100+ Glorious Ideas For Incremental Life Improvements

Categories ....The 52 Cards Experiment0 Comments

The main idea behind the 52 Cards Experiment is to create lasting change through habit formation.

BUT.

This is hard.  Changing up your life can create a lot of stress because you have to think about it.  Normally, most of our daily habits are on autopilot and require zero thought.  So, for new changes to last, you have to deal with the mental stress of an action that is not on autopilot, at least long enough for it to become a habit that can be done automatically.

Things you want to do weekly or monthly are not good candidates for this project.  Neither are things that are quite immeasurable, like “be happier.”  Instead, choose small, concrete actions that will help you accomplish the other weekly or monthly things.  Like setting aside 10 minutes to tidy up in the AM and PM.  You can attach this habit to a few others that are already in your daily routine, set a timer for it, and when it is done, lie down on the sofa and read a favorite book or listen to a favorite playlist.  A (slightly) cleaner home, a thing accomplished, and a reward earned might all make you feel happy, thereby accomplishing the larger goal.

If you have a twice weekly goal of folding the laundry as soon as it is dry (I regard this as impossible, LOL), you might designate two days a week to be the days you wash and dry everything, then promise yourself a catch up night on shows or movies that you can watch while you fold.  Now it is attached to specific days which makes it concrete, and you have something to look forward to that will make the chore less unpleasant.  In order to create a card around it for the 52 Cards Experiment, you could spend 30 minutes every night doing some kind of chore while watching a favorite show/a movie/Trevor Noah/whatevs.  I always have a pile of clothes that need a stitch or a button, some toys to glue back together, an area that needs dusting, yada yada.  It would be far more enjoyable to watch something or listen to a podcast while doing this, and might even become (dare I say) a treat to do these kinds of chores.

If it is done daily, it can become a habit.  Read the other posts about the 52 Cards Experiment to set yourself up for some of these changes listed below.  If you have a question as to why some of the stranger things down here work, just comment below and I can send you a link.  There is research behind most of them, but I do not have the time to link it all at the moment.

List of Habits by Topic

Productivity

  • Use a notification blocking or internet blocking app to keep off of social media while working
  • Use a Pomodoro style of task management with breaks
  • Make your bed every day
  • Only use Facebook on the toilet (I know, gross, but you know you do it, and it’s an easy way to limit yourself)
  • Do a 10-minute tidy up in the AM, PM, or both
  • Do a 10-minute email tidy session daily, to delete, file away, or unsubscribe
  • If a long project has concrete steps to finish it, mandate doing 1 small thing towards this daily
  • Determine the length of time you can be productive on a long task and organize your day to have that block of time available as much as possible
  • Use a habit stack to take care of daily tasks and use an app like Smart Timer to remind you of these tasks (or a checklist)
  • Limit daily tasks like tidying up, loading the dishes, preparing lunches, etc., to 15-minute blocks and use smart timer if you have a timed routine to complete each day
  • Create an ideal work environment with things like lighting, cozy factor (candle maybe, or small desk area near couch, basically make it a place you want to be), tea/water/coffee, app to turn off notifications for a set period, all supplies needed at hand, free from distractions or clutter, etc.

Health (Food Related)

  • Eat 1 green thing every day (choose whatever color, food, etc you are trying to add to your life)
  • Only drink soda at parties (or some other infrequent events in your life where they may show up)
  • Only eat potato chips at parties
  • Replace mayo with avocado
  • Don’t buy (whatever your weakness is)
  • Only eat ice cream out of the house and as a special treat
  • Eat some kind of protein at breakfast
  • Drink 2 glasses of water before eating a meal, or start your meal with a broth soup
  • Spread breakfast breads with nut butter or hummus instead of jelly
  • Eat greek yogurt instead of regular
  • Grate a vegetable into muffin batter (try carrot or zucchini)
  • Use milk or soymilk instead of water in oatmeal to enhance to calcium and protein content (you can also add flavored protein powder to it as well)
  • Choose the darkest salad greens you can
  • If you drink sugary cocktails, switch to a bloody mary
  • Eat the darkest chocolate you can stand.
  • Replace meat with beans or tofu
  • Use a food diary daily
  • Plate your food with small plates and bowls so a small amount of food looks big
  • Serve your food from the stove, not the table (harder to get seconds, thirds, eighths, no I have never done that, joking, not joking)
  • ***Some of the above are more like rules than habits, but I think if you remind yourself of them daily, they act as a mantra, and will be something you follow when the time comes for it

Health (Fitness Related)

  • Yoga every day
  • 1 push up challenge
  • 1 jumping jack
  • 1 squat
  • 1 plank
  • 1 deadlift
  • 1 crunch
  • 1 anything really
  • Stretch daily
  • Don’t eat after 7pm
  • Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning
  • Drink a cup of green tea each day
  • Dance to a song every day
  • Find a way to walk more every day
  • Take the stairs two at a time

Keeping Your Mind Active

  • Listen to a podcast every day
  • Use Duolingo to learn a little bit of a foreign language each day
  • Learn 1 new vocabulary word each day and try to use it as often as you can (try http://www.dictionary.com/wordoftheday/
  • News reading break each day
  • Take up a new hobby and do a little bit each day
  • Do a math problem every day

Energy/Self-Care

  • Walk tall, with good posture and with confidence.
  • Take a power nap in the afternoon when energy slumps
  • Get to bed earlier/sleep better with the following tips:
    • Make a cozy (dark, maybe candle-lit) lighting scheme every night an hour or two before bedtime
    • Plug in distracting electronics away from the bed so you don’t get sucked into them instead of going to sleep
    • No electronics an hour or two before bedtime
    • Do calming yoga or meditation before bed
    • Write down everything that is on your mind before bed
    • No alcohol before bed
    • Set your alarm for the same time every day
    • Wear an eye mask to block out every tiny sliver of light
  • Say a mantra each day, maybe at a certain time of day
  • Listen to the most relaxing song ever (according to neuroscientists) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfcAVejslrU
  • Sing daily
  • Wear lipstick
  • Put on lotion
  • Do your nails
  • Lie on the couch and relax to music
  • Write in a gratitude journal
  • Plan something to look forward to at the end of the month, then spend 10 seconds each day visualizing it and looking forward to it
  • Fake smile for 30 seconds each day
  • Do Power Poses
  • Dance first thing in the morning
  • Exercise (see section above)
  • Declutter, organize, toss things you don’t need
  • Act energetic
  • Enjoy the present
  • Do a passion project a little bit each day
  • Look at happy memories each day (FB memories is good for this, or post happy photos on the fridge or make a computer wallpaper with digital pics)
  • Find ways to laugh more (read comics, watch comedy, tell jokes with your kids)
  • Do acts of kindness or give encouragement

Marriage

  • Give 3 hugs per day for 6 seconds minimum
  • Speak kindly
  • No nagging (is this even possible?)
  • Stop expecting praise or appreciation (pretty sure this isn’t possible, LOL, but hey, it’s Watch Mom Try, so I will)

Connecting with your Kids

  • Ask, “Did you ask a good question today?”
  • Ask, “Did you do or say something kind today you want to share?”
  • Ask, “What did you fail at today?” (or, what did you try today)
  • Hide laptop after finishing work for the day
  • Give 3 hugs to each kid each day
  • Look deep in the eyes of each child each day
  • Set up an “activity table” each day for doing homework, review, enrichment, play, reading together, bonding, games (anything!)
  • Speak gently.
  • Exercise with the kids: create an obstacle course or circuit, run, play, chase, go for a bike ride, teach them some tumbling, learn the basics of breakdancing together (Google how to do a 6-step)
  • Be silly (play “Do You Like My New Hat?” and stick random things on top of your head)
  • At bedtime, ask your kids to tell you 3 good things from the day and help them if they can’t think of anything–it’s a great way to focus on the positive every day
  • Give space for your kids to express their emotions (don’t brush them off)
  • Speak in the positive whenever you can (“speak in a kind voice please” instead of “don’t whine”)

Connecting With Others, Strengthening Friendships

  • Check out the birthdays on FB and take time to send people a note.
  • Send a message to a friend each day, maybe send them a compliment, or just a “thinking of you” note

Religion

  • Do a daily devotional yourself and/or with your kids
  • Pray daily
  • Do an act of kindness every day
  • Give encouragement to someone every day
  • Look at people and remember they are a child of God and are beloved (give them compassion instead of denigration if they annoy you)
Jennifer Jasensky is a Dubai resident, United States transplant, former mathematics teacher and dancer/choreographer. She is an outgoing homebody and perpetual idealist whose love of learning knows no bounds. She is most happy enjoying a good book with a plate of kaya toast, runny eggs, and kopi-c peng siew dai, but now that she has moved from
Singapore to Dubai, drinking an iced latte in the ocean is fast becoming her happy place.

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