The month of August is often like the last fifteen minutes of a good TV show- you know that it’s about to end but just hate to see it go. Please know that if you were to take action on all 30 of the following suggestions, the last thing your life would be is simplified. The key is to pair back, do less and live more. Pick two or three, do them well and see what happens.
Wear sandals. They’re cheaper than regular shoes and you can save on not buying new socks. Whenever bear feet are present, relaxation follows.
Clean out your wardrobe. Do you really need 14 pocket books? Are 5 pairs of dress shoes really necessary? Cleaning out old clothes is good for your closet and even better for your spiritual well-being.
Throw something away. Few things clear the mind like tossing something into the trash. Go with your gut and do what feels right.
De-Spam with pleasure. Nothing says “ah” like getting a spammer off your back. Report them, block them and clear your in-box of those that would make daily life a living hell.
Walk it. If you can add some free exercise into your lifestyle, why not walk it? Choose a farther parking space, go for a stroll at lunch or just add a brisk 10 minute walk to your after-dinner ritual.
Trade it in. Many people don’t know that you can trade in your old cell phone contract, not to mention your phone. You can also swap a car, clothing and old appliances. If it’s been bugging you, act on it today. A good resource is www.freecycle.org for donating a lightly-used product.
Upgrade your gear. Rather than be “that guy” who is always upgrading without actually learning the finer points of a PDA, GPS or software package, be a connoisseur of fine gadgetry and upgrade when you are ready. The right tool at the right time can make all the difference.
Visit the doctor. Why not start the new year with a check up? It feels great to hear someone tell you that you’re healthy and fit.
Put on your boots. When was the last time that you took a long, half or full day hike in the woods? August is the perfect time to get out there and have nature take your breath away.
Play with dirt. Dig something up, plant something new and get dirty. Whether it’s power washing something dirty or digging a ditch for better irrigation, there’s a magical element to getting dirty and then getting clean afterwards. Take all that your yard has to offer and get dirty.
Donate lavishly. Why not end summer with a final charitable gift? You could write a fat check or better yet, you could donate a generous amount of your time or expertise. Be on the lookout for someone who needs a hand.
Do a good deed and don’t look for credit. Whether it’s as small as leaving some change in the Dunkin Donuts tip-cup or mowing part of your neighbor’s lawn, good deeds build character and social currency.
Plan out your year. If you could accomplish two or three things by March of next year, what would you do, starting in September, that would get you there? Is there a habit that you could perfect or a tendency that you can overcome?
Go for a new look. If you’ve always wanted a perm or buzz cut but have been afraid to go for it, use August as your last window of opportunity. For guys, the only difference between a good haircut and a bad one is about three days.
Take a long weekend. Instead of a high-priced trip to someplace expensive, go for a long weekend to the beach or at a B&B. Sometimes a short weekend trip is as beneficial as the extended stay somewhere more expensive.
Take the “By Christmas” test. Take some time, when you can get alone and think. Then write down a short list of items that you’d like to accomplish by Christmas. There may be someone in your family that you want to reconnect with or an objective at work that you’d like to meet.
Take out the trash. This is especially important for those in high-delegation positions. I learned years ago that a leader or executive who is comfortable taking out the trash is probably humble enough to be an effective leader. Don’t’ do it for others to see you- do it to build humility and character.
Kill your subscriptions. What newsletters, magazines, papers can you eliminate this month? Since so much is available online, do you really need a hard copy of each of those subscriptions?
Weed out your RSS reader. If you are currently subscribed to 30 or more blogs and are having a hard time keeping up, pair it back to less than ten. It’s ok- give yourself permission to do it today.
Pray for five minutes every day. Nothing says priority like a person in prayer. Take the time to cultivate this important habit each day.
Write an old-fashioned letter. With so much junk mail, a real letter stands out above the crowd. Who will you reconnect with this month?
Retool your first and last hour of the day. These all-important hours set the tone and bring closure to the other 22 hours. Use them well and appreciate the difference it makes in your day.
Clear your conscience. Is there something on your mind that you know needs attention? Often conscience is that internal GPS, telling us to avoid the bad stuff and cling to the good.
Clean your air. Having air ducts cleaned out is a great way to ensure that your family’s air quality is up to par. You may be surprised at how much dust builds up over time in your house’s duct-work.
Get GLOCAL. If you’ve ever wanted to do something for someone around the world but didn’t know how, adopt the “glocal” mindset: do something locally for someone globally. You might enlist one or two friends to put together a care package for a soldier in the Middle East or write letters to victims of a natural disaster.
Organize your planner. Clear out the excess papers and receipts and streamline for the Fall months.
Do some list hygiene. If you have duplicate email and snail mail addresses in your GMAIL or YAHOO organizers, spend five minutes a day clearing out the junk.
Share your lists. Know someone who can benefit from one of your contacts? Go ahead and drop them a line with the person’s name or email, discussing how they might want to connect with one another.
Hone your habits. Which one habit, if done well and every day, could really benefit your life in a dramatic way?
Read LifeHack every day. Sorry, I just couldn’t resist!
Mike St. Pierre is the creator of The Daily Saint, a productivity blog focusing on work-life balance. www.thedailysaint.com