Make it worth your time. 40 acts of service that take four minutes (or less).


“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”

 –Mother Teresa

Once a month I add 10 more quick service ideas to the list below. We are now up to 40 in total. Several of these ideas came from your suggestions which I sincerely appreciate. Each new idea serves this site, but also has the potential to serve many more. That’s what’s so great about service – each act starts with you, but you never know where it will end.

40 ways to serve in 4 minutes or less

  1. Admit you’re biased. We all are. Facing that we have biases (racial, class, religion, etc) helps us to better address our issues and to serve more sincerely.
  2. Loan someone a book you love.
  3. Don’t let it sit in a drawer. Give your old cell phone and chargers away or donate them to a charity.
  4. Treat a pet with kindness and respect.
  5. Share public service information (traffic detours, power outages, flood warnings etc.) via social media.
  6. Turn off and unplug electronics you aren’t using.
  7. Pick up trash that wasn’t properly discarded.
  8. Give someone more credit than they deserve.
  9. Hear gossip and refuse to spread it.
  10. Believe someone’s dream is possible. And tell them. They need the support.
  11. Fight indifference. Let yourself feel sadness when you see a homeless person.
  12. Tell someone you forgive them. And mean it.
  13. Put a Band-Aid in your wallet to give away when needed.
  14. Contact an elected official via social media to quickly advocate for a cause you believe in.
  15. Call someone you usually text and tell them you just wanted to hear their voice.
  16. Pick up an extra item or two from the grocery store to donate to your local food bank.
  17. Make a small online donation to a charity you support.
  18. Practice empathy. Take a few minutes and imagine the struggles of someone you know.
  19. Listen carefully. Many people yearn to be heard.
  20. Thank a teacher for their service.
  21. Tell someone a joke.
  22. Save someone from a work conversation they aren’t enjoying. “I hate to interrupt, but can I borrow you for two minutes.”
  23. Actually take your reusable bags into the store with you.
  24. Actually take your reusable cup into Starbucks with you.
  25. Pray for someone.
  26. Teach someone something. Anything.
  27. Text someone a specific compliment. (e.g. “I admire how much patience you have with me.”)
  28. Give someone you love your undivided attention.
  29. Hold a door open and wait while multiple people pass through.
  30. Take time to write a supportive comment to someone on Facebook.
  31. Hug someone.
  32. Share any online article that raises awareness of a service need.
  33. Let that busy person behind you go ahead of you in line.
  34. Leave change in a vending machine.
  35. Pay the toll for the person behind you.
  36. Thank a solider for their service.
  37. Discuss with a younger relative a piece of your family history.
  38. Cheer loudly for someone else’s kid.
  39. Give away an extra umbrella on a rainy day.
  40. If you love them, tell them.

What ideas are missing from this list?

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