Little Things that Make a Big Difference


Liz Jenkins

goal notebook on a desk with coffee

As busy people, we often think in terms of tackling big projects and huge lifestyle changes in one fell swoop. But I have found that big changes in our lifestyle, habits, and behavior are, more often than not, the result of lots of little changes. Over time, you’ll be surprised that even the little things make a big difference in how you live, work, feel, and treat yourself and others.

Little Things to Master the To Do List

to do list journal

Sometimes I laugh at my own to do lists. They always have one or two small tasks that, if taken individually, don’t seem like they’d make much of a difference. But my philosophy is to identify things in my home or life that bug me and eliminate them on an ongoing basis.

Instead of a full on production, I start a list of everything that needs some attention. As I think of or notice more things, I add them to the list. Here are a few of the “little things” I added recently:

  • Get my kitchen knives sharpened.
  • Toss my old spices, make a list of what I need, and restock.
  • Cancel 2 magazine subscriptions (ones I don’t really read or enjoy) and renew the 3 I do read.
  • Wash or replace my makeup brushes.
  • Clean out my sock drawer (and my underwear drawer too…).
  • Strip, wash and air dry the covers to my throw pillows (and put them back on!).
  • Schedule service for the ice maker in the fridge (it’s been malfunctioning for weeks!).
  • Replace our old duvet insert that has seen better days.

Over time, this list ebbs and flows and each little ‘fix’ in my world makes my life run just a tiny bit smoother, and my days a little more enjoyable. I like to keep all of these “little things” in one ongoing list. Then, I’ll choose one or two to complete each week. You’ll be amazed at how quickly these little things will clear the clutter in your home and your mind.

Little Things to Improve Your Lifestyle

tomato and lettuce on a fork

Have you ever tried to implement a big lifestyle change, done it religiously for a week, and then slipped right back into your old ways? A great example of this is trying to overhaul your eating habits and make your diet healthier. Maybe you go to the grocery store, buy tons of veggies and lean meats to eat all week, only to get to the weekend and gorge yourself.

To make changes that will stick in the long term, why not use the “little things” approach with your habits, too? Here are some things you could try:

  • To go with our healthy eating example, replace one starch or carbohydrate each week with a vegetable. At my house, we’re loving using spiralized zucchini in place of pasta!
  • Do a small load of laundry each day, instead of letting it pile up for weeks.
  • Set a timer for ten minutes each day, and tidy up an area of your home during that time. It doesn’t take long, but imagine how much better it’ll look after a week!
  • Complete one household chore or cleaning task each day. I don’t know about you, but it wears me out to clean my entire house at once, and this approach is MUCH easier!
  • One night a week, take a short walk after work rather than plopping in front of the TV or scrolling through your phone on the couch. This one will help your mind AND your body– double the benefits!

You may have to give yourself small reminders to complete this little tasks in the beginning, but soon these little things will become habits. You’ll find a new routine, and these positive changes will become second nature to you.

Little Things to Create a Positive Mindset

serene coffee cup on a table

Of course, you can change your physical environment with small tasks and habit changes. But what about making changes in others’ lives and your own heart?

It seems we’re all surrounded by the attitude that we need to “get ahead” and “be the best.” While it certainly is good to strive for excellence, taking that competitive mindset can be incredibly toxic to your joy.  about how you can be kind to yourself and others throughout each day. Here are a few ideas:

  • Pay for a stranger’s coffee.
  • Look for something good in another person, even if it’s small. Give them a heartfelt compliment about what you see in them.
  • Notice the people around you such as cashiers, wait staff and car wash attendants. A sincere thank you and appreciation for their work can make their day.
  • Assume the best of other people, even in difficult situations.
  • Make a conscious choice to let go of  annoyance and move on.

The more you pay attention to those around you, the more you’ll be able to create positivity in others’ lives. When you choose to pass along kindness and compassion, your “little things” could truly brighten someone’s day. You never know who might need a little more positivity in their life, so always be on the lookout for ways you can be kind. When it’s given out, kindness has a funny way of coming back to you.

Little Things to Get You Started NOW

an alarm clock on a table

Maybe you’re thinking about making positive changes in your life, and you aren’t sure where to start. The best thing you can do is list out just one or two little things you can do TODAY, and let those steps slowly build up and reveal your next few little things. Give yourself the time, permission, and space to create positive behaviors in your life, one day at a time. Even though it may seem like a slow change, don’t fall into the trap that says “little things won’t really matter.” They DO matter, and one day you’ll look back at all the big change that your little things have made!