Sometimes, the best habits to incorporate into your daily routine can be the ones that are so simple, you might overlook them.
1. "'Just do one thing' has helped me quite a bit over the years, because often, once you do one small thing, it makes it feel easier to do the next small thing. Speaking as someone who has battled depression for a long time, sometimes the daily rules and habits I use to improve my life are very, very basic. If I have a task that feels overwhelmingly exhausting at the moment, like changing the litter box, just take one step to make it easier to do later, like bringing the box of fresh litter into the room with the litter box."
2. "For my car's monthly installments, I pay a few days before the actual deadline. For example, the deadline is on the 15th, but I actually pay on the 5th. It worked SO WELL that I once realized I forgot to pay on the 5th, panicked, then I checked the calendar; it was the 9th, and I still had time to pay before the deadline."
3. "We have a blended family of eight, plus a bonus teenager we've taken in. I will make a dinner menu for the week and buy all the groceries necessary for that menu. It cuts back on last-minute purchases and indecision. I also prepare three of their weekly lunches on Sunday afternoons, plus my (and my husband's) breakfasts and lunches for the week. It is a game-changer to have meals planned and prepared when there are so many moving parts."
4. "After groceries arrive, everything that can be processed is processed. I make my salad base for the entire week and wash the lettuce. I chop up all the onions. I often will cook up a batch of chicken breasts. I'll grate up any cheese I expect to need that week. Sometimes, I'll make a pot of brown rice or quinoa. Not only do I have less food waste, I order in less because making meals takes so much less time, and I also spend less time washing dishes."
5. "Two small things that help my ADHD brain from overloading on large projects, and help keep my home/work organized: One, don't put it down, put it away. Two, if the task takes less than one minute, you can do it now. These have become mantras for me, and have made a significant difference. I realize that they may not work for everyone, just wanted to share what has helped me, especially when I can't afford to get professional treatment."
6. "I make a microclimate of positivity that I live in. I can see and hear negativity, I'm not dumb, but I choose positivity. It makes people respond to me and others in a more positive way also. It's contagious."
7. "I have a hard time saying no to things (plans with friends, volunteer stuff, extra work, etc.) and end up so busy I burn out. So, I bought a planner, and now I schedule a time to do nothing and relax each week. Sometimes, it's just two hours on Friday night to sit on the couch alone. It has helped me immensely to be prioritizing some time for myself to decompress and relax. I know having room in the schedule isn't something everyone has time for, but for me, this has made a big difference in my mental health."
8. "After I had a full hysterectomy at 33, my nights of insomnia came around almost nightly. I ended up setting up a nightly routine, and after about a week, those sleepless nights lessened. Mine is electronics off two hours before bed; I put on these funny ankle socks because they make me giggle, take my nightly meds, use lavender lotion on my arms, and most importantly, snuggle with the fur children throughout the evening."
9. "I brush my teeth in the shower. Just seeing my toothbrush there makes me remember."
10. "I have deleted social media from my phone. It has helped greatly with my anxiety. I will check it on the computer at work, but not while I am at home."
11. "The concept of no zero days. On days when I'm feeling lazy and unproductive, I try to do something even if it's as simple as reading or cleaning my room for five minutes."
12. "I do dishes at night so I wake up to a clean sink and clean dishes. I live in a tiny studio and don’t have a dishwasher, so this makes a big difference for me."
13. "Flossing. There are a lot of people who don't floss, but it's an important habit to get into. Once you start flossing, you'll feel gross when you don't do it."
14. "I used to write to-do lists, but if I didn't get to everything on the list by the end of the day, I'd feel terrible, which in turn would weaken my motivation, and I'd be less likely to get them done the next day. Instead, I now make a 'menu' at the beginning of every day with a list of everything that I'd like to get done, big and small. By thinking of my task list as a 'menu,' it becomes much less daunting, as the only tasks that I have to get done are the ones that I choose."
—Anonymous, 35, TX
15. "Being 15 minutes early to appointments. meetings, phone calls, and get-togethers. By getting out of bed 30 minutes earlier than you want to (say 7:30 instead of 8), you have time to get yourself fed and have a cup of coffee at home, get dressed (Oops, you missed a wrinkle in your pants, now you have time to iron!), remember to feed to dog/cat, and do the last minute checklist so you have everything you need for the day. By the time you arrive, you are 15 minutes early, and it looks excellent to your boss or friend. You aren't out of breath, and you look great. I was in the military, and the saying was always, 'On time is late, early is on time, and being late is NEVER acceptable.'"
16. "Keep your finances completely separate from your partner's. You never really know what someone is capable of until you break up and they have nothing to lose (and everything to gain) by destroying you financially."
17. "Pick a room in your house (I chose bathroom), and every time you exit that room, do X number of push-ups, sit-ups, etc. I do 20. I thought it seemed odd when my buddy told me he did this, but after a bit, you notice some changes."
18. "Being nice to your coworkers. Taking 10 minutes to ask them about their day will make them feel better and more likely to help you out in the future."
19. "LISTEN TO BROWN NOISE. As someone with anxiety, I find that working in silence inevitably leaves me alone with my thoughts, which makes me stressed. When I listen to brown noise, it's like those thoughts are cut off for the time being, and I'm not too distracted by what I'm listening to not to focus on the task at hand. If you struggle with a restless mind, it's an absolute lifesaver!"
20. "I make my bed every single morning. There's something about coming home after a long day to a nicely made bed. I swear I sleep better if I climb into a made bed instead of a messy one."
21. "Saving money. I saw a tip that suggested rounding your bank account to the nearest $10 at the end of the day and putting the spare money into savings. So, if you have $63.40 at the end of the day, move the $3.40 into a savings account. Those minimal savings add up a lot surprisingly quickly."
22. "It’s not a specific habit, but: 'Don’t let what you can’t do interfere with what you CAN do.' Do I feel like reorganizing the bathroom vanity and the dumpster fire of a medicine cabinet and mopping? No. But can I fold the laundry while I watch some TV with my boyfriend? Absolutely."
23. "Every time you get home, toss the coins that you accumulated over the course of the day into a coin jar. Yes, do that, even if it's only a penny that you find in the parking lot. Then, when the jar is full, take the jar to the bank, and make an additional deposit into your savings account on top of what you already saved. You'd be surprised by how much that can add up over time."
24. "Plan your errands before you leave the house to both be more efficient in your order and so you can figure out when you can park centrally and walk to a number of places. You'll save time, save money on gas, and if you add walking into the equation, you're adding some exercise. It's amazing how easy it can be to drive to a neighborhood and do everything you need in the neighborhood on your feet."
25. "In college, I started using the Pomodoro technique to study, and it was so effective that I incorporated it into my workday once I got a job! Basically, you work for 25 minutes, then take a five-minute break. Repeat that, and after the fourth 25-minute session, take a 15-minute break."
26. "Apply every moisturizer you have on wet skin. As someone who struggles with dry skin, putting on lotion while my skin is still damp from the shower is a lifesaver. I'll dampen my face again after washing it before applying moisturizer."
27. "I've got three kids, two in grade school and one in middle school, and it was a huge hassle to pack all of their lunches in the morning once this school year started, especially because they all have such different tastes. So, our household has created a system. The night before, our kids can let us know what they'd like for lunch the next day. That way, we can pack what we can the night before to save time. If they don't know, they have the option to pack their own lunch the next day, and we keep snacks and meal options in our kitchen as well. My kids actually love packing their own lunches, and it helps teach them responsibility."
28. "Dental hygiene. Start flossing daily, brush your teeth at least twice a day, scrape your tongue, and use mouthwash in the am (not at night because the alcohol dries out your mouth). You only get one set of adult teeth; it's a lot easier and cheaper to care for them properly than get them all fixed later."
29. "Not only can you freeze soup cubes for future use, but you can also freeze smoothies as well! I'm a big smoothie drinker, but the process of making a smoothie and measuring the ingredients really puts a dent in my morning routine. Also, I find that at least one of my ingredients goes bad before I'm able to use all of it (I'm looking at you, spinach). I bought a few silicone ice cube trays off Amazon, and every Sunday, I'll blend up my ingredients and pour them into the cubes before freezing. This way, in the morning, I just have to mix a few cubes with my liquids, and my smoothie is done! Plus, freezing makes sure that all of my ingredients are able to be used."
30. If you work remotely, make sure you have a space specifically designated for work. When I started working remotely, I used to do all my work in bed, as that was where I was most comfortable. Not only did that mean I was more tired during the workday because I was trying to be productive in the place where I sleep, but it also meant that I became less tired at night because my brain had just spent the last eight hours considering my bed a workspace.
"Now, I try to do work at a makeshift desk, my kitchen table, and have begun going on little field trips to my local libraries and coffee shops to get work done there. If you make sure the only purpose of having a bed is to sleep, it becomes much easier to actually fall asleep when you climb into it at night and get work done somewhere else during the day."