I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to make life easier and more organized, because I’ve always been the type of person to get easily overwhelmed in times of stress, and work has been piling up in a way lately that feels nothing short of panic-inducing. I wrote last week about my battle (sometimes-winning, I should add!) against my own default laziness, and since then, I wanted to expand on it with some more general strategies to make things easier, even if you’re not prone to procrastination and panic like I am. So I spoke to people around me, did some reading, and combined it with my own experience to come up with 22 things you can do right now to make things much less hard.
1. Write down
one thing, no matter how small, that you’ve been putting off for a while for basically no reason. Put it in front of you where you’ll see it all day, on a post-it on your laptop if you have to. Get it accomplished within the day, and treat yourself to something — even if it’s just a home manicure or a glass of wine.
2. Call a family member you haven’t called in a while, and feel guilty about. Do it while you’re doing something else, like walking somewhere or washing dishes, so it doesn’t add time to a stressed schedule. You’ll be shocked how happy it makes both of you, and how nice it will feel to not have that person “you haven’t called in weeks.”
3. Make an extra portion of your dinner and put it away for lunch the next day. (Especially if you’re cooking for one, it automatically feels less depressing if you’re also cooking for your future-self.)
4. Make or find a playlist for tasks that you need to absolutely power your way through — things like pulsing EDM, lyrics in a language you don’t speak, and high energy are key.
5. Set tomorrow’s outfit out, just like when you were in school. It might feel kind of dorky, but it’s shocking how much it motivates you to actually get up and go where you need to the next day, when you don’t have to spend precious time and brain energy on picking something out. (This is also the strategy that gets you wearing way more cute, creative outfits, and using more of your wardrobe. No one is a fashion risk-taker when they’re half asleep in the morning.)
6. If you have some errands you’re really avoiding, group them together and plan to meet up with a friend while you’re out. The meeting up with a friend part will get you out of the house with excitement, and give you a reason to stop putting them off.
7. Find a safe way to organize your passwords and usernames, so you’re not constantly scrambling to figure out how into different accounts. Here’s a good primer on how.
8. Remove your credit card information from every online retailer you are prone to spending on when you’re stressed/bored/wanting to totally transform your life via buying a skirt you don’t need.
9.Set multiple alarms for yourself every day. Set recurring reminders. Never underestimate your ability to forget little things.
10. Give yourself permission to say “no” to a social engagement that’s just going to cost you money and make you feel worse. Be polite, be honest, and be respectful, but say no. Don’t say yes and then find yourself panicking the day of, wondering how you can cancel without them hating you.
11. Pick out an “email time” during your day, once or twice, where you power through them at once. Constantly glancing over to your inbox every time something pops up is only going to distract you from the rest of your work, and nine times out of 10, it can wait a few hours. Unless you’re waiting on something really essential, keep your inbox tab closed when you’re not using it.
12. Unless you risk getting in trouble for it, turn off your work notifications on the weekend. Feeling your stomach sink on Saturday night because you have a meeting Monday morning isn’t helping anyone, and it’s only teaching your colleagues that any time is a-ok to harass you.
13. Go through your social media and delete (or mute, if you absolutely have to) every person who inspires any kind of negative feeling when you see them on your screen. Jealousy, anger, sadness, insecurity, whatever. Let ’em go.
14. Get Evernote, it’s like the notes app on steroids and it will change your life.
15. Buy a basic corkboard to keep wherever you’ll see it the most — your office, your bedroom, wherever — so you can start visualizing your goals. Saving for a vacation? Have a dream home you want to buy? Big savings goals? A dream job? Personal style aspiration? Seeing it in front of you each day will make it feel more real, more attainable, and more motivating. Here’s TFD’s office visualization board.
16. Go through your wardrobe, as honestly as possible, and get rid of what you don’t need or never wear. Pare your closet down to only the things you actually get use out of.
17. Assess, in an Excel sheet if you have to, the basic wardrobe items you don’t have that are keeping you from having chic, professional style without having to agonize every morning. Start saving for them.
18. If you know you’re not going to be able to do something on time, let the concerned parties know as soon as possible so you can reschedule. Don’t put off the act of having to push back a deadline.
19. Get a yoga mat, keep it in your room, and do a few stretches each morning when you get out of bed. You don’t have to turn into an aspirational yoga blogger, you can just wake up in a more comfortable and healthy way by giving your body some attention.
20. Go to meetup.com and find at least one hobby or activity in your area that doesn’t involve alcohol and is something you’re actually interested in. Put it on your calendar.
21. When you’re done for the day, close your laptop. Turn off your notifications. Don’t drag work out til 11 PM just because you don’t know how to stop yourself — it’ll only make you more exhausted and less productive throughout the week.
22. Challenge yourself to cut back on whatever bad habit you’re slipping into, at least one day a week. For me, it’s having at least one workday per week without coffee (just tea). It makes it easier for me to stay at no more than a cup and a half of coffee on the rest of my workdays. It’s not a perfect science, but it definitely helps.
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