10 Small Changes Which Make a Big Difference

small changes

When you want to change something in your life, it can feel overwhelming. Whether it’s losing 50lbs or switching careers, starting a side business or spring cleaning the home, it might be a change you’re desperately keen to make … but getting started is really tough.

You don’t have to take huge, sweeping, radical steps, though. Small and simple changes are often the best way forwards – they’re sustainable and manageable, and you’re not likely to give up after one half-hearted attempt.

Here are ten to try.

1. Set Your Alarm Half an Hour Earlier

There’s never enough time in the day – especially when you want to start something new. Maybe you’d love to write a novel, take up exercise, or have time to pray or meditate.

Rather than trying to overhaul your schedule or make massive efficiency gains, how about simply setting your alarm half an hour earlier? An extra 30 minutes in the morning, before you go out to work, could make all the difference.

2. Go For a Twenty Minute Walk Before Dinner

We all know how importance exercise is – particularly when it comes to keeping our energy levels up and reducing our chance of serious disease. But how many of us really manage to make exercise a consistent part of our lives?

Instead of coming up with yet another over-enthusiastic routine (which lasts for all of a week), go for a much simpler change: add in a twenty minute walk each day, before dinner. You could head to the local store to pick up fresh veggies, or simply walk around the block a few times.

3. Put a Bottle of Water On Your Desk

You may have taken on board the 6 – 8 glasses of water per day message, but do you really manage that? If you do, do you find yourself gulping down water when you get thirsty, after spending a morning or afternoon dehydrated?

One of the simplest tricks for drinking more water is to keep a bottle of it on your desk. It’s easy to take a swig regularly if you’ve got water in arm’s reach – and if you keep the cap on the bottle, there’s no chance of a spillage.

4. Hide the Television Remote (and Keep a Book by the Couch)

reading a book on the couch

Photo by Helga Weber

There’s nothing wrong with watching television. But for many of us, the TV becomes a default activity. It’s all too easy to come home, slump on the couch, and reach straight for the remote without even thinking.

If that’s a habit you’re trying to break, put the remote somewhere else. Hide it in a cupboard or on a high shelf. That way, you’ll have to make a real decision to watch television.

You can go even further with this by putting a book that you want to read, or something else you want to get on with, next to the couch.

5. Take a Packed Lunch to Work

Trying to save money or eat more healthily? Fed up of wasting half your lunch break standing in line to buy a sandwich? Then take your own lunch to work.

It costs much less to make a sandwich at home than to buy one out, and it only takes a few minutes. You’ll know exactly what’s going into your meal, so you can control the amount of fat and the number of calories, too.

6. Skip Your Usual Starbucks Trip

Many of us get into the routine of stopping at a coffee shop every day, maybe en route to work. Perhaps you started doing this as an occasional treat or a convenience when you’d not had time for breakfast – but it’s become a habit.

A few dollars a day might not seem like much – but it adds up over the course of a year. Why not skip that Starbucks stop and set up an automated transfer to put $5/day into your savings account instead? After just a month, you’ll be over $100 better off – that’s more than $1,200 a year.

7. Switch Your Light Bulbs for Energy-Saving Ones

Suffering eco-guilt? A lot of us want to do our bit for the planet – but we don’t know where to start. One of the simplest steps is to switch all your standard light bulbs for energy-saving ones. It’s not only much better for the environment, it’ll also save you money on your electric bill.

If you were put off energy-saving bulbs in the past due to cost or poor light levels, give them another try: the technology has moved on considerably.

8. Write a Grocery List

Do you find yourself spending more in the grocery store than you mean to? Do you constantly end up getting take-out because the cupboards are bare?

A little planning goes a long way when it comes to grocery shopping. Think through the meals you want to eat during the week, and write a list of all the ingredients that you need to buy. It only takes five or ten minutes, and saves you a lot of head-scratching (and wasted money) in the store.

9. Tackle that Thing You’ve Been Putting Off

We all put things off. Maybe it’s making that phone call, tidying your desk, sorting out a few little-but-annoying problems around the home…

It’s surprising how much better you can feel after getting a long-standing chore off your to-do list. Try picking one thing each day to sort out: it’ll only take a few minutes, and after a week or two, you’ll have got a bunch of energy-draining stuff out of the way.

10. Say “Thank You” to Someone

This is such a tiny change, you might think it’s hardly worth doing. Believe me, it is. Saying “thank you” to one person each day – whether it’s a colleague, friend or family member – can make a huge positive difference in your relationships and your own happiness.

Think how good it feels to be recognized and appreciated when you’ve worked hard at a task. By saying a simple “thank you”, you can give other people that same sense of appreciation (and you’ll be turning your own thoughts towards the positive aspects of your relationships).

Got any simple but amazingly effective changes to add? Drop a comment in the box below…

Photo by Shermeee

19 thoughts on “10 Small Changes Which Make a Big Difference”

  1. How about smiling when you make eye contact with someone? Not only does smiling when you see someone for the first time, make you more attractive in their, it also feels good to get a smile back. Its very subtle, yet it is a simple connection with another human that is very easy to do.

    1. I think that’s a great idea. I try to do it with everyone I pass on the street but I’m finding that more and more people are purposely trying to avoid making eye contact. It makes me wonder what’s really going on.

  2. Ali,

    Great post – love the idea of making small changes instead of just sitting around thinking about the big ones we want to make! And your suggestions are great, really good techniques for scooting toward those goals! I found that when I was in the work force, if there was a project I was avoiding, if I just did a 5 minute task (set up a meeting, write an email) a couple times a day pretty soon the project was done – painlessly!


  3. I love these relatively simple but impactful changes that can create a compounded change over a long period of time.

    As you say Melinda, we often can spend time sitting around thinking about our big goals and over look the small simple ones can be just as effective if not even more.

    Consciously incorporating these steps into our daily lives is key.

    Thanks for sharing these ideas

  4. Good tips here. I personally always save money on lunch because I eat at home since I am not currently working. I used to go for walks and it might be a good idea to start walking again after my daughter goes to bed.

    And of course doing things we’ve been putting off is always a good idea… procrastination kills!

  5. I felt like patting myself on the back for having done all the listed “small changes” in this post. How I got there was entirely something I worked hard for. With all the demands of life really heavy, it was a personal victory that I have experienced these, or something very close to the itemized changes. And surprise, surprise, it did me well and I saw myself telling friends how it works and how it worked for me. Thanks for this, Ali! Many more people would no doubt express thanks as well as this is really helpful. OK, I gotta go now. I cannot find my remote… have forgotten the last time I used it. Wanted something different today, maybe a travel channel or something. Before I hide it somewhere again.

  6. Nice post. Small changes are always the ones which make the biggest impact imo. Water is probably the main tip I follow here as I’m stuck in a habit of drinking quite a bit daily now. :)

    p.s. when coming to your site I had a malware warning from Google?

  7. I have been using a few of the techniques that you mentioned.
    I set my alarm clock a bit earlier but I use the time to wake up and perform my activities in a relaxed manner before I set off to work.
    Travelling to work takes me about 1.5 hours and I include my 30 minutes of walk in that time.
    I have also started keeping a water bottle on my work desk so that I keep sipping water and remain hydrated.
    And I do take a lunch packet from home which helps me avoid all the oily food available in the canteen and helps me save some money as well.

  8. Thanks for this. I admit that i did get momentarily distracted at No 4 because the girl in the picture is really beautiful.

    I don’t watch TV at all because there seems to be so much junk in it. Obviously, the same can be said of the internet because there’s so much content floating around trying to catch your attention and i guess this is why reading an actual book is the best form of self-control when absorbing content.

  9. I stopped using an alarm clock years ago. If I need sleep, I get it; if I am ready to get up, I will wake up. There are times when I need to make sure I am up, to get to airport on time for example, so there are exceptions.

    My fave is: Always carry a litter bag in the car. It’s not too big, doesn’t take up too much space… and when it is full, you can just throw it out the window.

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