As a millennial with a demanding job and little time to take care of simple life things, I often feel a bit overwhelmed. I would like to think I have my life together but in reality, I don't really feel that way. I am just proud of myself when I do a wash a load of laundry and fold it in the same day (which rarely happens, lol). Adulting can be challenging especially when you are focused on your career and personal obligations. Finding time to "get your life together," can seem impossible because the term makes you think of people who have everything perfectly organized spending hours making it all happen. Well, I definitely don't have that kind of time and I am sure you don't either if you are reading this post. I am always trying to find simple ways to make life better and in turn live healthier and happier life. Join me as I explore ten easy and simple ways to help you get your life together and ultimately live your best life.
1. Make A To-Do List
Nothing makes me feel more accomplished than checking off a completed task on a to-do list. About a year ago, I was very ambitious and purchased a fancy planner with stickers and a multitude of pages for planning ahead. I must admit, I started off strong with writing down my schedule and goals each week but that soon tapered off. It was more of a time commitment than I could commit to but I would recommend it for those that love being creative. One thing that I did learn from the experience was the utter satisfaction I felt when I checked off that I completed a goal for the week. It could be as simple as going to the grocery store or washing my car.Though I do not use the fancy planner anymore, I still can easily create a weekly to-do list on my smartphone. I have an iPhone which has a built-in app called "Reminders." There is a tasks section under this app which allows you to list tasks that you would like to complete. Once you complete the tasks, you can go back in and mark them as completed. If it is a time-sensitive task, you can add a reminder to get a notification to complete the task at a certain time. I find this to be a very easy way to create to-do lists since I am on my phone all the time and it does not require any additional app downloads or much time commitment.I recommend limiting your to-do list to either weekly or daily. It may be a bit overwhelming to conquer a to-do list with a month's worth of tasks. Additionally, stick to simple tasks that are doable. Even if you are working toward a big goal, like starting a business, your tasks should be easily actionable, like creating a business plan or researching potential investors. Try to make sure you have a diversity of tasks so that you are not focused on taking care of business in only one area of your life. As you know, I am all about balance. Make sure your tasks range from career, personal development, home upkeep, and mental wellness.
This may not seem like a simple "life hack" especially if you haven't cleaned up in ages. I am a proponent of completing tasks in chunks. If you have accumulated a good bit of clutter, then start with one room at a time or one area at a time. Do it in short shifts and before you know it, you have decluttered your whole home. Once you have decluttered, you can maintain this clean environment by taking a few minutes at the end of each day to just put things away in their proper place.Why is a clutter-free environment important to "getting your life together?" Well, I think that I am more creative and motivated when I am not surrounded by clutter. Also, from a mood perspective, it is very relaxing to live in an environment that does not feel messy or over-crowded.If you live in a small space, any misplaced item or clutter-filled space can make you feel even more claustrophobic. Two easy ways to make a small space feel less cluttered is to make up your bed and clear counters. I used to be on team "don't make up your bed" because why waste that time if you are only going to get back in it later that night. I have completely converted after consistently making up my bed each morning for the past few months. When I return home from work, it feels great to plop down on a made bed in a clutter-free room. Also, keeping unnecessary items off of countertops and placed in appropriate drawers or closets is a great way to make your space seem more streamlined and less crowded.
3. Prepare for the Day Ahead
Every night I try to do two things to prepare for the day ahead and it makes all of the difference in my morning routine. First, I prepare my breakfast and lunch for the next day. I love to pack a breakfast and lunch because I often do not have time to grab anything to eat during the work day so it is more convenient for me to bring food. Additionally, despite the fact that I work in a hospital, we do not always have the healthiest or most affordable food choices so bringing food allows me to eat healthier and save money. For breakfast, I usually create a yogurt parfait or overnight oats. For lunch, I usually either pack leftovers from dinner or a salad.The second task I complete every night is to pick out my clothes for the next day. This saves me so much time in the morning because I can be fairly indecisive which ends up with me changing my outfit a few times and usually results in me being late for work. Even on days, when I don't have to put much thought into my outfit because I often have to wear hospital issued scrubs, I still find it helpful to have everything laid out in the bathroom so I can easily get dressed with everything I need at hand when I get out of the shower.Preparing ahead for the next day allows for a more relaxed and stress-free start to your day. You also have no excuse to skip breakfast or lunch because it is already packed. Remember breakfast is essential to provide fuel for the beginning of the day and helps you avoid overeating during meals later in the day.
4. Replace and Refresh
Did you know that you are supposed to change your toothbrush every three to four months? The American Dental Associationrecommends that you replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months or when your bristles become frayed. Advantages of changing your toothbrush regularly include avoiding microorganisms which can cause oral or systemic diseases. The mouth can harbor some harmful bacteria which can live on your toothbrush. Changing it regularly can help avoid harboring these bacteria on a potential host that enters your mouth daily. This can help you maintain better oral hygiene leading to a decreased chance of needing major oral surgery.Also, you should change your sheets once a week. Your sheets can accumulate sweat and debris over time. It is advisable to freshen them up every week to avoid sleeping in your own dirt. Additionally, you should change your sheets after having a viral illness to rid your room of possible sources of reinfection.
5. Own Your Time
Taking some "me time" allows you to have uninterrupted time to refocus and de-stress. I personally try to have some quiet time daily if possible because it is essential for self-care. That may mean sitting down on my couch for five minutes before walking out of the door in silence to mentally prepare for my day or taking a hot bath before bed with some relaxing music playing in the background. Don't be afraid to take time for yourself. It isn't selfish. As the saying goes, "You can't pour from an empty cup." We all need to recharge our batteries. I always feel energized and able to take on the world once I have had some quality "me time."As a part of owning your time, you should also be careful about how you spend your time. Try to avoid spending too much of your time doing things that are not fruitful. I am not suggesting that you completely cut out television and video games, but try to carve out some of the time that you would normally veg out on the couch to do something to work toward a goal or learn something new. I personally have a few medical board examinations coming up so I try to commit at least an hour a day to studying. I feel like a try grown-up when I turn the television off to actually do something that will translate into success for me in the future.Even if you are not studying for a test or trying to achieve a specific goal, you can use the time to create something like knitting a blanket, painting, or starting a blog. Participating in activities that have a specific end-point and goal in mind gives you something to look forward to and provides high satisfaction when you achieve your goal. When you make the most of your time, you can accomplish more with less effort and time commitment, which leads to my next point.
Get some sleep! This culture is so focused on working hard and achieving certain levels of success that sleep is actually frowned upon. I beg to differ. Sleep is essential to productivity. You should be getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night. This is completely possible if you manage your time appropriately, see above. Even when I work a 12-hour shift and have to return to work 12 hours later, I still use 8 hours of that time for sleep. It is tempting to sacrifice sleep to achieve other goals or catch up on Netflix but I know that importance of sleep and I definitely note a huge difference in my work performance, mood, and overall well-being when I don't get adequate sleep.Here are tips for getting adequate and effective sleep. Sleep is composed of cycles and the most restorative sleep is thought to be the REM cycle which is the cycle of sleep when you dream. Most people go through the REM cycle about 6 times a night if they sleep for 7-8 hours. If you sleep for a shorter period of time, you spend less time in the REM cycle and have in turn will have less effective sleep. There are ways to ensure that you get the most out of your sleep and get optimal time in the REM cycle. First, prepare your brain for sleep before you plan to actually go to bed. Turn off the television, turn down the lights, and decrease the brightness on your phone screen. The decreased light sends signals to your brain that it is time for bed and to secrete sleep hormones. Additionally, set of mood for relaxation including playing soothing music or aromatherapy with essential oils or lavender. Lastly, avoid any sleep interruptions by putting your phone in "do not disturb" mode which will silence your phone from incoming calls or text while you are sleeping.
7. Get Active
This should go without saying but it should be noted. Exercise is important not only to maintain physical health but improve mental health. The American Heart Association recommends thirty minutes of exercise, five times a week to prevent heart attack and stroke. Even if you are young and relatively healthy, it is never too early to prevent chronic health problems.I know it can be hard to also find time to exercise on top of all of these other things I have listed but you can easily incorporate exercise into your day and carve out your thirty minutes in no time. Take the stairs instead of the elevator at work or park a bit far away from the store to get some extra steps. I personally don't have a gym membership but I still get plenty of exercise in by taking a walk or jog in a nearby park when the weather is pleasant or using free workout app to guide an in-home workout while watching television. You don't have to take up too much of your personal time to get active, just multitask and you will be surprised at how much you are able to increase your physical activity without much time or monetary commitment.
8. Keep a Journal
I like to keep a journal to not only document my thoughts which can be very therapeutic and cathartic but to also look back and see how far I have come. I love to look back at journals from years ago and see how different my priorities have become over time. There is no better way to make yourself feel like you have your life together than to see first-hand how much you have matured and grown over time. The things that I thought I would not be able to overcome now seem like a distant concern that ultimately did not stop me. Talk about empowering. Journalling is a great way to chart your progress.As I stated before, journaling can be a great way to record your feelings and ideas in a safe space. I like to journal my long-term goals and aspirations. As I stated earlier, you don't need to get a fancy journal to participate in this activity. A lot of my journaling happens in the notes section of my phone when the mood strikes to get my thought down. Journalling is not something you have to do daily. I admit I journal sporadically when I feel the urge to record my thoughts. I find it very helpful in putting things into perspective even if it is not something I do regularly.
9. Avoid Negativity
You have control over how you spend your time and who you spend your time with. Negative people are sure to make you feel like you don't have your life together. When you surround yourself with people who put you down or don't support your dreams, you handicap your self-esteem and ability to accomplish goals. It can be hard to let go of some relationships, especially those with people you have known for years or family members, but if you feel drained and depressed after interacting with someone, you should probably create some distance. This is likely the hardest tip on this list of simple life hacks but it can be the most rewarding and freeing.Another source of unnecessary negativity is comparing yourself to others. Everyone has different timelines. You may not accomplish the same goals in the same amount of time as someone else close to you but that does not make you a failure. Trust me, you still have your life together if you continue to strive toward your goal and not let comparison discourage you from persevering.
10. Give Back
The ultimate sign that you have your life together is paying it forward. One of the most rewarding activities that I participate in is mentoring people who aspire to go into medicine. Giving back not only benefits others, but makes you aware that others look up to you.Additionally, simple tasks such as volunteering once a month for a local organization can connect you to your community and offer another source of fulfillment. I highly recommend giving back in some way that involves you actively engaging with others.
This list should help you to take steps toward getting your life together, so to speak. I hope that you realize that no one really has their life together and that you are most likely doing better than you think. Everyone has room for improvement and I believe that adding some of these life hacks to your routine will hopefully enhance your life and provide added fulfillment. I am all about living my best life and how that you will too!