post written by: Marc Chernoff

30 Life-Enhancing Things You Can Do in 30 Minutes or Less


30 Life Enhancing Things in 30 Minutes

Many of us attempt to measure our happiness based on the duration of certain favorable experiences in our lives.  The longer a favorable experience lasts, the happier we think we’ll be.  But the truth is, life is simply a string of small, independent moments that are always changing.  Thus, a few minutes well spent here and there can make a big difference in what we get out of life in the long-term.

Here are 30 things you can do in 30 minutes or less that will have a positive emotional effect on you and those closest to you.  And yes, I realize some of these suggestions may lead to activities and projects that will likely take longer than 30 minutes to complete; but they still take far less than 30 minutes to start.  So go ahead and do the hardest part, use the next 30 minutes to START, and then pick up where you left off tomorrow.

  1. Learn something new by starting a free course at one of the hundreds of online self-education resources bookmarked here: 12 Dozen Places To Educate Yourself Online For Free.
  2. Watch one of the thousands of educational videos streaming at TED.com, Academic Earth, or Khan Academy.
  3. Read an online book list and find a new book to grab next time you’re at the library.  Here’s another list.  And another.  And another.  And another.  Or find a good read on Amazon’s Best Sellers List.
  4. Start reading a classic book online for free at Project Gutenberg, The Online Books Page, Gizmo’s Free Books Online, or the E-books Directory.
  5. Take a 30 minute break and work on something that’s meaningful to you.  Engage yourself in a meaningful personal project, or pull the trigger on starting something you’ve wanted to do for a long time, but haven’t yet had the resolve to do.
  6. Research a new Do It Yourself project at DIY Network, Instructables, or DoItYourself.com.
  7. Add to, delete from, or just generally sort your ongoing to-do list at Remember The Milk, Ta-Da List, or using Google Tasks.  With a few minutes of organizing your time and to-do’s, you will be better prepared to take on the day.
  8. Create a cool graphical mind map of some of your recent ideas at bubbl.us, Mindomo, or Mindmeister.
  9. Email a close friend or family member you haven’t spoken to in awhile and reconnect with them.
  10. Spend time with, or talk with, someone who makes you smile.  Who nourishes and supports your happiness?  Take a few minutes and visit them if they’re nearby, or call them on the phone.
  11. Share your favorite digital photos, videos, etc. with friends and family, and back-up your important files (you’ll be happy you did someday), using Dropbox.
  12. In our ever-expanding digital world, everyone enjoys getting some ‘real’ mail.  So take a few minutes and send a paper greeting card directly to a friend or relative by using enGreet or American Greetings.
  13. Challenge your mind and your perspective by answering these thought provoking questions.  Here’s another list of questions.  And another.  Also check out Thought Questions for a daily dose of even more thought provoking questions.
  14. Start learning a new language online for free at BBC Languages or Livemocha, or one of the other free online language resources outlined here.
  15. Watch one of the insightful, inspiring five minute presentations at Ignite Show.
  16. Give out compliments.  Give sincere praise every chance you get.  Compliment and cheer for those who deserve it.  You’ll be hitting two birds with one stone, because when the person you compliment smiles, you’ll smile too.
  17. Use Memorize Now or iMemorize to memorize a cool joke, inspiring quote, etc.
  18. Listen to an educational podcast via iTunes on iTunes U.
  19. Inspire and spark your creative mind by looking at a rolling slideshow of the highest rated photos on Flickr from the past 7 days.
  20. Take a fun, educational online quiz at Quizlet, or play an educational online game at Lumosity, Sporcle, Games for the Brain, or Math Run.
  21. Add the gentle sound of rain to your environment using RainyMood.com and then simply meditate and relax for a few minutes.
  22. Keep track of the things you’re grateful for.  You can’t help but feel good when you literally count your blessings.  Start a gratitude journal and express your thanks on a daily basis.
  23. Sell something you no longer need on eBay and make a little extra cash.
  24. Support a good cause for free at Freerice.com or donate a few bucks to a good cause via GoFundMe.
  25. Play with a child.  Admire their enthusiasm.  Watch how they interact, how they dream, how they ask questions, etc.  Most kids have short attention spans; a few minutes of quality time from a loving adult can make their day, and it will also help you stay in touch with your inner child.
  26. Listen to good music, or find a new musical artist to listen to based on music you like at Grooveshark, Pandora, Spotify, last.fm, or Deezer (international).
  27. Get your body moving and your blood circulating.  Jump, shake, twist and spin around.  Let yourself feel the joy of moving to your favorite music, or just the sounds in your head.  Run, walk, and bike to your heart’s content.
  28. Watch and re-watch Steve Jobs’ 2005 commencement speech and this ten minute recap of Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture.
  29. Spend a few minutes watching the sunset with someone you care about.  Nothing more is needed.  Just sit still and take in the natural beauty of the sky, and appreciate being able to share it with someone special.
  30. Stop to help someone.  In life, you get what you put in.  When you make a positive impact in someone else’s life, you also make a positive impact in your own life.  So the next time you see someone pulled over with a flat tire, or in need of a few minutes of assistance, stop and ask how you can help.

What simple life-enhancing activities do you participate in on a regular basis?  Please share your ideas with us in the comments section below.

Photo by: Rachel Sian

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51 Comments

  • Fantastic! Such simple, practical ideas! I’m bookmarking this for later. Thank you.

  • Once again, you share fantastic ideas that help us and others. I seriously love this post. Thanks for putting it together.

  • Great list of ideas. I had completely forgotten about Free Rice! I didn’t know it was still around. Cool, cool!

  • As always - very simple and true! Great ideas for productively spending 30 minutes.

  • Perfect list! Watching the sunrise and sunset with your loved one is soooo sweet! For me, I like to look at my little plants and see whether they grow bigger than yesterday - observing the beauty of nature and life.

  • Love this! You both always lift my spirits and give me positive, productive ideas.. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • This list is fantastic! Suggestion - perhaps lists like this can be done in a more gradual method - maybe releasing a few ideas that we can apply each day? But either way, thank you.

  • Wonderful ideas! I particularly encourage supporting Freerice… It’s fun, it’s educational, and most importantly, it is for a worthy cause. You definitely won’t regret it.

  • Dear Marc, I am so happy that you compiled this list, which should have been on my list all along. I have come across some of those sites, the most recent being the Khan Academy, which blew me away. And, whenever I have come across a site that I love, the self-talk is: “you better bookmark this..” or I write it down on a piece of paper that goes promptly into the abyss I call a purse, to wallow around until it hits the bottom and is never seen again.So this 66 year old woman, wife, and grandmother thanks you from the bottom of my heart. I am an artist, but mostly a grandmother. I also have a blog you might enjoy: catherine-startingoveragain.blogspot.com/

    Thanks again Marc for your work, and of course, to Angel. Kind regards, Catherine

  • Such a practical, fun post that can be re-visited often. I am so grateful for having found your blog site!

  • You guys are brilliant, always motivational and wise. You must have lived many lives to have so much wisdom. I’m so grateful you share with us. Wendy x

  • Volunteer 30 minutes to walk dogs at your local shelter. You get some exercise and do a whole lot of good for a grateful animal and the grateful staff.

  • #31. Forward Marc and Angel’s articles to your friends!

  • Another fabulous post and one for bookmarking - there are so many valuable links here. Thanks for compiling and for generally being pretty incredible.

  • Love the list. After watching some of the Flickr pictures I feel more relaxed and enjoy stopping to enjoy the world and what surrounds me daily. We forget to see the beauty in our world.

    A simple life-enhancing activities I like is to take a child to a park and swing with them or go down the slide. There eye’s light up to see you have fun doing this with them.

    Thanks again for slowing us down to enjoy life! That is what life is about.
    Blessings to you both,
    Debbie

  • This is an awesome blog post! :) Such useful ideas and links.

  • Great list! I’m going to play around with #8 today (thanks for the inspiration).

  • And I would also add (should this list go to 31 and you were soliciting suggestions):
    Make something! Making something with your own hands is an easy way to boost your ego.

  • This is a fantastic post with truly original ideas. I’m so glad that you put it together. I have been traveling around the world for several months and one thing I cannot wait to bring home is ‘Help a Foreigner.’ In many cities I’ve visited, people have dropped everything to ask if I need any information or directions, often without my asking for help or even thinking I looked confused. On multiple occasions, people have walked me where I needed to go even though it took them in the opposite direction of where they had been heading. Often, these bits of assistance have led to fantastic conversations with interesting people and an insight into the culture of where I am. I cannot wait to return these favors of kindness back in the U.S. I’m so looking forward to meeting those people that visit my city and learning more about their stories.

  • Excellent as always! So many great reminders of many great ideas! What simple life-enhancing activities do ~I~ participate in on a regular basis? Writing poems for people I care about, and sharing them with them.

    Reading Marc and Angel Hack Life
    Inspiring others without drum or fife
    Fresh ideas and words of wisdom
    Delivered with their basic system
    Rousing spirits, taking heart
    Listing actions to make a start
    Sharing links and food for thought
    Widely appreciated, it’s not for naught

    Thank you, M & A!

  • Fantabulous ideas once again. I like reading the classical books, those are so much fun! Glad you mentioned that bit in this post.

  • I didn’t actually count the possibilities, but there’s enough things on that list to do to keep a person busy for a few years! Great list!

  • I am glad - I actually already follow some of these sites and tips religiously :)

    Thanks for giving me more ideas to make my life BETTER!

  • This is a wonderful list! I love you guys! I look forward to reading these all the time. Thanks = )

  • Wonderful ideas… Free ideas that work miracles! I’m loving these post!

  • Good list as always. I like to take my camera for a walk and try to capture something I see in an original way.

  • Very positive post, as always! Appreciate all that we have, and use the resources we have to enhance our life. That’s what I got from this post.

  • I just want to say Thank You for this great site. I have been going through a very difficult life change and your inspirational thoughts, quotes, and absolute candor have literally been a God-send.

  • Practical ideas, practical blog. Thanks.

  • Thanks for the comments everyone. I’m happy so many of you found this list useful and inspiring. I actually just used one of the above book lists to pick out a new novel to read. :) On my way to the library now…

  • fantastic! XO you guys, so inspirational.

  • What a great post. I so love lists that help me organize, inspire, and appreciate life! Thanks!!

  • Again, such wonderful, simple ideas to think about! every since finding this website on stumbleupon, I find that this is the kind of stuff I needed to see and hear to give me that little extra bit of motivation to go out & do great things, & be a better me. I love reading your posts first thing in the morning - great way to start off the day!

  • Wow wow wow. I love your blog so so so very much. I appreciate you guys. Much of what you share is simply awesome!

  • Marc and Angel, thank you again.

  • For point 26, I’d like to add another music website that I always spend most of my time there — 8tracks.com

  • What a great list! I’m listening to the rain right now and watching the Flickr slideshow. I’m instantly inspired and more relaxed. Thanks!

  • Hi, there. I linked to this site from your Facebook page. Such useful advice! Thanks so much. I’m going to save this to my favorites! :)

  • A very practical list of activities.

  • Great! I recently discovered you guys, but I am a fan already. Your articles are such a great blend of practicality and inspiration. While I was reading the list, I was thinking ‘Oh Yes!’. It’s funny how one day we remember to ‘count our blessings’, but another time we completely forget about that; one day we open our hearts to helping others, while another we feel quite selfish and wound up in our own illusionary problems. That’s why this list is worth bookmarking to constantly remind ourselves! Thanks again :)

  • Samir Bhatnagar
    August 9th, 2012 at 8:20 am

    Simply wonderful.. Thanks!!

  • You guys are awesome. I suffer from depression and am in therapy, but your posts are like an addition to therapy.They have given me so much encouragement and helped me to persevere. They help me to see myself as a work in progress with great things ahead. Thanks so much. You don’t know how much this means to me. Anytime I need a pick me up,I can just go to your sight. You guys are just great.

  • Marc I like to share thoughts but I admire the level of your commitment in making a positive impact. Let you know that in Mexico you are already helping me and my parents regain focus in important things in life. As a way of thanks, we will continue with others what you started.

  • Very practical.
    I have read so many of your posts, and re-read them at times too. And each time it’s like am reading them for the first time. Thanks for being such an inspiration in my life.
    Hadijah.

  • Thanks for all the inspiring posts - they come into my computer at just the right moment - so timely for my needs… always helpful and giving me a little push into life and what it can offer… great reminders. Thank you!

  • I LOVE THIS SITE. I wish I could write it on every post but I cannot so instead just 1 in capital letters. Thank you so much for regularly pulling me out of my own small drama’s and brain fogging day to day tasks. I used this post as a reward for studying for exams all day today, please keep it up, thank you!

  • I just came across your site while I was doing some research for a project. I am simply amazed at the amount of WISE information your site contains. I almost spent the entire afternoon reading your articles. Very informative. I like the idea of putting positive thoughts as a priority. Thanks.

  • I can’t thank you enough. Although I’ve done many of these but, the links are wonderful and very inspiring. :) Loads of luv.

  • There is an online gratitude journal I use called “Happy Rambles.” They send you an email every night and you record 3-5 things you are grateful for. You can then go back to the web site and review your journal whenever you want.

  • These questions are very thought-provoking and timely. In today’s times we rarely pause and smell the flowers. We are so caught up doing so many useless things.

  • I just put one of your tips into action (”Take a 30 minute break and work on something that’s meaningful to you.”).

    I wrote another 500 words for my book, Productivity Essentials, as a result of reading this article. It had been a tough day and I hadn’t got in any writing yet. The end is in sight for that writing project.

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