Whether it’s taking fruit to work (and to the bedroom!), being polite to rude strangers or taking up skinny-dipping, here’s a century of ways to make life better, with little effort involved …
1 Exercise on a Monday night (nothing fun happens on a Monday night).
2 On the fence about a purchase? Wait 72 hours before you buy it.
3 Tip: the quickest supermarket queue is always behind the fullest trolley (greeting, paying and packing take longer than you think).
4 Bring fruit to work. Bring fruit to bed!
5 Consider going down to four days a week. It’s likely a disproportionate amount of your fifth day’s work is taxed anyway, so you’ll lose way less than a fifth of your take-home pay.
6 Everyone has an emotional blind spot when they fight. Work out what yours is, and remember it.
7 Plant spring bulbs, even if they’re just in a pot.
8 Send a voice note instead of a text; they sound like personal mini podcasts.
9 Keep a bird feeder by a window, ideally the kitchen. It’ll pass the time when you’re washing up.
10 Always bring ice to house parties (there’s never enough).
11 Get the lighting right: turn off the overhead one, turn on lots of lamps (but turn off when you leave the room).
12 Sharpen your knives.
13 Feeling sluggish at work? Try the Pomodoro technique: 25 minutes on, five-minute break, and repeat.
14 Buy a cheap blender and use it to finely chop onions (it saves on time and tears).
15 Keep your children’s drawings and paintings. Put the best ones in frames.
16 Set aside 10 minutes a day to do something you really enjoy – be it reading a book or playing Halo.
17 Don’t be weird about how to stack the dishwasher.
18 Reuse all plastic bags – even bread bags. Much of the packaging you can’t reuse can be taken to larger branches of supermarkets for recycling.Advertisement
19 Take a photo of the tag you are given when leaving your coat in a cloakroom.
20 Can’t sleep? Try a relaxing soak with lavender bath oil before bed.
21 Add the milk at least one minute after the tea has brewed.
22 Laugh shamelessly at your own jokes.
23 It might sound obvious, but a pint of water and two paracetamols before bed after a big night avoids a clanger of a hanger.
24 Start a Saturday morning with some classical music – it sets the tone for a calm weekend.
25 Look closely.
26 Set time limits for your apps. Just go to the settings on your smartphone and add a limit – for example, if you have an iPhone turn on Screen Time.
27 If possible, take the stairs.
28 Always be willing to miss the next train.
29 Eat meat once a week, max. Ideally less.
30 Be polite to rude strangers – it’s oddly thrilling.
31 Ask questions, and listen to the answers.
32 Connect with nature: stand outside barefoot for a few minutes – even when it’s cold.
33 Join your local library – and use it. Find yours here.
34 Go for a walk without your phone.
35 Eat salted butter (life’s too short for unsalted).
36 Stretch in the morning. And maybe in the evening.
37 If you’re going less than a mile, walk or cycle. About half of car journeys are under two miles, yet these create more pollution than longer journeys as the engine isn’t warmed up yet.
38 Sleep with your phone in a different room (and buy an alarm clock).
39 Send postcards from your holidays. Send them even if you’re not on holiday.
40 Instead of buying new shoes, get old ones resoled and buy new laces.
41 Buy a plant. Think you’ll kill it? Buy a fake one.
42 Don’t have Twitter on your phone.
43 If you find an item of clothing you love and are certain you will wear for ever, buy three.
44 Try taking a cold shower (30 seconds to two minutes) before your hot one. It’s good for your health – both physical and mental.
45 Text to say thank you.
46 Read a poem every day. Keep a compendium, such as A Poem for Every Day of the Year, by your bed.
47 Take out your headphones when walking – listen to the world.
48 Buy secondhand.
49 Buy in person!
50 Learn how to floss properly.
51 If something in the world is making you angry, write (politely) to your MP – they will read it.
52 Say hello to your neighbours.
53 Learn the basics of repairing your clothes.
54 Always bring something – wine, flowers – to a dinner/birthday party, even if they say not to.
55 Learn the names of 10 trees.
56 Call an old friend out of the blue.
57 Every so often, search your email for the word “unsubscribe” and then use it on as many as you can.
58 Buy a newspaper. (Ideally this one.)
59 Always have dessert.
60 Drop your shoulders.
61 Make something from scratch. Works best if it’s something you’d normally buy, such as a dress or a bag.
62 Go to bed earlier – but don’t take your phone with you.
63 Volunteer. Go to gov.uk/government/get-involved for ideas.
64 Dry your cutlery with a cloth (it keeps it shiny).
65 Instead of buying a morning coffee, set up a daily transfer of £2 from a current into a savings account and forget about it. Use it to treat yourself to something different later.
66 Don’t save things for “best”. Wear them – enjoy them.
68 Think about your posture: don’t slouch, and don’t cross your legs.
69 Hang your clothes up. Ideally on non-wire hangers (it’s better for them).
70 Skinny-dip with friends.
71 Switch your phone off on holiday (or at least delete your work email app).
72 Always use freshly ground pepper.
73 Thank a teacher who changed your life.
74 Respect your youngers.
75 Keep your keys in the same place.
76 Ditch the plastic cartons and find a milkman – The Modern Milkman has a comprehensive list.
77 Rent rather than buy a suit/dress for that forthcoming wedding (even if it’s your own).
78 Always book an extra day off after a holiday.
79 Ignore the algorithm – listen to music outside your usual taste.
80 Mute or leave a WhatsApp group chat.
81 Learn a TikTok dance (but don’t post it on TikTok).
82 Cook something you’ve never attempted before.
83 Join a local litter-picking group.
84 Handwash that thing you’ve never cleaned.
85 Don’t get a pet/do get a pet.
87 Learn how to breathe deeply: in through the nose, out through the mouth, making the exhale longer than the inhale.
88 Buy a bike and use it. Learn how to fix it, too.
89 Politely decline invitations if you don’t want to go.
90 If you do go, have an exit strategy (can we recommend a French exit, where you slip out unseen).
91 If in doubt, add cheese.
92 Don’t look at your phone at dinner.
93 Do that one thing you’ve been putting off.
94 Give compliments widely and freely.
96 Keep a book in your bag to avoid the temptation to doomscroll.
97 Listen to the albums you loved as a teenager.
98 Make a friend from a different generation.
99 Staying over at a friend’s place? Strip the bed in the morning.
100 For instant cheer, wear yellow.
This article was inspired by a similar exercise in Weekend magazine in January 2000. See the original list at theguardian.com/100-tips-from-2000