What skills take less than 5 minutes to learn that everyone should know how to do? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Nela Canovic, growth mindset hacker, writer, and Silicon Valley entrepreneur, on Quora:

Here are three skills you can develop in 5 minutes or less that can improve the quality of your life and take you where you need to go: towards a healthier, well-balanced, optimistic, and more productive version of yourself.

Skill #1: Learn to start your day with a question to boost focus. Ask yourself: What is the one thing I am committed to completing today?

Here's why this skill is beneficial to you in the long term:

  • You train your brain to focus on what is most important to you: This means you don't waste it on things that are trivial, irrelevant, or distracting in any way.
  • You gain a sense of purpose: When you are focused on your personal commitments, it gives your life meaning, helps you understand you have something of value to contribute, and improves the quality of your day to day life.
  • You save yourself time: Knowing in advance the work you need to accomplish means that you don't waste hours evaluating multiple priorities throughout the day and wondering if you should have done things differently.
  • You help your brain perform more optimally: Committing to just ONE thing doesn't mean you'll be slacking off. In fact, it will free your brain from cluttered thoughts and gives it space to concentrate on what you consider the most important goal of the day.

Here's how to do it:

  • First, write it down: take a large sheet of paper and write the question in big bold letters with a thick marker.
  • Next, put it somewhere where you're most likely to look at it: it can be on your bedroom or the bathroom wall, next to the mirror for example.
  • Then, look at the question and ask it out loud as you're brushing your teeth or getting dressed.
  • Take a minute to think what's on your agenda for the day, then pick one thing that has top priority for you and give an answer out loud to yourself.
  • Tip: Start working on your one thing early. Why? Your brain is more capable of tackling analytical and complex problem-solving tasks in the first few hours of the day; for most people, this is how your circadian rhythm works. Make the most of those first hours and get the hardest work out of the way so that you can move on to other things later.

Skill #2: Jump-start your body and mind by preparing a super quick breakfast.

Here's why you should eat breakfast in the first place:

  • You boost your brain power by giving your brain the nutrients it needs in order to function optimally
  • You give yourself the fuel you need to generate energy so that you can get things done
  • You also improve your focus and concentration by choosing foods that improve memory and cognitive function

Here are some breakfast ideas that take less that 5 minutes to prepare:

  • Oatmeal: Mix your oats with 1 tablespoon flaxseeds, 1 teaspoon peanut butter, sliced banana or other fresh fruit, and some walnuts or almonds on top. Flaxseeds are an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a healthy fat that boosts cerebral cortex function.
  • Parfait: Layer 1/2 cup of yogurt, 1 tablespoon granola, 1 cup fresh fruit (sliced or diced), and a spoonful of nuts such as walnuts and almonds. Almonds are beneficial for increased attention and awareness necessary for learning, as well as restoring memory and cognitive function.
  • Eggs: They are a powerful mix of B vitamins (they help nerve cells to burn glucose), antioxidants (they protect neurons against damage), and omega-3 fatty acids (they keep nerve cells functioning at optimal speed). Have two eggs any style you like: hard or soft-boiled, scrambled, omelette-style with spinach or mushrooms, or just over easy.
  • Beet and berry smoothie: The natural nitrates in beets can increase blood flow to your brain, which improves mental performance. Combine in a blender 1/2 cup of orange juice, 1 cup frozen berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries), 1/2 cup diced beets (raw or roasted), 1 tablespoon granola, 2-3 dates, 1/4 cup coconut water or plain low-fat yogurt, and 3 ice cubes. Blend for one minute.

Skill #3: Dedicate 5 minutes of your day to say "thank you" for the people and things you have in your life right now.

Why it's important to develop this practice of gratitude:

  • It rewires your brain to think about positive things (the things that you have going for you) instead of the things you do not have and that can leave you feeling frustrated, anxious, worried, or unhappy
  • It helps you to see life as plentiful instead of empty, which translates into living a life of abundance instead of a life of scarcity
  • It creates a positive tone to your day that can impact not just one 24-hour period but even your general attitude towards life

Here's how to say "thank you":

  • Do it early. When you start your day with gratitude, you will feel the effects throughout the day. Take a few minutes when you wake up and before you start getting ready for work or school. Give yourself some quiet time to focus on what you want to say. You might want to write your thoughts down, or you may prefer to think about them or even say them out loud.
  • Start small. Focus only on 3 things you are grateful for today. It can be the simplest of things: having a warm bed to sleep in; a roof over your head; a family member, friend or a partner who loves you, who you can trust, and who encourages you to become the best version of yourself; food in your fridge; a dog, cat, or bird that you have as your pet; an education or a job that will empower you to take charge of your life and become independent.
  • Be specific. If you're thankful for that one person you have in your life, emphasize which of their qualities you are grateful for (they're warm, gracious, smart, generous, or just really funny and upbeat). If it's having your own room or apartment, point out why this is important to you (you can have quiet time in the evening to relax, read, or work undisturbed on things that are important to you).

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Published on: Mar 6, 2018