When you look around at others, it can be easy to feel like you're the only one who isn't in control of your life in the way that you want. The truth is that everyone is dropping the ball somewhere.
No one has a perfect balance, and letting yourself give up the fantasy that it's possible is the first step to being happier with the imperfect but pretty good life that you have. However, just because you're no longer trying to do it all doesn't mean you can't take steps to shape things up. Choosing one or all of the areas below to make improvements can help you focus more on the things you really care about.
Ironically, an effort to simplify everything can get overwhelming, so start with just one thing, either whatever is bothering you the most or whatever is easy but can still give you a sense of accomplishment. It might be trying to simplify home décor and decluttering for ten minutes each day. It might be setting all of your bills to autopay so you're never responsible for another late fee. It might be figuring out a few quick, nutritious meals you can whip up in no time or creating a capsule wardrobe so you can mix and match pieces quickly without worrying about what to wear every day.
Spending less can mean saving more, paying off more debt or having more money for the things that you really want as opposed to the things that were impulse bought or grabbed just because they were convenient. There are plenty of ways to figure out how to spend less, but if making a budget seems like too much to start with, choose just one thing. Maybe you'll cancel all the memberships and subscriptions you're paying for but rarely using.
Maybe you can refinance your existing student loans. This can substantially lower your monthly payments and your overall debt if you refinance into a new loan with lower interest rates. Maybe you'll look for lower insurance rates or institute a buy-nothing period. Have a goal for the money that you save, whether it's building up an emergency fund, investing, or going on a great vacation.
Audit Your Time
This one is a little more intensive, but if you really want to start making some headway on projects or activities that you never seem to get around to, get serious about time management skills and creating a time budget. How much time do you waste on activities that aren't satisfying for little or no reward? What could you replace those activities with instead?
Nobody gets to do everything they want all the time, but if you wonder where all that time you used to spend reading, exercising or hanging out with friends went, pay attention to how much of your day is consumed by mindless trips down social media rabbit holes or watching something after work that you don't even particularly like. The idea isn't to eliminate every relaxing activity or a bit of downtime but to really interrogate where your energy is going and if you wouldn't feel better applying it in a different direction.
Schedule your week
Create a schedule for yourself and stick to it. This will help you plan out your week in advance and give you an idea of how much time you need for certain tasks.
A schedule is not just a list of events that happens at particular times but it also includes how much time you will spend on each event. This means that for every hour of your day, there will be a specific activity or task to do. Planning the day ahead helps us with our mental health as it gives us stability and predictability in our lives.
The first step of making a schedule is to get an overview of your current routine. Write down everything you do on a day-to-day basis, including work, sleep, leisure activities, errands etc. Then categorise these activities into morning, afternoon and evening slots. Try to keep the most important tasks for the morning slots and less important tasks for the evening slots if possible.
Here are some tips on how to organize your week:
- Plan your week in advance
- Set realistic goals
- Track your progress
- Be flexible with the schedule