Making changes in life does not happen overnight. It takes time. We try to squeeze as much as is humanly possible in to one day and it affects our work-life balance, productivity, relationships – and just about everything else you can think of.

Most of us feel like we just don’t have the time to do the things that we want to. Our busy schedules take the driver’s seat while we just come along for the ride. But these four strategies take less than one minute but can really enrich and improve your quality of life.

1. Replace distracting apps with positive apps

Whether you’re absentmindedly looking for a distraction or proactively procrastinating, how often do you find yourself reaching for your phone throughout the day?

What if I told you that you were checking your phone 28 times every day and spending 44,000 hours of your life looking at your phone screen?

It’s quite a shocking statistic and for me, it really put things into perspective. A great way to make better use of your time and reduce the pull of our phones is to replace distracting apps with positive apps. Distracting apps might be Facebook or Whatsapp, whereas a positive behaviour app might include Headspace or Podcasts.

Move all your distracting apps into one folder. Don’t put this new folder on the first page of your home screen – you want it to be more difficult to access. For bonus points, put a positive behaviour app in the places where distracting apps used to be. Now, every time you check your phone in search of a distraction on Facebook, you will be reminded to read an article, take 10 mindful minutes or listen to a podcast.

2. Leave a book on your pillow

Every habit we have – good or bad – follows the 3 R Pattern.

  1. Reminder (the trigger)
  2. Routine (the behaviour)
  3. Reward (the benefit)

When it comes to making any new habit, making sure you have the right object in the right place at the right time can help you create new behavioural patterns so if you want to read before bed, make sure you leave a book on top of your pillow each day.

The same goes for other habits: going to the gym before work? Prepare your kit in the evening and leave your bag before the front door. Want to drink more water? Get a nice water bottle and keep it next to you.

It is important to set reminders for our new habits and the best ones are linked to habits we already have; things that we do without fail every day. For instance, flossing after brushing your teeth, mindfulness after morning shower, writing a gratitude list when you go to bed. It means we don’t need to rely on our motivation levels or memories to remind us.

3. Charge your phone in a different room

This life hack will take a matter of seconds but save you hours, whilst also improving your sleep, productivity, memory, problem-solving and metabolism. It has been proven that using our phones before bed or during the night is bad for our sleep hygiene because we are basically telling our brain not to go to sleep yet.

Removing the temptation means we can focus our energy on sleeping and can work on creating positive evening rituals which include positive behaviours such as reading, gratitude lists and meditating. You’ll wake up feeling more energised and ready to face the day.

4. Say no

In our busy lives, there are so many choices and only a finite amount of time to make the most of them. When we say “yes” to something often we need to be saying “no” to something else. The problem is we often just keep saying “yes” to everything and then lose our life balance. Honouring our time is a way of honouring our self. So is saying “no”.

We are so used to giving time to everyone else so we say “yes” to “have you got a minute?” when we haven’t even got a minute for themselves. It can have quite an impact once we start adding a few simple “not now” or “I haven’t” in response to those questions that aren’t a matter of life or death. Time is precious and worth valuing.