How are things with work, your financial situation, and your home? Would you like to change anything? How about your relationships with family and friends, your health and fitness and your spiritual life? Are you completely satisfied with the way things are? Most all of us would like to change a few things. Are you aware that you can significantly change your life for the better in ten minutes or less?
The key to success and happiness is having balance in the different areas of your life. A workaholic for example may spend all his or her time focusing on work, finance and maybe even community while totally neglecting family and friends, health, and spiritual issues. This person probably appears to be successful but may actually be very unhappy. To have both success and happiness you must have balance and you can achieve this balance in short ten minute segments of time.
Stephen Covey is the well known author of The 7 habits of Highly Effective People. In his book and in his workshops he asks this question in regard to the different life areas. “What one thing, if you did it consistently, would have the greatest positive impact on your life?”
The list that follows are some of the actions that I believe can be life changing if applied consistently. I have implemented several items on this list and have great intentions for implementing the others. You will, I am sure, come up with your own list.
Daily Planning – Spend ten minutes at the beginning of each day planning your work. Even if you don’t have a traditional job there is still the business of life to attend to. Mark Twain said, “Work and play are words used to describe the same thing under differing conditions.” It doesn’t matter what form your work takes, just ten minutes spent planning your day will save you time in the long run and help you be more effective in what ever you do.
Track Your Spending – It’s difficult to be financially successful if you are unaware of how you are actually spending your money. Record transactions in financial software like Quicken or Microsoft Money or create your own spreadsheet. Most of my spending is by check or check card. I can enter an entire week of spending into Quicken in ten minutes. This ten minute action once a week allows me to pull up expense reports that tell me exactly where my money went and that information will help me plan future spending.
Exercise– I spend eight minutes three days a week lifting weights. I currently do arm curls and lifts with eight pound weights. I plan to work up to ten pound weights. I am making a difference in my upper body fitness in just eight minutes three days a week.In a recent training program that I attended, Barbara Hemphill, America’s favorite organizer, and the author of Taming the Paper Tiger at Home, talked about an exercise program called “FIT 10”. It is a complete fitness program that takes only 10 minutes a day. I plan to look into it soon.
Floss Your Teeth -You can also greatly improve the health of your teeth and gums by flossing your teeth. This is a daily action that can be performed in ten minutes or less. Flossing prevents gingivitis which is inflammation of the gums. Gingivitis has been linked to heart disease. Just think this one daily action could save your teeth and prevent heart disease. If you are not flossing and want to start you must put it on your calendar. You will only need to schedule it for a month or two until it becomes a habit.
Active Listening – We are all so busy that sometimes we rush through a day and evening hardly communicating with our immediate family members. Most of the communication is so hurried that we rarely remember what was said. What if you plan to spend ten minutes a day really listening to your spouse or another family member?
Reach out and Touch Someone – In 1981 AT&T came up with the slogan ‘Reach out and touch someone’. The idea was simply to get customers to make more use of the telephone. How about all those friends that you have lost touch with? A ten minute phone call or e-mail once a week could revive those relationships.
De-clutter your surfaces – You can prevent clutter from accumulating in your home by spending ten minutes each evening putting away the items that have accumulated on the flat surfaces in your home. If your surfaces are currently buried in clutter then it will take more time, but once they are clear then ten minutes a day will keep them clear. That is an action that empowers you and carries over to other areas.
Meditate or Pray – Ten minutes each morning in prayer or meditation can make a positive impact on your day. I recently read that devoting ten minutes each day to gratitude has the potential to change your attitude and we all know that an attitude change can be life changing.
Daily journaling – In the mid 1980’s I read The Sidetracked Sisters’ Happiness File by Pam Young and Peggy Jones. These two sisters had written two previous books describing how to get organized using three by five index cards. In ‘Happiness’, the girls teach daily journaling on index cards. The premise is that an index card is the right size for capturing daily events and the task can be completed in ten minutes. You may also journal in a book or use the computer. This is a daily discipline that will bring joy to you and your loved ones later on. Please remember that what you write today may be read by others tomorrow.
Tackle a routine chore – I am a recovering perfectionist procrastinator. In my disorderly past I would constantly put off doing routine chores because I didn’t think that I had time to do them perfectly. Perfectionism is crippling. The laundry was never caught up, the sink was full of dirty dishes, the filing was never done, and I was late paying the bills. I have learned that many of these tasks can be completed adequately in ten minutes or less. The key is adequately not perfectly. There really is no such thing as perfection. My suggestion to you would be to time some of these tasks. You will be amazed at the results.
Make a list of your life categories and then ask yourself the Stephen Covey question. “What one thing, if you did it consistently, would have the greatest positive impact on your life?” Write down an action item for each category. You will find that many of your life changing action items can be done in ten minutes or less. I strongly encourage that you include daily planning on your list because you must plan to take action on the rest of the items. Start with just four or five items. Work them until they become habits then add some more. I promise that if you work this plan you will see significant changes in your life.