3 Small Tasks To Make You Happier, Healthier, and More Productive

What beats the thrill of embarking on some new, life-changing plan? Making progress on actual problems.

The truth is you can’t change your life all in one go. What you can do is pick a few things that can be measured and completed, and do them.

Skip any and all purchases in favor of simple, straight-forward action. Here are my suggestions for getting started.

Clean your bathroom, the right way.

I’ve always loathed housework. I kept my home tidy enough, but put off cleaning until I couldn’t stand it anymore. Even completed, it never looked like when a cleaning service tackled it.

Thats because I didn’t really know what I was doing. Even up to age forty-eight, you can spend your life being willfully ignorant about basic chores.

Instead of walking around my apartment and feeling overwhelmed by all that needed doing, I chose the bathroom as a place to learn good technique and execute the task.

I’ll probably never be a person who falls in love with cleaning, but I’m not cringing at my own lack of effort either. That’s a valuable reduction in my mental load. As a bonus, I now know how to properly scrub a shower door.

Alternate: pick a different room or one closet. It needs to be a space that has defied your half-assed attempts to manage it up until now.

Sell or donate 3 things you no longer use.

The only joy that competes or exceeds making a new purchase, is divesting of an unneeded item. Chances are you have quite a few.

Why did I pick only three? Because that’s a quantity that both fulfills the objective of completing a measurable goal, and making a visible difference in reducing clutter.

Last year I downsized from a 2,800 sq ft home to a 1,000 sq ft apartment and sold a lot of stuff (and then donated what didn’t sell). It was fun and cathartic. I purposely moved to a place that wouldn’t allow me to accumulate again.

What’s most interesting is that I never think about the items that are gone. I surely agonized over those purchases, and spent money housing them. Now that they’re gone, they seemed to have vanished from my consciousness.

Once you get going, you might have trouble stopping. It’s a real joy to reclaim your space and have money in your pocket. My one tip is to not overprice your items. They just sit there too long and then you are back to square one.

Alternate: choose a category of things, like shoes. You can take three pairs to a local consignment shop, or sell them on Poshmark.

Pick one unfinished project and complete it.

We’ve all had ideas that were exciting at inception, but didn’t materialize. I move forward on the ones that won’t leave me alone. If I’m thinking about them months and sometimes years later, that’s a good sign they need to be realized.

I did this last year with a writing project. The idea had been lingering in my mind for seven years. In 2010 I’d lost 50 pounds and kept it off precisely because I gave up dieting. I wanted to write about my process, but who was I to give advice? Would people respond to my approach? How would I make it relatable to a wider audience?

These issues began to disappear as I did the work. I had an idea for a format and made time to sit down and write. All my other projects were put away in order to focus on completing this one.

The result was two features in NBC’s Better column, 1200 new signups for my newsletter, and evergreen content here on Medium that continues to bring in revenue. I may even write a book proposal.

Not too shabby.

Alternate: You can also pick one unfinished project and toss it. The idea is to clear away lingering obligations so that you can make progress on the work that most interests you.

Sign up for one skill-based class.

Modern careers require a complicated web of skills, and for many of us it can be tough to keep up simply by being at work.

For my part, I’ve never learned how to use spreadsheets. That seems ridiculous considering how long I’ve worked for myself or led companies, but my emphasis was understanding models and building revenue. So, I never learned.

This year, I’ve decided to quit feeling sheepish about this skill gap and take a class. There’s an incredible amount of resources out there both free and paid. The class below is my starting point. Next, I’ll take an Excel course on Udemy.

Chances are you know of one skill that could benefit your current work and future prospects. Your employer might even pay for it. Find it, make the ask, take it even if they won’t.

You get to keep that knowledge for the duration.

No one thing I’ve suggested will magically transform you into a productive person. Productivity is a practice, not a state of being.

What these will do is get you started on the daily work. All meaningful progress is incremental. Even if your first step is small, that’s just fine.

Place one foot forward, then another, and another.

I teach permanent weight loss. Founder @ notanotherdiet.co