If You Can’t Accomplish Anything Else Today, Do These 10 Things

Bestselling author Gretchen Rubin on creating your own personal happiness

We’ve all had days where it seems as though nothing gets done. For those times when I seem to be spinning my wheels, I keep a list of things that I can do every day, even when I have no extra time, money, or energy to spare. I sometimes forget to write in my one-sentence journal and I don’t always make it to the gym, but I do try to make sure I hit all these items.

That way, even if I feel like I had a day when I got nothing accomplished, I can comfort myself, as I climb into my smooth, tidy bed, “Well, at least I went for a walk. I ate an apple. I hugged my daughters.”

Every day, I…

1. Make my bed.

2. Wear sunscreen (well, most days).

3. Wear my seat belt.

4. Jump up and down a few times.

5. Pick up one object that’s in the wrong place and put it away.

6. Go for a ten-minute walk outside.

7. Eat a fruit or vegetable.

8. Put my keys away in the same place.

9. Touch everyone in my apartment with affection.

10. Pause to enjoy a lovely smell.

Bonus: 11. Go to sleep as soon as I’m sleepy, if I possibly can.

How about you? Are there things that you try to do every day, even when it seems impossible to get anything done?

Gretchen Rubin is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Happiness Project. Each Wednesday is tip day on her blog.

3 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Linda Myers says:

    When I have a lot to think about during the day, I end up with a REALLY clean house! Zooming through my short list and just keep going until I clear some thoughts.

  2. avatar Steve_of_SP says:

    Wow. Already accomplished everything but 4 & 7. And it’s only 9:00 am.

    Nice short list. Thank you,


  3. avatar Joan Larsen says:

    Every morning I .  .

    have set my alarm for 15 minutes before I have to get up so I can wake up slowly, snuggle for a few minutes under my luxurious summer comforter that always makes me feel like a queen.  This sets my early morning up very well.

    In my bathroom, I usually have a Sinatra song playing – perhaps “You make me feel so young” – that is upbeat and a good start of the day.  Always – always – I lather my neck especially with something called Silk and Shea Butter Body Lotion that I mail order from Hannah’s Botanicals because — well, even a whiff is so dreamy and gives me a wonderful feeling.  Only takes half a minute and the fragrance lasts so long.

    If I am off to the city, I have my clothes and especially jewelry (!) set out the night before as that time element drops in no matter how hard I try. 

    At Fresh Foods, I am always stocked up on 6 fresh fruits at least — and the one thing my husband loves to do is put together the magazine cover look of fresh designs of cut up fruit each morning.  With coffee to kill for all ready . .  I am ready either for leisure or for a rush.
    But I have begun the day right — and I find that meals looking beautiful (even if small) lift my sprits up sky high.

    Did I say that there is never a time that warm hugs — and they can take a minute if needed — say that both of us are loved.  We are usually laughing when that hug is over — which again
    is another lift for the day’s beginning. 

    He may do the hour walk these days.  I do the 2-day weekend walk through a series of adjoining park paths that are filled with nature and the surprise of small animals and birds that change with the seasons.  There is a serenity there. 

    An hour on the train allows me time to read the latest books – my treat to myself – and hopefully, helps make me an interesting conversationist when enjoying a group dinner out on the weekends.  (Let’s just say that I try to hold my own!)

    I think when we are doing things that are tried-and-true ways to really feel good about ourselves, we handle the surprise elements of the day with greater ease.  It is the feeling that “we can handle it” — and it happens to be a mental process that works wonderfully well for me.

    Anything that we love and can quickly do that fits into our own definition of “the good life” makes us know we are on the path to contentment.  I’ll just saw that it works for me !!!