lot of knowledge from it. Most books contain so much information that a quick read of 4-5 pages will already allow you to move forward.
Now, I highly recommend reading more than just 10 minutes a day. It’s one of the most beneficial things you can do in life. But if you don’t have much time to read, it’s better to just get that 10 minutes daily. 30 x 10 minutes a day is 5 hours a month. That’s about 120-150 pages. Depending on the book, you can easily finish half of it without dedicating a lot of time to it.
Here’s a good trick if you want to read more books. I’ve tried this for a while and can truly say I got a lot of it. I just stopped using it because it mainly worked with books that I had no interest in reading entirely but still wanted to get some important elements from. There’s an app called Blinkist that is perfect if you want to read books quickly. I think it’s $17 a month. This allows you to put just 10 minutes in a day to read 1 book. That’s 30 books a month.
Blinkist summarizes thousands of really good books. Books that seem interesting to you but you might not want to own, spend the $20 on or spend 2 months reading. Because the books are summarized, it’s way easier to find the important parts of the book without worrying that you need to read all the extra paragraphs and sentences around that information.
7. Make a plan for the next day – takes 3-5 minutes
If you’re not doing this right now, I can highly recommend that you start doing it. See, by making a good plan the day before you allow yourself to be a lot more aware of the things that are coming up.
This means you are less stressed by all the things that come onto your path the next day, simply because you have already established a schedule for yourself in which you have noted when you are going to do the things that are on the to-do list today.
And it’s extremely easy to do this. Just take a few minutes at night, right down the things you need to do the next day and then schedule them throughout the day.
Every day, I now write down when I’m going to get up, when I eat breakfast, when I go to the gym, when work starts, when I write articles, etc. This never clogs up my mind since I can dedicate the time that I work on an activity on that activity rather than stressing myself out that I have so many other things to do that day.
8. Get a night routine – takes 5-10 minutes
You most likely already know this but haven’t put it in your life yet: a good night routine.
See, night routines are essential to having a good night of sleep. You will sleep far better and have fewer worries once you have a night routine in your life. It allows you to settle down for a bit before you actually go to sleep.
This habit shouldn’t take too much time of your day and is extremely beneficial. Just take 3-4 short activities that make you sleep better. For me, it’s drinking some camomile tea, grab my clothes for the next day, brush my teeth and write in my journal. After that, my head is empty and I can easily fall asleep within a short amount of time.
9. Track your progress in life – takes 2-3 minutes
By just putting 2-3 minutes a day into tracking your life you allow yourself to see the progress that you have made.
It’s easy to underestimate the progress you are making if you are just looking at it every day. Because where you stand today, is not where you will stand in two weeks. Yet, most likely, you will still feel the exact same.
These apps allow you to basically track anything. Which means you can just set your own goals, how many times you want to do that habit every week and then note down when you have done it.
Sure, the first few days won’t be that impressive. But, after a while, you will quickly realize you’ve been doing some specific habit for a few weeks now. It also keeps you motivated to do that specific activity daily, as you won’t allow yourself to lose a 30-day streak. Highly motivating and it just takes a few minutes a day.
10. Send a message to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while – takes 5 minutes
There’s a high probability that you have friends that you haven’t talked to in a while that kind of just disappeared out of your life. But, unless you decided to not hang out anymore because you got into a fight together, the relationship is still pretty decent.
And that’s exactly why you should put time into contacting them. Not only is it a nice reminder of the good times you shared with each other for yourself, it is also a great reminder for them. And a lot of times, good conversations will follow from sending this message.
Whether it’s a quick “What’s up?” or the fact they just got a new job, got married, got a kid, it doesn’t matter. In your lifetime, you will have many experiences in front of you. But never forget about the ones in your past – the good memories that eventually made you the person that you are today.
11. Look up a question you want an answer to on Quora – takes 5-10 minutes
This is one of my favourites and has since then inspired me to also be a contributor to Quora.
See, the internet is a great place, especially when it comes to the self-improvement websites. Problem with internet is that you mostly will check out the latest posts of today, this week or this month. But sometimes you are just looking for advice on something else.
Quora is a great place to just search for a question that you want to have some solid advice on. The people there have one interest: to make sure the question gets answered in the best way possible. Which means there’s a ton of free content there that you can read in order to get the best advice on any matter (alright, it’s not always the best advice, but usually the questions you have are answered in a great way or at least link to articles that will answer that question).
Either install the Quora app or just go the website and search for questions you need advice on right now. Whether it’s how to tell better stories, how to clean your snowboard, where to find specific items, whatever it is.
It’s a great place to get a lot of knowledge in short blocks of text and has helped me in the past to find a lot of new and interesting information that I wouldn’t have found looking through dozens of blogs that contain way too much extra information.
12. Listen to Motivational Speeches on Spotify – takes 5-10 minutes
We all know it: even though those motivational speeches may sound insane from the outside, that stuff actually works when it comes to getting yourself pumped up to do something.
Whenever I take a cold shower in the morning, I listen to these speeches in the background. It’s a great way to get some motivation in the morning and also helps myself to push myself to actually feel that cold water.
My favourite thing about these speeches is the background music along with it. It’s the vibe the music gives me that really pushes me to do the things I need to do in the morning.
Most of these motivational speeches are targeted at entrepreneurs but I believe the advice is solid for many others as well. It’s a great way to just get that extra motivated feeling every single day, no matter where you are in life.
Here’s one of the playlists: https://open.spotify.com/user/nickfearless/playlist/78Suoigk80gI9mI9z5tYl8
13. Watch commencement speeches by successful people – takes 10 minutes
It’s important to realize something: successful people are usually the people that went through tough times in life – whether they were young or old – and have found a way to cope with it and push themselves to do more through the benefits from the fact they got through that experience.
Which is why watching commencement speeches is such a great way of learning how they did it. It’s someone who – in other people’s eyes, and sometimes not even their own – have reached a point in life that is very inspiring. And, being at that point, they tell a crowd of graduated students on how to go on in life now that they’ve finished what most consider is the hardest thing they have done until that point in life.
I can highly suggest watching these speeches at 1.5x speed on YouTube. You can still hear what they are saying and it’s a great way to speed things up. Speeches by Steve Jobs, Arnold Schwarzenegger and dozens of other people that are at the top of their field gave speeches like this and these are extremely inspiring. Take some notes on the things they say, I still read many of the notes I took when listening to these speeches.
14. Create something of value for the world – takes 10 minutes
If we’d all do this, the world would be such a better place.
But, sure, most people won’t do this because they don’t believe they have the time for it or just feel like they have other priorities – and that’s totally fine. Just know that when you do something of value for the world, you create something of bigger value for yourself.
See, what most people don’t realize is that you will be a lot happier and satisfied in life if the things you do are making other people better. Hence me writing this article; even if it only helps one person, I am fully satisfied with the results.
The world is too big to be selfish and it’s so easy nowadays to create something of value that many people will see. Just working on things that matter to yourself is a good way to start in life but at one point you gotta realize that the things that make you a great person are things that can be extremely inspiring to others.
Take 10 minutes every day and just work on something that creates value. Write something for your Facebook, think of a motivational quote and make an image of it, make some art. It doesn’t have to be finished on that same day, even if it takes 6 days (which gives you an hour) you will at least create something of value.
Those who create value for others will get value in return. Maybe not right away but definitely in the future.
Again, our world is too good for everyone to be selfish. For everyone to just make decisions that only benefit themselves. Find ways of creating value and you will not just help yourself but will also inspire others to do the same.
15. Drink coffee/tea and just sit still for 10 minutes to relax – takes 10 minutes
You will most likely recognize this: you get up, grab some coffee and drink it while doing something else in the meantime. Check your phone, looking at emails, replying to your latest texts.
While doing that, you are not giving your brain even a second to just relax. You’re filling your head with external information that isn’t necessarily important at that moment. What is important is that you often take time for your brain to relax.
Imagine if you were an athlete. And every time you finished a 30-minute run and are resting to take another 30-minute run you just keep running. Have you ever seen a runner do that? Have you ever seen someone lifting weights and in between sets they didn’t take a rest but rather just got different weights and kept lifting?
Your brain is your most important aspect of yourself. You’re nothing without your brain. Luckily, we all have a brain. Yet we never give it the rest it needs. Rather we just constantly fill it with information.
So, next time you grab that cup of coffee or tea, just sit down and relax for 10 minutes. Just think about life. Think about what else you’re going to do today. Just let the thoughts run through your head – it’s not going to kill you. Give your brain some time, take care of it, because you’re going to need it for the rest of your life.
16. Take your vitamins and/or supplements – takes 1 minute
Now, this one isn’t for everyone but I do believe it’s important to take some supplements in the morning.
For example, I live in a country where the sun doesn’t come out much – if we’re lucky we have about 3 weeks of great weather during the summer (although we’re expanding on that thanks to global warming).
This means I have a high lack of Vitamin D in my life, there’s just not enough sunlight during long periods and my body will not produce any Vitamin D because of it. So, every morning, I take some vitamin D to make sure I get enough of it in my body. A lack of Vitamin D is linked to feeling bad, more depressed and just not functioning well.
Along with the Vitamin D, I also take some Omega 3, 6 and 9 supplements. Just 2 pills a day gives my brain those extra fats that I need for it to function at its best. Rather than having to eat a bunch of fish every day, taking those two supplements is a great alternative.
Again, this takes about 1 minute a day and is one of the best ways to make yourself feel better. It’s the third thing I do in the morning and I always highly notice the difference in a day when I take my vitamins.
17. Take 6 deep breaths – takes 1 minute
Alright, so here’s my favourite one and I only recently heard of this while listening to the episode of the Tim Ferris Show with Aubrey Marcus
We all know the saying “Just take a deep breath”. Yet, as you may have noticed, usually that single breath isn’t really helping you to feel any better.
Rather than just taking one, it’s better to take six. Because when you take six breaths, you will actually feel the difference. Just count them while you are breathing in and out -breathe in- 1 -breathe out- 1 -breathe in- 2 -breathe out- 2, all the way up to 6.
Now, this works with pretty much any emotion. It’s just not going to take that anger, anxiety or whatever it is away. But it will take the edges off. And once the edges are gone, you can allow yourself to do the things that build upon the deep breaths that result in feeling calmer.
Yes, you definitely do have 10 minutes to spare every single day
Well, you made it all the way to the end of the article.
And as I promised, I will tell you why you do have 10 minutes to spare in order to at least pick up one of these habits in your life.
See, what most people don’t realize is that they are not doing this because they feel busy.
Here’s a little secret: people that think they’re busy all the time aren’t actually busy, they just tell themselves they are busy. Their brains are filled with things they believe they need to do and are constantly in overdrive which leads them to feel like they can’t just take 10 minutes to do something like meditation.
If you feel like you don’t have time to do any of these, you should definitely do one of these! Because they will make you feel so much calmer in your head that you won’t feel like your brain is on overdrive all the time.
So, here are several things that you can skip in order to spend 10 minutes on any of these, so you can no longer tell yourself that you don’t have time for it:
- You don’t have to watch that next Netflix/tv show episode
- That YouTube video is still going to be there tomorrow
- You don’t need to check Facebook 25 times a day
- You don’t always need to check the latest news
- That email can actually wait for a few hours
- You don’t have to go to every social event
- You don’t have to stay in bed 10 minutes longer
- That 30-minute shower isn’t always helping you
- You don’t need to check the latest funny images online
- Your investments aren’t going to be going insanely up or down in the next 20 minutes
- You don’t have to be around colleagues during the entire lunch break