Self Improvement

3 Daily Habits That Make a Huge Difference to Your Day

Akshata Shanbhag 24-11-2014

Life’s good at blindsiding you every now and then. With a few simple strategies, like the ones outlined below, you can become adept at handling all of life’s uncertainties with aplomb. What’s important is to turn these strategies into habits, and the sooner you do that the better.


Live By Your Body Clock

Your body is more intelligent than you give it credit for. Its functions are circadian, which roughly means that they follow an in-built 24-hour cycle and can be adjusted to adapt to the local environment through external stimuli. The circadian rhythm is what accounts for phenomena like jet lag, where your body clock goes awry when you travel across time zones and can be reset to sync with the local time.


With artificial lighting at your disposal, your day doesn’t end when the sun sets. But prolonged exposure to man-made lighting, especially in high doses, can upset your circadian rhythms and mess with your energy and sleep patterns. When your bodily functions stay erratic over time, you experience higher than normal levels of tiredness and stress.

The 24-hour day/night cycle, known as the circadian clock, affects physiologic processes in almost all organisms. These processes include brain wave patterns, hormone production, cell regulation, and other biologic activities. Disruption of the circadian clock is linked to several medical disorders in humans, including depression, insomnia, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

From Missing the Dark: Health Effects of Light Pollution

One way to put your health on the right track is by resetting your body clock to keep it in sync with the sun’s movements. Maintain a record of your sleep cycles and energy levels for a couple of weeks, noting their variations at different times during the day. Study these records to figure out underlying patterns.

Note at which times during the day you feel your best. When do you feel the sleepiest? When do you feel hungry? Knowing these variations can help you optimize your day. When I take a 30-minute nap before lunch, I wake up refreshed and feeling good. When I make it a 30-minute nap post lunch, I wake up sleepy and irritable, and have trouble falling asleep that night. Knowing what I do, I ensure I sneak in that catnap before lunch everyday.



Whether you’re a morning person or a night owl, listen to your body.

Get Back To The Basics

I worry about finding the perfect notebook for my journal. I worry about tweaking my browser just so. I worry that I haven’t read so many important books yet. Then I take a deep breath, stop my notebook-hunting, leave my browser as is, pick an unread book off my shelf and dive in. I’m grateful that I’m ALIVE.

When you’re bombarded with information Eating Only Dessert: Why Your Information Diet Is Probably Terrible [Feature] Email. Social networks. Blogs. Online video. People today consume more information than ever before, and typically only consume the things they really, really like. Clay Johnson compares this to a bad diet. "If you only... Read More and choices 24/7, it’s hard not to get caught up in the details. Inevitably, you lose sight of the bigger picture. You worry about a long list of things including your projects, deadlines, goals, health, and relationships. The best way to center yourself and regain focus is to get the fundamentals right. That holds good whether you’re planning a project, creating a meal plan, or crafting a fitness routine.



What about tools? If that’s your next question, I’d say the best tool is the one that gets the job done to satisfaction and on time. Sure, it’s nice to experiment with fancy tools, apps, gear, etc., but it’s no use getting obsessed about them. Being able to switch gears at a moment’s notice is what resourcefulness is all about, and that comes from getting your fundamentals right. One way to do that is by starting with a minimalist mindset How To Be An Effective Minimalist In Your Daily Life More and more people are choosing to embrace minimalism. In certain situations this can wreak frustrating havoc on your everyday life. With some minimal planning it doesn't have to come to that. Read More , building up your resources as you go along, and trimming the extras frequently.

Tie Up Loose Ends Regularly

You have a list of tasks that you have put on the backburner because they involve some tough decisions or varying levels of discomfort. These often include health checkups, obligatory phone calls, fixing stuff around the house, etc. The guilt of not acting on these tasks gnaws away at your insides. The best way to assuage it is to buckle down and deal with these tasks head-on. It’s painful, but it needs to be done — like ripping off a Band-aid. The relief and satisfaction that follow will convince you of the value of this approach.



Getting those tough tasks out of the way frees up a lot of mental energy, which you can then use to sharpen your life skills 8 Life Skills That Video Games Can Teach You Video games are more than fun! They can teach you life skills that'll help you be more disciplined and successful in life. Read More or pick up a few new ones. Don’t know how to do something? Hop over to MakeUseOf to find relevant resources and solutions. For example, you can fix anything that’s broken Something Broken? Learn To Fix Anything With These 4 Websites You can spend hundreds of dollars to have a professional help you out, or you can learn how to fix it yourself for the cost of some tools and a couple hours of work. Read More , seek reliable medical advice Where Can You Find Reliable Medical Advice Online? Read More , or outsource some of your day-to-day tasks How To Become Super-Productive By Outsourcing Your Day-To-Day Tasks Get more done in a day. By learning what you can outsource, plus a few 'best practice' tips for delegating your day-to-day chores, you too can become super-productive. Read More .

A fun gamification app like HabitRPG can give you some incentive to tackle those unwanted tasks. I’d also recommend a don’t-break-the-chain app to keep yourself disciplined. I have been using one called That and making three small changes to my day Get Things Done With 3 Tiny Changes To Your Day There will be good days and bad days, productive and unproductive ones. You can tilt the scales in favor of the productive days by making some simple changes to your routine. Read More have been effective in boosting my habit-building efforts.

Baby Steps, Please!

Unlike major changes, the tiny ones do not feel daunting. You don’t have to go too much out of your way to make them, and they join hands over to time to create an avalanche-like effect. Use this to your advantage and bring in some easy steps that will make your life both simpler and better.


Now it’s time for you to weigh in. List one change that has single-handedly transformed your life for the better.

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  1. Maryon Jeane
    November 25, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    I should think that the rest of the day would be cancelled, Akshata, while you lay in bed in a darkened room, very, very still!

  2. Maryon Jeane
    November 25, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    I'm not sure who first came up with this one, because over the years it's appeared under various titles and in various guises, but for the last couple of years it's been known as 'Feared Things First' - and it certainly changed my life for the significantly better. Every week I make an actual written list (albeit with my Livescribe, so the list does become digital) of the things which I intend to achieve during that week. On that list will be things that, for one reason or another, I simply don't want to do. Or, at best, which I'm reluctant to do. So these are the things I do when I first sit down at my computer and I'm committed to doing at least one each day.

    The strange thing is that, having tackled one - particularly if it's been a successful tackle - I often go on and do another one. Sometimes I clear all my 'feared things' in one go, and wow! It feels good and it keeps me rolling the whole day afterwards.

    After having tackled a feared thing successfully (or, actually, just having tackled it), the day seems clearer and everything else seems achievable. There's no nagging at the back of my mind when I settle down to do something ("When are you going to get onto..."; "You haven't done..."; "You've still got to...") and I get greater enjoyment out of whatever I'm doing.

    There's also the benefit that, when I make my list for the week, I know that the 'horrid' things are going to get done. Long ago I used to make lists and, each week, the same dreaded tasks would appear, time after time. They didn't get cleared until they became huge, blown up into a real problem. Or until someone else involved in the thing forced my hand (putting me on the back foot). Now I happily write down ALL my ToDos, never 'accidentally' leaving out something lurking - and once everything is written down it's out of my mind. My mind is then clear and I can tackle the new working week with something approaching enthusiasm (!).

    • Akshata
      November 25, 2014 at 3:36 pm

      That is definitely a good approach, Maryon. Once the most dreaded tasks are out of the way, your day can only get better. I think it's termed "eating that frog" based on this Mark Twain quote: "Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day."