Ten 5-Minute Habits That Can Change Your Life

06/20/2015 11:44 am ET | Updated Jun 20, 2016
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Having good habits is the difference between your life being an easy, smooth-sailing adventure, and it being a train wreck. Why? Because good habits allow us to keep the little things under control so that we can effectively handle the big things. With good habits, we are able to navigate life's obstacles with ease. And they make life generally more pleasant.

The habits listed below aren't time consuming. They simply should be part of your everyday routine. So here are some good, quick habits that you can do each day to make your life easier and more enjoyable.

1. Make Your Bed: There is something demoralizing about returning home from a long day of work and looking at an unmade bed. Let's face it. An unmade bed is depressing. It says, "I am so disorganized, I don't even have 1.5 minutes to clean up after myself in the morning." It also makes your bedroom look like a brothel, but not in a sexy way, just in a dirty, sad way. When you walk into your bedroom and the bed is made, you'll feel like you at least have the basics of life under control.

2. Floss Daily: Yes, flossing sounds boring, but there are a zillion reasons to do it twice a day. Let's start with your breath. If you don't floss, no one will want to stand within 10 feet of you because your breath will smell terrible. Let's move on to your finances. If you don't floss, you most assuredly are going to have dental issues uncovered by insurance, and you can say goodbye to that trip to Europe. You instead will be funding your periodontist's new boat.

3. Always Say "Thank You": We are becoming a society that is reluctant to use manners. It seems too formal, when we just want to be casual. The problem is that gratitude is necessary to inspire others to want to interact with you. You may think that people like you, but if you never thank them for what they do for you, here's a news flash: They are just tolerating you. Moreover, if you don't say "thank you," no one is going to want to help you when you are in a real bind, e.g. stuck in the middle of nowhere with a flat tire and no spare.

4. Leave Early: A good rule of thumb is that it typically will take you longer to get somewhere than you anticipate. So always leave five minutes earlier than necessary. That way you aren't destroying your karma by cursing out the accident victim on the side of the road whose car has been totaled, while you are stuck behind rubberneckers and late for your meeting.

5. Make Your Own Coffee: I love Starbucks more than anyone, but spending $2.00 on a cup of black coffee when you can make your own at home for about 27 cents is silly. Paying more than necessary for things is a bad habit. We should always be careful of how we spend our money, even if we are as rich as Bill Gates. Now buying a $2.00 cup of coffee makes sense if I am going to sit down and experience the ambience of being in a coffee house. Then I am spending 27 cents on coffee and $1.73 on ambience. That is OK. But if I grab a $2.00 cup of coffee and run out the door, I've just wasted $1.73. Wasting money is not going to get you anywhere in life (see "flossing").

6. Tip Generously: Use the money you've saved by flossing and making your own coffee to tip service people properly. Being in a service profession is hard work. Service people not only provide a service, but they have the added pressure of having to interact with a million different personalities. Their work is not for the faint of heart. The least you can do as a consumer is to make someone's day by tipping them generously for a job well done. And then you can spend your day knowing that you voluntarily did the right thing for another human being.

7. Don't Leave Dirty Dishes in the Sink: Having a kitchen filled with dirty dishes isn't just about being messy. Filthy dishes are a magnet for bugs (fruit flies, roaches, etc.). I like bugs, but they need to live outdoors, not in my kitchen. If you get in the habit of doing your dishes immediately after using them, you'll save the money that you otherwise would be handing over to an exterminator to subsidize his new boat.

8. Leave Every Room Better Than When You Entered It: As you go through your house or apartment, tidy up as you pass through each room. You will be amazed how much easier it is to keep your environment organized if you do a little bit at a time. That may sound anal retentive, but it really is about living in a beautiful space. No matter where we live, we have the choice to either create a beautiful space or a mess. You will feel better and be happier if you live in beauty, so why not do the small things necessary to make that happen?

9. Compliment Others: Just as we are reluctant to say "thank you," we seem to be turning into a society that is averse to paying a compliment. Encouraging others is an important skill. And it isn't time consuming. Paying a compliment merely involves the decision to vocalize all those thoughts we have during the day that we don't say out loud. How often do you notice someone's haircut or blouse but don't tell them it looks great? How often do you think, "Wow, they did a great job on that project," but forget to mention it to them? When we authentically compliment others, our relationships improve, and we feel better about ourselves by having acted kindly.

10. Make Sure Your Transportation Is Always Ready: We all have to get to places on time and safely. So it is important that whatever you use for transportation is ready. That means making sure your gas tank is always above half full. That means making sure your public transportation card has enough money on it at all times. That also means that if you are relying on a cab, you call for one well ahead of time.

It is funny how if we accomplish the little things, everything else in life seems to run smoother. We feel better about ourselves, we have more stability in our relationships, our homes are more pleasant to be in, we are healthier, and we are under less stress generally. When we implement good habits, life more easily falls into place.