When you want to build better habits and become more productive, it helps to start small. If you try to initiate a giant change in your life, you may end up running out of the self-discipline and willpower to achieve your goal. Instead, it’s better to make small, almost imperceptible changes. Like invested money, these small adjustments will compound over time.

LaRae Quy, an author and former FBI agent, says the secret is starting so small that you don’t realize you’re doing anything different. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share Quy’s thoughts on a few small ways you can live better every day.

Work in 90-minute increments. Are you guilty of plowing through your workday without pausing to take enough breaks? Your efforts likely aren’t doing much for your productivity. Quy recommends working for 90 minutes and then taking a 20-minute break. That’s because the brain alternates between periods of high-frequency activity, which is about 90 minutes, and lower-frequency activity, which is about 20 minutes. If you push through for longer than 90 minutes, you will likely experience fatigue and an inability to concentrate.

Read more. Whether you reach for a book or a magazine, reading helps rewire how your brain works. Deep reading—when you settle in for a period of uninterrupted enjoyment—helps build up your ability to focus and grasp complicated and sophisticated ideas, says Quy.

Create a book-filled home. It’s easier to accomplish the step above when you have a variety of books at your fingertips. According to Quy, surrounding yourself with books helps you stay intellectually hungry and perpetually curious. If you want to live better, curate a personal library with interesting books.

Let the screens go dark at dinner. If you usually scroll your phone or watch TV while you eat, try turning everything off. This small action will help you become more mindful in the moment. You will be better able to enjoy the food or the company of those around you. Quy points out that attentive eating can also help you balance your food intake.

Exercise. Getting up and moving every day brings a host of health benefits. Quy notes that exercise increases your heart rate, which pumps more oxygen into the brain. This helps release hormones that allow for the growth of brain cells. You don’t have to run a 5K—just do something every day to move.

Balance on one leg. Another small way to improve your life is to work on your balance. Balance becomes increasingly important as we age, and it’s something that is easily overlooked until an accident or injury occurs. Quy recommends standing on one leg while you brush your teeth or wait in line. It doesn’t require a huge time commitment or much effort, but it can help you over time.

Spend a few quiet moments alone. Whether you spend time in prayer or meditation or simply deep breathing, the long-term benefits pay off. Quy points out a study that found long-term meditators had better-preserved brains than non-meditators as they aged. Slowing down for a few minutes also activates neural pathways to release feel-good hormones like melatonin, serotonin and oxytocin.

Instead of instituting sweeping overhauls in your life, try making small adjustments. These incremental changes, from adding a few new books to your shelf to working on your balance every day, will add up over time.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: LaRae Quy was an FBI undercover and counterintelligence agent for 24 years. She is the author of Secrets of a Strong Mind and Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths.

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