Get an Instant Mood Boost
By Rebecca Davis
Discover how your to-do list can really rev up your day.
Although you may never plow through all your daily chores and errands, completing any single task can give you a big lift. "Getting things done makes you feel like a winner," says Debby S. Bitticks, coauthor of Time Efficiency Makeover. Start small, and let the momentum from accomplishing a little thing motivate you to tackle a big one. You can start and finish these 37 satisfying tasks in a mere 5, 15, or 30 minutes. Do just one whenever you can spare or make the time, and watch how it helps you get the ball rolling.
When you have 5 minutes...
* Book that doctor's appointment you've been putting off forever.
* Write something down that you've already completed -- just so you can cross it out.
* Buff your nails.
* Tear up all those crumpled receipts in your wallet.
* Do the Pilates 100: Lie on your back, raise your legs until they're 45 degrees from the floor, then raise your head and neck to the same angle. While holding this position, keep your arms straight at your sides, palms down, and pump your arms up and down 100 times (inhale for five arm pumps and exhale for five arm pumps).
* Eat an apple (one fruit serving for today -- check!).
* Put an extra roll of toilet paper in the bathroom and another roll of paper towels in your kitchen.
* Make your bed.
* Windex your mirror and say, "Hello, gorgeous!"
* Write a check for the bill that's due next.
* Sign up to have your favorite newspaper's headlines and news briefs emailed to you daily.
* Polish your favorite black pumps with a baby wipe (this is safe for leather and patent leather, but not suede).
* Pluck your eyebrows.
* Call 888-5OPT-OUT to stop getting all those credit card solicitations in the mail.
* Add extra canned goods to your grocery list to donate to charity.
When you have 15 minutes...
* Clean out your little junk drawer, the one with all the dried-out pens, the collection of twist ties, etc.
* Apply a moisturizing mask. Try Skinvitals H-Revive ($9.99 for three; available at mass retailers).
* Empty all the garbage cans in your house and take out the trash.
* Iron your favorite shirt and pair of pants.
* Order a free copy of your credit report at annualcreditreport.com (here, you can order one free report per year from each of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion).
* Toss a bunch of ingredients in the slow-cooker -- then totally forget about them until dinnertime.
* Get a slow-cooker at cooking.com if you don't have one already.
* Do 15 sit-ups, 10 squats, 8 push-ups (girlie ones are fine) and then do slow, soothing stretches for the next five minutes.
* Find out the hours of your local food bank or homeless shelter and get directions to their food-donation drop-off.
When you have 30 minutes...
* Call that great-aunt of yours in Florida -- you know, the one you've been meaning to phone for the past three months (and feel guilty for neglecting).
* Surf the Web to gather ideas for your next vacation.
* Read one chapter of a good book.
* Pick out your outfits for the coming week, including accessories -- you can even create some new shoe-and-bag combinations.
* Buy birthday cards for all the friends and family members who turn one year older this month.
* Vacuum up the dog or cat hair on your sofa. Then buy a book about how to get your pet to stay off the furniture.
* Turn off your cell phone, close your e-mail, and enjoy 30 minutes of quiet.
* Plan a special meal for your next date night in. Check out foodtv.com or REDBOOK's recipe finder for new dishes to really spice things up.
* Write (yes, by hand) a letter to a friend who lives far away.
* Give yourself a pedicure.
* Update your framed pictures; replace a few older photos with snapshots of newer memories you want to enjoy every day.
* Comparison shop for your next big-ticket purchase. Check out shopzilla.com for prices at stores (including JC Penney, Neiman Marcus, and Best Buy) on everything from suits to stereos.
* Bring extra canned goods to your local food bank or homeless shelter. Delight in how good it feels to give.