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Change Your Life in Seven Minutes

Try these micro-actions--they're small activities that can have a significant impact.

Allyson Lewis, 08/20/2009

Micro-actions are tiny changes and activities that anyone can choose to implement in their daily lives. Often the biggest, most meaningful differences in our lives are really just a series of small insignificant changes. We call these small activities micro-actions, and even more importantly we believe there are literally hundreds of these tiny ideas or micro-actions that you can complete in as little as seven minutes.

Research has shown that the average person has an attention span of seven minutes. If this is true, then how can you work within the limitations of your personal attention span to make the time you spend working as productive as possible? You can work on focusing your attention on implementing some seven-minute micro-actions into your daily work habits.

Seven-Minute Micro-Action Ideas for Work
1. Create your '5 before 11(TM)' list.
Just before you leave your office for the day, take out your daily planner and create a list of five high-value tasks you will commit to accomplishing before 11 o'clock the next morning--we call this concept completing your 5 before 11(TM) list.

2. Write down your top three work goals.
You must regularly write down your goals. The more clearly you can define exactly what you would like to accomplish, the more likely you are to reach your written goals. Write your goals in present tense as though they are occurring and always include several specific action steps to achieve your goals.

3. Make a list of three prospects and look up their telephone numbers.
In order to grow your business, you know you need to regularly ask qualified people to do business with you. Take a few minutes to make a list of three prospects and list their contact numbers beside their names. As you build this list of what we call Seven Minute Life Connections, you will find that having the list makes it much easier to actually call them.

4. Mail two handwritten thank-you notes each day.
It takes longer to write the address on an envelope than it does to write a two- to three-sentence handwritten thank-you note. Make it a daily habit to send two notes per day to your clients, vendors, family, and friends. You will be amazed at the power of a personal letter.

5. Set up a conference call with a mentor.
In every industry there are superstars; they are men and women who have somehow discovered the secret to overwhelming success. Most of these people are very generous with their time. Call and ask if you can have a 30-minute conference call to learn from their success.

6. Design an annual projects and tasks calendar.
Whenever possible, work to create repeatable processes and systems. Take seven minutes to design an annual projects and tasks calendar that lists your client appreciation events, your major marketing campaigns, and the conferences you will attend.

7. Pick up the phone.
Every time you have a few minutes, pick up the phone and call a client. Think back to the activities that originally made you successful and being on the phone will likely be near the top of your list. Clients want to proactively hear from you with ideas and advice.

Seven-Minute Micro-Action Ideas for Life
1. Decide to go to bed on time.
Common sense tells you that the average adult needs eight hours of sleep per night. While each person may need more or less sleep, many people are not getting enough rest, which makes them less productive at work and in life. It takes only seconds to decide to go to bed on time.

2. Drink a glass of water.
Staying properly hydrated is vitally important to your overall well-being. One of the simplest micro-actions is making sure you drink enough water each day.

3. Eat a piece of fruit.
There is no magic to these ideas; they are easy to do. The next time you are at the grocery store, add a few bananas, apples, or oranges to your cart.

4. Take a walk.
This is one micro-action that can't completely be done in seven minutes. Most experts agree that you need 30 minutes of walking per day to stay healthy. However, they also agree that you can walk 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at night for a similar benefit.

5. Make a list of the next few books you want to read.
If you want to be different tomorrow than you are today, choose to become a reader. Take seven minutes and make a list of books that can make your life better. I recommend:

Endurance by Alfred Lansing
Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell
Getting Things Done by David Allen
The Richest Man in Babylon by George Clason
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
The Go-Giver by Mann and Burg

For a more complete list of reading recommendations, click here.

6. Get a library card and pick up a book.
Your public library is an amazing place to enrich your life. It is a wonderful way to spend a Saturday afternoon and the library is great for your whole family. If you are not currently a reader, you can request most books in audio format.

7. Clean out your car.
After a day at work, it feels so good to climb into a clean car. Take a few minutes to throw away all of the trash, move any items you have been transporting in your car to a more appropriate location, and vacuum out the carpets. 

When you commit to adding some of these seven-minute micro-actions into your daily work plan, you are setting yourself up to achieve more of the daily wins that make your work more meaningful and fulfilling. The idea of knowing that you can successfully accomplish a series of small steps that are consistently moving you closer to accomplishing your longer-term goals is a powerful motivator.

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