“5 Simple Life Hacks (For a Better You)”
11 minute read
I’ve had a number of random ideas for articles floating around in my head just recently.
These ideas come to me all the time and at completely random moments during the day; sometimes it’s when I’m at the supermarket, other times it’s when I’m driving, and heck, it can even be when I’m sat on the toilet (I must be really comfortable with you now dear reader if I’m sharing that last one).
These ideas get scribbled down on little bits of paper, on the packaging of water crackers, the backside of a beer mat, or on two or three sheets of toilet paper (once again I reiterate that I must be really comfortable with you now dear reader).
But putting aside these unnecessarily explained scenarios, the point is, ideas come along all of the time and they need to be captured as quickly as possible and by any means necessary. Once an idea has come and then gone, you very rarely remember it for a second time, or at least not in as much detail. You very rarely find creativity, and instead, creativity finds you. It creeps up on you silently and smacks you upside the back of the head; a bit like a ninja.
These notes eventually find their way onto a pin-board and then slowly meld their way into a giant collage of potential content for the site. However, there are times when I look at this random mix of brain spillage and I ask myself…
“Does that idea really warrant an entire article?”
And very often the answer is no, it does not.
The ideas then sit there, for days, weeks, or even months; just hanging there with a drawing pin pierced right through them; their good intentions being all but forgotten.
But a few days ago I was hit with a mini Eureka! moment. It was a realisation that saw me running up the stairs of my house and across the landing until I was stood in front of the pin-board. My eyes flitted back and forth, from beer mat to water cracker packaging, and then on to the toilet paper. I knew that I had a really good collection of ideas in front of me, but that the key word right there was ‘collection’. These ideas did not need an article of their own, and instead they just needed to be shared.
What you have in front of you right now is the very first collection of ideas, and although the content of this article is somewhat random, I will be keeping it relevant to life and personal development. These ideas are all about making the best of ourselves, of our lives, and of the time that we have.
I hope you enjoy it, and as always, please do feel free to share and to comment. And if you do apply any of these ideas to your own life then please do drop me a line via my contact page. I would love to hear your story.
1. Become a higher level of average
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Jim Rohn
This quote is true. It is so painfully true. Make no mistake about it, you are influenced by the people that you spend most of your time with. We all are.
Have you ever noticed that if you’re in the company of happy and positive people, you then feel happy and positive too? Have you ever gone out with a group of people who are the life and souls of the party and that you then find yourself becoming a much more fun and outgoing version of your usual self? Or have you ever noticed how drained you feel when you’ve been in the company of people who like to bitch and complain and see the negative in everything?
It can never be under-estimated just how much our closest relationships affect us. They can affect our moods, our levels of motivation, self-esteem, and our overall outlook on life.
However it is not acceptable to blame any of our negative attitudes or failings on anybody but ourselves, and I believe whole-heartedly in holding yourself accountable at all times. If you’re unhappy with your life and the way in which you live it, then it is down to you to make the changes. Nobody else will do it for you. Nobody else will come and rescue you.
Take a look around and ask yourself if the people you spend your time with are having a detrimental effect. Are they playing a part in your downfall? Are they holding you back? If they are then you need to make changes.
But this isn’t just about removing the negative drains on your life, because it is also about creating a better environment for yourself; something more nurturing. If you’re looking to live a certain way or are looking to achieve something in particular, then the best way to do that is to be around people that are either seeking the same things that you are, or to be around people who have already achieved the things that you’re looking to achieve. Seek out people who will mentor you, or people who will help to keep you accountable.
If you’re looking for peace and well-being in your life, then join a yoga class or meditation group and make friends with the people there. If you are looking to become a better cook, then join a cookery class and talk to the people there about your passion for food. If you want to become more literate, then join a book discussion group. If you’re considering entrepreneurship, then seek out people who are already successful in business.
I know this sounds obvious, but we don’t always do it. Instead we just accept life as it is and tell ourselves that this is just the way it is. But just as the old saying tells us that we need to crack a few eggs if we want to make an omelette, we sometimes have to end relationships in our lives if we wish to reach a better place. We need to clear the pathway so we can continue forwards and live our truths.
But as a final point, let’s flip the script for the moment.
This isn’t just about how you are influenced by the people around you, because it is also about how you influence the lives of those very same people. To each of the people you spend your time with, you become one of those five people that set the average in their lives. Therefore you have a responsibility to become the very best version of yourself so that you can help others to do the same.
We are all responsible, and we should not be dragging others down. Instead we should all be helping to lift each other up.
2. Create and complete a ‘must do’ list…every single day
This second idea is as simple as they come. No really, it is. If ever there was an action you could take that defined the term ‘simple but effective’, then this is that action. In short, create yourself a ‘must do’ list every single day.
Now I don’t know about you, but I’m a very busy person and have an almost overwhelming amount of things that I need to get done. With each passing day the list gets bigger, and despite managing to get organised and prioritise things, I often struggle to, you know, actually get things done. And this is where the ‘must do’ list comes in.
At the end of each day, sit down for five minutes with a blank piece of paper and plan out your next day. For most of us the day involves going to work for 7 or 8 hours, and so it often means we only have a few spare hours available in the evening. These are the few hours when we need to become optimal.
Some of this spare time will be taken up with domestic chores such as cleaning, ironing, or mowing the lawn; you know, those things that are really tedious yet essential. Next, pick out a few other jobs that you really need to get done and which are achievable in the spare time that you have. Fit in as much as you can and be ambitious, but make sure that you’re realistic. When the next day comes around and you’re able to set about doing these things, don’t even allow yourself to go to bed until every single one of the items is ticked off.
Now there are two key things that I mentioned above which must be adhered to if this is to work, and these two things are absolutely imperative…
Be realistic with your timing
Every item on the list must be ticked off before you can go to bed
The concept of realistic timing is simple. If you over-egg how much you can get done in the time you have, it won’t get done. If you only allow yourself an hour to do something that takes two hours, it won’t get done.
As for ticking items off, if you don’t do everything on the list and just say to yourself…
“It’s okay. I’ll just roll it on until the next day. Now pass me the TV remote and let me eat another doughnut.”
…then you’ll soon be putting everything off until the next day. You’ll become more and more disheartened and you’ll be forever hitting the snooze button on the things you need to do. Believe me, I’ve been there myself.
My own personal list each day normally involves working out (that comes first), then doing my boring domestic chores (that comes second), and then finally getting things done for the website (responding to emails, working on collaborations, writing a minimum number of words for a new article, or creating a new meme for social media). I stick this list to the door of my refrigerator every evening and I won’t allow myself to go to bed until I’ve crossed off every single item.
This technique really does work, and although you may only take a tiny bite out of that huge apple each day, as the days pass by you’ll soon find that the apple has gone; the core, the pips, everything.
You will get it all done, bit by bit, little by little. And when you go to bed each night having done everything you set out to do, you’ll sleep like a baby.
Each and every day will become a day in which you can expect to achieve. Each and every day will become a step forward in the right direction.
3. Become the star of your very own reality TV show
I hate reality TV, and I hate it with a passion. But have you ever imagined what it would be like to star in your own reality TV show?
Let me explain.
Imagine that a camera crew is following you around for a whole day; what would that look like? Would it be entertaining viewing? Would it be inspiring?
If you go to work each day and just keep your head down and do bare minimum, how would that come across to the viewer?
If you have dreams that you wish to pursue but never actually get started, what would the viewer think of you?
And if you have opportunity after opportunity to do something meaningful, yet pass it all up in favour of sitting around on your backside and playing videogames, what would that say about your life?
If you were watching a reality TV show of somebody who lives the way you live, would you want to keep watching? Or would you change the channel and instantly forget the show because of how dull, boring, and totally forgettable it all was?
Yes, I know. That sounds pretty damn harsh doesn’t it? But if you’re already on this website and if you’re already reading this article, then you’re doing so because you’re committed to improving the quality of your life and to achieving the things you’ve always wished to achieve.
You want more, and you deserve more.
Sometimes we need that wake up call. Sometimes we need that kick up the backside to remind us of how short and precious life is, and that we cannot afford to waste any of it.
But this isn’t simply about the things that we do with our time, but also about how we conduct ourselves as people and our character traits. This includes our behaviours, our habits, and how we interact with people.
If the camera was on you at all times, including all those ‘behind the scenes’ moments; would you be happy with what the viewer would see? Would you be proud of the person you are? Be honest with your answers.
So here is a little activity for you; for one day, imagine a camera crew is capturing every single moment of your day. They won’t miss a thing, and they capture each and every thing that you do and say. Pretty soon you will become conscious of exactly what you do with your time, you will become conscious of whether you’re working as hard as you should be, whether you’re making the best of what you have, and you will suddenly be aware of how you treat other people and how other people respond to you.
You will also realise whether or not you treat yourself with respect.
Live your life in such a way that you can be proud of each and every moment.
4. Take small incremental steps and be consistent to form your new habits
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” Lao Tzu
The most common mistake that a lot of people make when trying to make changes in their lives is that they immediately go to extremes. Sadly though, unless that person is equipped with a huge reserve of willpower then the chances are they will quickly burn out.
When this happens, it is very often the beginning of the end and no progression ever gets made.
It happens with exercise when people suddenly decide that they need to get fit. They go out, buy all the necessary running gear, buy the thingy-me-bob that allows them to strap their iPod to their bicep, and then they set off on a ten mile run having never run a day in their life. A hundred meters down the road they run out of breath, develop an agonising stitch, throw up, and then they walk back home, throw their running shoes in the bin, and then sit down and eat a doughnut.
It very often happens with diets too. People will realise that they need to lose a little weight and become a little healthier and so they go out and buy all the healthy cook books, the storage containers, and then they change their diets and eating habits overnight. But this becomes a shock to the system and they suddenly start to crave all their favourite sweet and fatty foods until it all becomes way too unbearable to continue. The cookery book then goes in the bin, the storage containers are used to store jelly beans, and then they sit down and eat another doughnut.
The best way to tackle any major changes in life is to approach them by taking small incremental steps.
Put on those running shoes and jog one hundred meters on the first day, then two hundred, then five hundred, and then a kilometre. Build at a pace that pushes you, but that is manageable. Do it once a week, then twice a week, then three, five, seven days a week. Before you know it you’ll be as fit as a fiddle and achieving results you never thought possible.
Buy the healthy cookery book and plan the changes that you wish to make, but make those changes steadily. Cutting out sugars and fatty foods is like breaking an addiction, so it has to be done steadily. Make it one meal a day that is healthy, and then progress that until the entire day is filled with healthy goodness. Allow yourself treats like a reward for your hard work. To begin with have one treat a day, then make it every other day, and then work your way towards having a treat just once a week. But whatever you do, take it steadily.
The first time I stepped foot into a Muay Thai gym my only goal was to get through one beginners class. All I wanted to achieve was a little bit of fitness and a dose of extra confidence, and I wanted to be as quiet as possible and hide myself away at the back of the room. And I did just that, and then I did it again, and then I started talking to people as I steadily made myself towards the front of the class. Did I ever think I’d begin sparring? Hell no. Did I ever think I’d end up fighting competitively? You’re kidding aren’t you!
Put one foot forward, then another, and another. You have no idea just how far your journey could take you.
5. Produce a visual life plan
Has anybody ever asked you that question of where you see yourself five years from now? Did you then conjure up a mental image in your mind of where you want to be and the type of person you hope to become? Me too, and that is what gave birth to this fifth and final life hack.
However, instead of just thinking about the next five years, I want you to start thinking way beyond that. Think about the habits you hope to develop, the position you wish to reach in your career, think about the places you’d like to travel, the hobbies you want to take up, the new relationships you wish to find, and the existing relationships you want to improve. Think about where you to be, where you want to go, who you want to spend your time with. Think about the skills you want to gain, the dreams you want to achieve, and think about all the things that will make you a more rounded, more successful, and much happier version of the person you are right now.
Think of the life you can create and that you can look back on and be proud of.
Now take a large piece of paper or a whole bunch of post-it notes, and then write down each and every one of those things.
Map out your perfect life.
Once you’ve done that, stick it up somewhere where only you can see it, but where you’re guaranteed to see it each and every day. This could be the inside of your bathroom cabinet, the inside of your wardrobe door, or on the pinboard in your study.
At the beginning and end of each day, stand in front of this life plan and let your eyes run over it. Recap every item on there and then visualise yourself achieving each one to their fullest. Do this consistently until you know the chart inside out. Visualise and memorise.
Finally, you then need to start taking action on implementing all of these visions. Just like with life hack number 4, take small steps and do it in increments, but be sure to do it. Believe me, once you start edging forward with your life plan, it will become addictive.
Start living your life so that each and every breath is dedicated to moving forward and to achieving the results that you desire. Make the chart your truth.
If you begin to identify that something you’re doing is holding you back and keeping you from the life you really want, then take a moment, acknowledge this, and cut it off.
The results may come steadily, but they will come. And slowly but surely, it will all become achievable.
With the right discipline you’ll get there. I promise you. And this will be the sweetest journey you’ll ever take in your life.
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Found myself nodding in agreement throughout this but strongly agree with number 1 and 4 the most.
I spend most of my time surrounded by my kids and other peoples kids and they bring such a positive energy to the house. Every day the kids I care for turn up with smiles on their faces ready to play and tackle anything that the day throws at them – who could fail to be positive when you’re surrounded by that. I used to work with such grumpy adults it was miserable!!
Thanks for a great read
Hi Clare, and thank you so much for your comment. It’s great to hear from somebody who gets to experience so much positivity around them each day, and it really does go to show the difference other people can make in your life. It’s wonderful that you made the change from working with grumpy people to working with smiley children instead. Thank you for sharing and I’m really glad you liked the article.
Hi Elliot, first I want to say thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. Uplifting weekend read!! I create my “I-must-do-this” list every day, and I use “Post-its” for that list. I keep them in my bag, on my desk, in the kitchen and even in the toilet (don´t laught). The best ideas come at the most unexpected moments…;-)
I have to work a little bit more on #4, I am terribly impatient! But I think the trick is to keep taking those smaller steps while keeping a positive attitude about the progress you’re making. It’s harder to do than it sounds because often these steps are not glamorous and it feels like you’re not getting anywhere. It’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture and where you’re going.
Well, Elliot, inspiring article…god bless u! I´m sure it´s gonna make a great difference in someones life and I´m one of them…
Much love from Spain. Katy
Hi Katy, and thank you for your comments as always. I’m really pleased you enjoyed the article. The five hacks aren’t necessarily things that each and every person should live by, but if their message is relevant to your life/other people’s lives, then they can certainly be very effective if used. Ultimately, as long as we’re all genuinely happy with the way in which we live, well…that’s what it’s all about isn’t it. Pick and choose whatever works for you, and leave the rest. Have a wonderful day my friend, and thank you for your dedication to this site. It means a lot to me.