Getting in shape and leveling up your life can be a daunting task.
Like Frodo setting out from the Shire and walking to Mordor, the end of this journey might seem like something that is years and years away.
However, just like Frodo, we have seen time and time again that the most important thing to do is GET STARTED. Every tiny decision adds up, and these tiny decisions put together can build some serious progress towards reaching your goal.
Around these parts, we like to call this the Optimus Prime Strategy: He transforms from a mac truck into a giant ass kicking robot…not with one movement, but rather hundreds and hundreds of tiny steps.
So, how do we get started? And, once we’re started, and things get tough, how can we keep that momentum going?
Here are 10 of my favorite ways to level up life in 5 minutes or less, because sometimes five minutes is enough to start building momentum.
1) Complete a 5-minute workout.
Only 5 minutes? Who cares! Every decision adds up, right? Plus, it’s not just about the workout; completing a five-minute workout will have your brain thinking “I am exercising, I need to eat healthy or I’m wasting my time.”
So here it is, the five minute workout:
- Minute #1: 20 seconds of push ups, 10 seconds of rest, 20 seconds of push ups, 10 seconds of rest.
- Minute #2: 20 seconds of squats, 10 seconds of rest, 20 seconds of squats, 10 seconds of rest.
- Minute #3: Plank for as long as you, then rest until end of minute.
- Minute #4: 20 seconds of push ups, 10 seconds of rest, 20 seconds of push ups, 10 seconds of rest. (unless you have access to pull up bar, then do pull ups)
- Minute #5: 20 seconds of lunges, 10 seconds of rest, 20 seconds of lunges, 10 seconds of rest.
2) Perform a house cleaning in your kitchen.
If I am within 25 meters of certain foods (Goldfish crackers, Sour Patch kids, Animal crackers, Coca-cola, peanut M&Ms), it is impossible for me to stop eating them. They take over my brain until all of them are consumed.
So, I do not keep these things in my apartment.
Spend five minutes right now, and throw away the junk food in your house. Right in the trash. And then take the trash out. It’s much tougher to be tempted by something that doesn’t exist…or something that’s covered in garbage 🙂
3) Meditate for two minutes.
Our brains are so overrun with stimuli these days, with dozens of things vying for our attention: Facebook, email, TV, children, friends, our phones, and more. There is always something to do, or something that didn’t get done, or something that will need to get done.
We never stop and realize that, as my friends Gaelic Storm say: “one more day above the roses” is a pretty good day. I use the app Calm, put my phone on Do Not Disturb, and go through a 2-minute guided meditation.
Here’s a great guide to Meditation for Beginners from Leo of Zen Habits.
4) Work on handstands.
I have spent the better part of the past two years working on handstand balancing, and only in the past few months have I made significant strides.
How did I do it?
By practicing for just five minutes. Every. Day.
Handstands build concentration, strength, muscular endurance, and balance…they also make you feel like a badass and they’re a really cool party trick.
What’s that? You can’t do a handstand yet or are worried you need to drop a few pounds first? Read our beginner’s guide to handstands so you can get started TODAY.
5) Do a mobility routine.
If you spend all day sitting at your desk (although I love standing desks, I need to sit for creative writing), your hip flexors, back, and shoulders are probably all tensed up and tight.
I do a routine similar to the one listed below each morning when I wake up and once or twice throughout the day to stay limber:
- Neck, shoulder, and arm circles
- Hip circles
- Fence steppers
- Foward leg swings
- Side leg swings
- Bodyweight squats – deep
- Lunges, hold at bottom.
- The thoracic bridge
6) Rearrange your bat cave.
We are creatures of habit, so if we want to enact change in our lives, we need to make it EASIER to build new habits and TOUGHER to do the things we’re trying to stop.
How do we do that?
By decreasing the number of steps between us and new good habit, and increasing number of steps between us and bad habit.
- Want to exercise more? Sleep in your workout clothes. Pack your gym bag BEFORE going to bed.
- Want to play more guitar? Put it in the middle of your living room.
- Want to watch less TV? Call and cancel your cable (I just did!) or unplug your TV so that you have to get up and plug it in each time you want to watch it.
- Want to floss more? Unwind some floss and put it on the counter next to the sink, and only floss 1 tooth. That’s it.
Check out more on building your batcave.
7 ) Stop being a prisoner to your email inbox.
We spend way too much time on the unimportant, keeping us from doing things like exercising, going home to our family, playing more video games, etc. I’m going to assume you use Gmail, because you’re reading Nerd Fitness, so here’s how to revolutionize your email in 5 minutes:
- First of all, don’t keep an email tab open! Commit to only opening it every hour to start. Eventually, the goal is to only open it 2-3 times per day.
- Create Gmail folders called “action” and “non-essential.” Use them.
- For every “newsletter” email that comes in, create a filter to auto-send it non-essential or unsubscribe from the damn thing.
- For every email from a co-worker, friend, or family member, answer it immediately, or quickly send it to the “Action” folder to deal with later.
- Turn on the “send and archive” feature in settings.
This system allows you to get your inbox to zero each and every time you complete it. The “archive” feature means every email is filed but not deleted. Never read an email more than twice. Read it and quickly respond, or quickly send it to “Action” and then crush the action folder when you have time to deal with it.
Just don’t leave the tab open. And please God, turn off all notifications for email and social media on your phone/computer. These, and other productivity tips can save your sanity.
8) Email Your yoda.
Email your Yoda: somebody on the NF message boards or in your life that has found a way to succeed. And not just successful people. But somebody that has succeeded in the way YOU’RE trying to succeed.
Don’t try to email Hugh Jackman because you want to look like Wolverine (celebrities operate on a different playing field), but I bet emailing Saint because you can relate to his “before” situation (maybe you’re also getting married soon) is a winning proposition.
A few months back, I reached out to my buddy Anthony, and let him know that I admired his training philosophy. Anthony and I are now working together to help me level up my routine (which included this 61 day challenge)
9) hack your happiness
Believe it or not, happiness is something you can hack. Here are a few sure fire ways to improve your mood today (thanks Eric!):
1) Take five minutes and write down three things that happened to you today and why they went well. Studies have shown that building the habit of writing down the things that you are grateful for will have a positive impact on your life.
2) Perform a random act of kindness. Pay for the next person’s drink at the coffee shop. Give money to a homeless person.
3) Email a friend and tell them why you’re glad that you’re friends. This will improve your relationship. And make YOU happier in turn.
4) Call a loved one and tell them you love them. I’m gonna call my mom today and tell her I love her, and because it’s its her birthday (hey ma!).
The fastest way to boost your happiness is to do something nice or kind for somebody else. This will take you LESS than five minutes.
10) shut up, and do it now!
You know that one thing you’ve been putting off? Maybe it’s your taxes, or doing the dishes, or signing up for that thing. Or maybe it’s exercising.
I don’t care how daunting the task may be. You’re going to tell yourself that you are going to spend just five minutes working on that task. Just FIVE minutes. Feel free to complain as loudly as you want, but ONLY if you are already working on the task.
- Need to pump yourself up first? Use the Braveheart Technique.
- Terrified to get started? Try activating Beast Mode.
More often than not, the first five minutes are the toughest, and once you get past five minutes, you’ll find that CONTINUING to work on the thing is easy. Or maybe you stop after five minutes. You’re at least five minutes closer than you were before!
But stop delaying. Do it now.
Every Little Bit
Remember: every little win counts. And small things result gargantuan changes (which I learned from Prometheus) when completed with enough consistency.
These are ten of my favorite things that help me level up MY life. I’d love to hear from you. It’s been a while, so I figure let’s give away a free Nerd Fitness shirt!
Leave a comment with your favorite 5-minute life hack to level up before 11:59 on April 13th and we’ll pick a random winner to get one of our shirts. Hooray free stuff!
So, how can you level up or make a positive change to your life in five minutes?
This week’s Rebel Hero: NF Rebel Dani at Crossfit Hell’s Kitchen, where she trained with Olympic lifter Holley Mangold! How freaking cool is that? Fantastic work Dani, way to represent the Rebellion!
PS: We have some REALLY fun announcements coming for Camp Nerd Fitness on Monday, which is already 1/3rd sold out and still five months away!