Whether its science-backed strategies or feel-good platitudes, we all need some extra motivation when it comes to our New Year’s resolutions.
To get you closer to your goals this year, we combed through popular Reddit and Quora threads to create this list of hacks that people swear by, along with a few of our own.
From life-changing habits to simple tricks for your iPhone, here are 20 tips that could help you improve and transform your life in 2018.
Complete your hardest task first.
Procrastination is a hard habit to kick, but learning how to “front-load your pain,” as Reddit user ParallaxBrew puts it, can be a great place to start: “That thing you feel crappy about? That thing you’re dreading? That is exactly the thing you need to do […] You know you’re going to end up feeling like s— if you procrastinate anyway […] [so] you might as well take the action that will improve your life.”
As Reddit user RevMen suggests, “practice choosing discomfort” whenever you’re faced with a daunting task or tough decision, and it’ll become easier over time.
If you’re about to buy something you don’t need, imagine the item in one hand and the money you would spend in the other.
This visualization exercise by Reddit user Willwait can help you figure out which one you’d rather have — the item or the cash — and cut down on impulse purchases. You can also try converting the item’s cost into its value in time, according to Reddit user VerifiedMadgod. Just calculate how many hours you’d have to work in order to buy that item, and consider whether it’s worth that amount of time.
Before you book an international flight, double-check your passport’s expiration date.
If you’ve never traveled overseas, you may not know about certain passport validity rules. For example, some countries require that your passport is valid for six months after your intended return date. Some countries also do not accept emergency passports. To make sure you don’t lose a ton of money on flights, learn more about your destination, including passport validity requirements, on the US Department of State website.
To expedite the passport renewal process, you may also want to check out ItsEasy, an app that lets you get a new passport or visa without ever leaving your home.
Set up this emergency feature on your iPhone — even if you think you’ll never use it.
Apple added “Emergency SOS” to iOS 11 in September. The feature lets you quickly and discreetly call 911 by rapidly pressing your iPhone’s Sleep/Wake button five times.
To set it up, head to Settings > Emergency SOS on your iPhone. Tap the toggle labeled “Auto Call” to enable the feature. You can also tap the toggle labeled “Countdown Sound” to hear a warning alarm in case you ever accidentally trigger a call to emergency services.
If you’re trying to eat healthier, try this simple trick.
“Bring a healthy snack to work,” Reddit user jumamillion suggests. “If you’re looking for a snack but don’t feel like eating the one you brought, you’re not hungry, you’re bored.” You might also just be thirsty, in which case you can try drinking a cup of water and waiting five minutes to see if you still want a snack.
That said, healthy eating plans are not a one-size-fits-all solution. Studies suggest that the most important factor to look for in a diet is a routine you can actually enjoy and maintain. That means you may need to try a few different eating plans before you find one that works for you.
Instead of restrictive dieting, try “Intuitive Eating” (IE).
As INSIDER’s Caroline Praderio wrote in September, IE is a “radical, non-diet approach to food.” Its basic premise is to eat whatever you feel like eating, “with zero guilt” — as long as you pay attention to how your body feels after eating certain foods and use that information to inform your future decisions. Emerging research shows that IE can help “promote health, improve body image, and fight back against disordered eating.”
Unsend emails on Gmail.
Here’s a thorough explainer on how to set this up.
Turn comparison inward.
Instead of comparing yourself to others, Reddit user Henniferlopez87 suggests, compare yourself to where you were one or two years ago: “Whether it’s fitness or finance, use that as motivation for your own goals.”
“It’s not about making a comparison and always feeling good,” Reddit user StoppedLurking_ZoeQ clarifies. “It’s more a tool that you use throughout your life which is much better than looking at successful happy people and comparing yourself to them.”
Immediately do any task that could be completed in one minute.
This “one-minute rule” can help you become more productive, author Gretchen Rubin told Business Insider. She explained: “Accomplishing all those small, nagging tasks makes us feel both calmer and more energetic because we’re not dragged down by the accumulated weight of a mass of tiny, insignificant tasks.”
Trying to wake up earlier? Do something you enjoy when you first wake up.
Whether its watching an episode of your favorite TV show or whipping together a delicious breakfast, this tip can help you develop a habit of waking up early, Reddit user tlst9999 suggests.
Try this classic productivity hack.
Created by Italian entrepreneur Francesco Cirillo, the Pomodoro technique is a time-management strategy designed to help increase your productivity. The method, which has drawn a huge following since the early ’90s, is based on the premise that you work more efficiently when your time is broken down into intervals of “intense, distraction-free work” followed by short breaks.
Or use a free app to help you stay focused.
Start everything by asking yourself, “Why?”
Quora user Charles Faraone suggests asking yourself “Why?” before making any decision that could affect your life, health, and happiness. “Ask yourself why you’re eating foods that might not be healthy for you,” Faraone writes. “Why you’re doing things the way you’re doing them. Why you’re avoiding doing what you know you should be doing. It’s an amazingly simple approach with huge potential payoffs.”
If you don’t work out at all, start with an easy routine that takes five minutes or less.
As Reddit user nonosnusnu puts it: “There is a visible difference between not working out at all and doing 15 push-ups every day. Make 15 push-ups your new ‘not working out’ […] Don’t think working out only works if you spend 3 days a week in the gym. There is a wide gap between not working out at all and doing 5-10 minutes every day. You can see that difference and you can feel it.”
Write down three things you’re grateful for every morning.
This habit can help make you more relaxed, healthy, and happy, Reddit user HaveAGrandDay says. In fact, research has shown that the practice of gratitude can change your brain for the better, increase your goodwill toward others, help reduce depression, and more.
Put a quarter in a cup of frozen water during natural disasters and emergencies.
Put aside an “emergency fund.”
Take five minutes out of your day to meditate.
Just sitting for a few minutes every day, focusing on your breathing, and drawing your attention to the present can dramatically improve your life. It sounds too good to be true, but research has shown that meditation can help reduce stress and negative emotions, improve your memory and emotional control, and literally change your brain for the better.
Use these tips to find a lost dog.
Reddit user a_little_pixie once ran into a group of hunters who shared the following advice for finding a lost dog. First, if you’re the dog’s owner, take an article of clothing you’ve worn “at least all day, the longer the better,” and place it where you last saw your dog. Research has shown that dogs have a powerful sense of smell that allows them to detect “minute odor discriminations.”
You should also bring a crate, a familiar toy, and a bowl of water, along with a note asking people not to move the items. But make sure you don’t bring food — this could attract other animals your dog might avoid. After that, check this location intermittently; hopefully, your dog will come back and be waiting there.
Set up airfare alerts for every flight you want to take.
From KAYAK to Hopper, most flight deal services now let you create custom notifications for price drops. If you’re not already doing so, you could be missing out on a ton of savings. To learn more, check out this handy guide on airfare alerts here.