The Infographics Show usually lasts somewhere between six and eight minutes, and while we hope you find them fun and informative, and a good way to spend those minutes, have you ever wondered what else you could be doing during this time? You’ll hear from self-help gurus far and wide that taking only a few minutes out of every day just to concentrate on one thing alone will likely start to show dividends over a longer time frame. Many of us are just habitual procrastinators, and some of us would rather stare at the wall than focus our minds on completing a task.
We’ll start with arguably the most important thing in your life, and that’s your health. Statistics differ, but the CDC tells us that only one in four Americans do regular exercise. Statistics don’t differ too much when we read about the country’s obesity problem, as well as all the medical complications one might suffer in later life, not to mention a feeling of general malaise that comes from sitting around too much and not exercising. The good news is, to be fit, or even buff, you don’t really need to put that much effort in. In fact, a study by the University of Utah in 2017 tells us that very short bursts of exercise will keep you fit. Another study found that a few 5-minute workouts in your living room will keep your heart in good condition. In fact, a few push-ups, which takes less than a minute, will strengthen many of your muscles and increase your metabolic rate. Add some squats to that – basically going down on your knees with a straight back and then up again – and over time this 6-8-minute workout every day if kept up will make you much fitter. You don’t have to be a gym-rat or a football player to stay fit and strong.
What about exercising your brain? There’s no exact time, but it’s generally thought most people take about one to three minutes to read a page of a book. This all depends on how fast you read and how many words there are on the page. Let’s say you can read a page in two minutes. 6 to 8 minutes a day reading means you’ll get through three to four pages a day. It doesn’t sound like much, but that’s 1095 to 1460 pages a year. So, for this little effort in a year you could have read several average-length classic works of fiction. You could have gone through millennia of heady thought after finishing Bertrand Russell’s “A History of Western Philosophy” (728 pages), and then added to that Bill Bryson’s more recent and easier to read “A Short History of Nearly Everything” (544 pages). So, in a year you’ve studied many of the great thinkers on some of the biggest questions in life and are down with a 101 scientific point of view on how this world and universe works. Not bad really, considering it wasn’t much effort at all.
Ok, but what about the smaller things in life. Now that you are smarter and fitter, what next? Well, most people type at a speed of around 30-70 words a minute, with the former being quite slow and the latter being quite fast. Let’s say you type at 50 WPM. This means you can type two decent emails in our 6-8 minutes. And you know there are many people you should probably keep in touch with more. One study we found showed that we keep making new friends up until the age of 25, and then we fall off a cliff, so to speak. “The average 25-year-old man contacts around 19 different people per month, where 25-year-old women contacted an average of around 17.5 people,” said the study. At the age of 39 we contact far fewer people. How many of you watching this feel like you may have neglected a relationship? So, let’s not lose our friends, and get busy composing those two emails or messages.
Sticking with writing, there are countless studies out there that state that the act of writing actually makes you smarter. Scientific research was cited by The Huffington Post in 2013 that said just by keeping a journal, say for 6-8 minutes a day, you’ll improve your vocabulary and your IQ will increase. There’s no end to how being a good writer with an ability to express yourself in words will improve your chances of success in life, and also what people think about you when they talk to you. Research also says these few minutes of journal time will heighten your emotional intelligence, give you better self-awareness, memory, creativity, self-discipline and help you deal with your problems. Not bad for a few minutes work a day. One professor who has been all over the media of late called Jordan Peterson has been swearing on how this keeping of journals or diaries can make a massive difference in how happy you are and also how successful you are.
Ok, so now you are already on your way to being a much better person. But there is more. Did any of you see that movie with Harry Dean Stanton, “Lucky”, based on his world view as he is about to leave the world. He played the lead role at 90-years old and could be seen drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes and walking everywhere. How can a 90-year old be in that kind of shape? Well, one of the things he says in the movie that he had been doing for many years – he died at 91 – was a few minutes of yoga stretches a day. It actually showed this old man doing those stretches and it was incredible to watch. You can find many articles out there that do indeed explain the benefits of 5 minutes of yoga stretches each day. If you want to remain nimble, flexible, and upright you should give that a try. Or you can just sit and do nothing for 5 minutes and think only about breathing; that’s called meditation. “Five minutes a day can change your life” is the mantra of many people that meditate.
Finally, make lists! Yes, making lists has been found to be good for everyone. It takes just a few minutes to write down all the things you want to achieve tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year. You might not do them, but at least you have an objective. Some self-help advisers tell us to make lists of all the things we appreciate in life, lest we forget. Or, what about a bucket list, or the concerts you want to see, the things you want to eat, the places you’d like to visit, the people you’d like to date. Studies cited in the media show that while you may not do all the things on your list, you’ll do more just because you made the list.
There are of course many other things you could do in five minutes. You’d could even attempt to put another person on planet Earth. The book, “The New Naked: The Ultimate Sex Education for Grown-Ups,” tells us the act for around half of men in the world takes less than two minutes. Now, adding to the population might not be what you want, but all kinds of scientific studies tell us that making love can have a lot of positive effects for the lovemakers, in terms of their happiness. As the saying goes, it’s the most natural thing in the world. It’s free, and it’s good for you.
We understand that if you do all these 6-8-minute activities a day, then it’s going to take some time, but why not try just a couple of them a day and see how you feel? There can be no doubt that just doing some extra things for a few minutes a day can make a big difference in your well-being.
So, do you do any of these things already? What else could we have added to this list? Let us know in the comments.