These simple 1-minute life hacks are powerful and doable by you!
Can you relate? Sometimes life feels like an endless loop, similar to the movie groundhog day. The same routine every day, week in, week out.
Your life isn’t bad, it’s ok.
Your stuck in old habits and think: Just ok is not good enough. I want out of this loop and live a glorious life!
It’s much simpler than you’d imagine. I put together 13 effective 1-minute life-hacks that can help you turn your life around and get out of the “groundhog day loop.”
Life Hack No 1—Look at the feet of people
One of my favorite 1-minute life hacks is a post-Zoom era trick, as most of us currently communicate virtually.
Have you been wondering what people around you think about you? Whether a group wants you to join? Or if the person you’re speaking with enjoys the conversation?
Look at their feet. Observe which way their feet are pointing. If they enjoy being with you, their feet will point towards you. If they point in a different direction, they would like to exit the conversation.
Please note that it doesn’t mean they want to get away from you. They might just lust for a cigarette, cup of coffee or similar. Taking a break, leaving, or ending a conversation is what they’re looking for.
The feet of someone always point in the direction they really want to go. May it be the coffee machine, bathroom—or you.
Life Hack No 2—Follow the 2-minute rule
Time management consultant and bestselling author David Allen writes in his book “Getting things done” about the 2-minute rule:
I have a two-minute rule that says: If you determine an action can be done in two minutes, you actually should do it right then because it’ll take longer to organize it and review it than it would be to actually finish it the first time you notice it. If you don’t avoid the question about what’s the next step, lots of two minute items could be done right then.David Allen, Getting things done
Did you receive an email that you can respond to in 30 seconds? Do it!
This way of working helps you to organize your tasks more effectively. Minor tasks don’t take up any of your precious brain space, making it less likely that you forget the important tasks.
It would take more time to create and administer minor tasks than actually do them.
Life hack No 3—Sleep 8 hours every night
This 1-minute life hack is difficult, at least for me. I only slept 5-6 hours for nearly a week, and I feel it with every breath. I make more errors; I am irritable, it’s harder to focus and I slurp coffee as if there’s no tomorrow.
The problem with sleep is that we often regard it as an option. An item on our to-do list. And not even the most important one. We view it as an item we can take away from if we have work to do, want to hang out with friends, watch a movie, etc.
In reality, too little or an inferior quality of sleep affects our productivity, well-being, health, and also our mood.
Here’s the one-minute hack:
1 hour before you’re planning to get to bed, turn off everything that makes noises or shines light. Computer, radio, phones, etc. Unless you’re living in a palace in Dubai, you can do that in one minute.
Basically, remove any distraction. That way you signal to your brain that you are getting ready to sleep.
You will find that the time you take to fall asleep decreases.
Life hack No 4—The worst that could happen
A very personal tip I like to share is an 1-minute “intellectual dialogue with your brain.”
It helps you to get a different view of any situation that scares you. May it be general anxiety, fear of rejection, failure, or fear of success (one of the most common.)
Next time you prepare for a speech (or whatever you’re afraid of) imagine the worst-case scenario and discuss it with your brain.
You take on the role of the fearful brain (negative Nelly) and also represent the intellectual part.
Just ask your brain simple logical questions, such as:
- Why are you afraid? ("You might fail")
- But that I failed twice doesn’t mean I will fail again, right? ("Yes, but...")
- What if I fail? Where’s the problem? ("People will laugh at you")
- What will happen if people laugh at me?
And so on. You get the drift. At the end of every discussion, you conclude that your fear is unfounded. Or at least not worth skipping on an opportunity.
Your brain's job is to protect you from pain, mental and physical pain. The lizard brain (fight or flee) stores information on whatever hurt us. In cases of physical pain, it is often accurate, or at least not counterproductive.
The problem with the lizard brain is that it forces us to act, stripping us of the ability to think intellectually (or creatively) about a situation.
For instance, if you burnt your hand on a hot stove, it will probably hurt every time. If a bear is hunting you, neither your creative brain nor your lizard brain will offer convincing reasons to stay.
"Just because this bear ate two other people doesn’t mean he will eat me,” would be a Russian Roulette approach to life.
But for mental pain this is often not true and through our fear, we create self-fulfilling negative prophecies.
- That you got fired from your job doesn’t mean they will fire you next time
- That you messed up a public speech several times doesn’t mean you will mess it up next time
- That two of your businesses failed doesn’t mean the next project will fail
- That one partner cheated on you doesn't mean the next will too
The 1-minute life hack is:
When you're afraid the next time (of public speaking, being fired, rejected...) Just imagine the worst-case scenario.
You're not good at public speaking? People might laugh at you. That's the worst-case scenario.
Would that be so bad? Bad enough to make you miserable or keep you from sharing your gifts with the world?
These two articles shine more light on the topic:
Life hack No 5–live in the Now
Are you great at multi-tasking? In theory, I can respond to emails while I am on the phone and set a timer for the tea I just brewed at the same time. In the background, a Spanish series (the language I am trying to learn half-heartedly) plays.
But is that really necessary?
You can find the first argument (or better: a series of arguments) against self-inflicted stress and multi-tasking HERE .
Multi-tasking doesn't work. Period. Your brain has limited cognitive capacity. If you do several cognitive tasks at once, it splits the resources.
My focal point today is that our lives are so stressful, congested, and full of tasks that we hardly give our full attention to anything. We’re not present.
That leads to subpar results and problems in relationships.
We can only truly experience something (or excel at it) if we are present.
- When you eat, chew mindfully, explore the food with all of your senses, and focus solely on eating. How does it taste? Smell? How’s the consistency? Does it tingle your taste buds?
- If you speak with a person you care about, put your cell phone aside. By giving someone your full attention, you too “get more out” of the encounter.
- One of the most effective and simple stress-busters is mindful breathing. Blend out all thoughts and focus only on your breath. Feel how the oxygen nurtures your body.
Try it. You’ll feel more alive and your stress-levels will decrease.
Mindfulness is one topic most people agree is useful, but even though seeing results just takes a few minutes, in the hectic of our busy days, we skip practicing it.
It’s a minute well spent. Your ROT (return on time) is that because you feel refreshed, you can focus better and get more done.
Life hack No 6–From “must” to “want” to "prefer to"
This 1-minute life hack is my favorite hack for gaining back control over your mind and reducing your stress-levels dramatically.
If you're like most people, there are a lot of things you have to do.
- You must prepare for the shareholder meeting or
- You must mow the lawn or
- You must get food on the table.
The longer version of this 1-minute life hack is HERE.
In short: You must die. That's it. And if you don't want to die soon, you must drink, eat, sleep, breathe.
If you miss the deadline, you might get fired. And then you might lose your house. Therefore, you must go to work.
You might become homeless, but you do not need a roof over your head. But maybe you WANT to provide for yourself or your family.
You can get back in the driver's seat by realizing that you do not have to do anything. But that you want many things.
If you think about it, you CHOOSE to go to work to have a delightful house and comfortable life. You prefer the ability to afford a comfortable live.
We're motivated to do things we prefer to do. Tasks we picked autonomously.
And then if you want to spend another minute, part B of this life hack is to go through your tasks and consequently remove any irrelevant or third-party-inflicted task you prefer not to do.
For instance, you want to stay on your couch, but you know the neighbors will talk if you don't mow the lawn. You love your lawn with a few wild flowers and weeds. Your neighbors don't.
What's more important to you? The pleasure of lounging on your couch or avoiding gossip? Even if you oblige, there's no guarantee they won't gossip about something else.
People who engage in useless communication typically find something else to blab about.
What do I mean by "useless" communication?
Useless communication is when
- you brag
- you listen to someone bragging
- you gossip
- you listen to someone gossipping
Back to our fictive lawn-mow-problem. There's no right or wrong answer. But as soon as you make a conscious decision for either, you get from "must" over "want" to "prefer to."
When you go through your task-list, you will discover that you feel pressured to do things you neither want nor need to do (i.e. expectations of others), and you can focus on the tasks you wish to do.
Isn't that a minute well spent?
Life Hack No 7 - Planning is everything
Are you holding yourself accountable? To measure something, we have to qualify and quantify it first. We constantly plan to make changes.
- I'll work out tomorrow
- I'll do my taxes on the weekend
- I'll spend more time with my partner
- I'll sleep more/read more...
I'll share my best tip with you. As you know, I am a certified Marshall Goldsmith Executive coach, and I learned this hack from him.
You won't like it. And 95% of my valued readers won't do it.
But I have splendid news for you: If you do it, you'll become better. If you don't, you won't become worse.
Make a list of all the things you want to do during the week. A list like this (see example below) is the most effective tool for self-improvement.
However, most people don't see it through. If you spend just 10 minutes daily on every item on your list, you will improve. You know it's true.
Hold yourself accountable. Or accept that you don't really want to change.
Life Hack No 8 - Look forward, not back
You're about to make an important (or not so important) decision? What criteria are you using to decide?
- Do you make a pro/contra list to evaluate which option is the best for your situation?
- Do you decide intuitively?
- Or do you decide with a realistic outlook on the future?
To make a decision that aids you in achieving your goals and live a purposeful life, you must know your calling or what your goal is.
As mentioned in the last tip, to measure it, define it first. A "qualified" decision takes about 30 seconds longer than an intuitive decision, but these 30 seconds can save you from mistakes, keep you from biased decisions, and going backwards.
Often when people say "I knew it, my intuition was right!" they just created self-fulfilling prophecies and invited and focused on the outcome they expected (see: The Power of Mirror Neurons.)
Another interesting question: Are you motivated by fear or love?
1-Minute Life Hack No 9 - Triggers
Stimulus and reaction. A reaction follows every stimulus. It takes a millisecond. These triggers make behavioral change difficult.
The goal of this 1-minute life hack is to know these triggers exist and that they lead our actions in ways that do not serve us. Behavioral change is hard work, and not a matter we can handle in a minute.
Changing habits, such as how you eat or when you get up, are relatively easy to change compared to behavioral change that requires our brain to adjust the neural network.
Per definition, a trigger is a reminder of a past traumatic event. It can cause us to - out of the blue - feel sad, afraid.
We'll use the term slightly differently. Triggers can be positive and negative. What I mean is something that influences you on a subconscious level.
Gregory's hair stylist is Marc. In his saloon, Marc always has an oil lamp that fills the room with the most delicious sandalwood scent. Gregory loves Goldie locks, and nobody works the curling iron like Marc.
Until that fateful day when Marc accidentally burnt Gregory's ear. Gregory will never forget the pain.
Two centuries later, Gregory owns a small business and is about to sign a joint venture agreement with a (former) competitor. They meet in a Michelin Star restaurant for the signing.
In the lobby, the restaurant has a pot-pourri of dried flowers, infused with a delicate scent of sandalwood.
Gregory wasn't aware why he out of the blue became suspicious and felt the deal he was about to sign is not such a great idea. At the end, the signing never happened because Gregory suddenly had a diffuse bad feeling in his stomach.
Since the accident, whenever Gregory smells the scent of sandalwood, his guards go up. Gregory is unaware of this trigger.
He finds rational reasons to explains the diffuse emotion.
While that is a fabricated, simple story, it's how triggers work. There can be more loops.
We differentiate direct and indirect triggers.
Direct triggers are stimuli that obviously affect our behavior right away. There are no loops (steps) between the triggering event and your reaction.
Gregory's burnt ear, and the Sandalwood is a simple indirect trigger. They're not always linear and simple like that.
Indirect triggers are more dangerous, as in less obvious to us. We might be positively biased in a critical situation or negatively biased and destroy an opportunity or relationship.
We need self-discipline and self-control to master our triggers.
Self-discipline to achieve the behavior we desire; self-control to avoid undesirable behavior.
Emotional Intelligence training will help you recognize and control your triggers. It takes commitment, though.
Life Hack No 10 - Be a noticer
Be a noticer. Not just regarding others. Be a first-class noticer of your emotions and thoughts as well.
Your brain produces your emotions and thoughts. The brain doesn't always base the thoughts and emotions it produces on facts.
Fear, past negative experience are two of the factors motivating your brain to produce thoughts and emotions that are not really yours and might not serve you.
If you feel rejected or fearful, realize that these thoughts are not your own. Also notice negative self-talk and stop it immediately.
If you make a mistake, don't tell yourself "I'm such a loser, I failed again." That's just harmful. Instead, analyse the situation and lift yourself up.
You could tell yourself something like "That didn't work out as expected, and I feel embarrassed. It's hurtful, but the feeling will quickly pass. I'll analyse what went wrong and improve."
Important article on wrong topic: Default Mode Network of the brain
Life Hack No 11 - Smile (Mirror Neurons)
This 1-minute life hack is powerful in two ways:
Firstly, everyone we meet subconsciously "reads" us and responds according to what we send out. If you didn't read my article about the power of mirror neurons, I encourage you to do so HERE .
Secondly, no matter how frustrated you are, you can feel better in just 60 seconds. Smile for 60 seconds, and you will feel noticeably better. You might say, "Why should I smile when I feel frustrated and horrible?"
Our brain is an interesting machine. One one hand, it's so complicated that we don't even understand how much we don't understand. And then again, it's often overly simplistic and easy to fool.
The smile doesn't have to be genuine. Even if you force your face into the most sarcastic grimace, it will fool your brain.
A smile - may it be genuine or not - works the muscles around your mouth, prompting your brain to start the production of happy-hormones.
I ask people who don't believe in the power of words to say 10 times "hate" and 10 times "love" and notice how different they feel. It's the same principle. Even if you don't mean it, your brain responds.
After you smiled for 60 seconds, you feel better. Now that you feel better, overcoming the blues and working on your problems is much easier.
Same problem = better mindset.
Life Hack No 12 - Break it Pomodore Style
This 1-minute life hack sounds counterintuitive, but taking more breaks can make you feel more energized and prevent fatigue. 1-minute breaks can refresh you and fuel your creativity.
Have you heard of the Pomodoro Technique?
That's another helpful task-management tool to increase productivity and reduce stress-levels.
Break your (work) day up into chunks.
Turn off ALL distractions and work focused on one task for 25 minutes. After that, take a five-minute break. Repeat 2x.
After your first 3 Pomodoros, work for another 25 minutes and take a break of at least 15 minutes. This way you get tasks done, and it's not overwhelming you if you break your day up into a set of easily manageable chunks.
A free tool that helps you track your time is "RescueTime". You can sign up HERE .
Life Hack No 13 - Ditch "when"
Why don't we do the things we know we should do? Why don't we become the person we want to be?
A common reason is that we have the dream tomorrow will be different. "This week is crazy, and I'm busy-but next week will be different."
Chances are, next week is as crazy or even more crazy.
We also forget that unlikely things happen. Each unlikely event (i.e. a plane crashing on our head) won't happen to most people in their lifetime. But the sum of unlikely events is a guarantee that something WILL happen.
So skip "when."
A disease of our Western world is to think in terms of achievement.
"I'll be happy when..."
- I get the promotion
- I find a husband/wife
- I have more money
As you're getting older, you realize "not really."
One of the most influential books on philosophy ever written is the Bhagavad-Gita.
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada writes:
Do not become attached to the fruits of your labor.A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
This is very non-western concept because we're so focused on winning and achievement that we get lost.
The wisdom of this is that happiness doesn't come from a car, a house, a promotion. Happiness is a process, not a result.
A process you can start today.
Instead of waiting for "when" or focusing on your losses and what's not great - just do your best.
In life, do your best. Hit the shot that's in front of you.
All you can do is your best and focus on the future. We spend too much time on ruminating about things we cannot control and events from the past.
Make peace with what is. That is the simple secret of a good life.
Which hack did you like best? Did you try one or a few? I'd love to hear your thoughts! (Contact form below)