My desk is almost to the point of being unusable. I am typing with my laptop dangling off of the edge and with my arm leaning on a notebook. The notebook is filled with a list of ways I might be able to add another minor task to my plate in my last semester of senior year of college. My desk is also full of six sticky notes with reminders and notes to myself, my planner, a to-do list, another to-do list, two bananas, a master to-do list, a journal, an open textbook with the reading assignment not yet completed, two workouts I printed but have not done, a magazine, a night cream sample, and a mirror, which also has a sticky note stuck to it, reminding me to do laundry.
With all of that being said (and wow, it’s a lot), I feel like I’m seriously taking control of my life. These past few weeks have been incredibly busy and overwhelming, but I feel powerful. The upcoming weeks are no better. Taking control of your life doesn’t always mean having a clean desk, an empty calendar, and everything figured out. In fact, that’s a rare thing in life. Chaos can’t necessarily be avoided, but taking control of your life can certainly make managing the chaos a lot easier. Here are a few ways to do just that.
1. Pick Your Priorities
The first way to start taking control of your life is deciding what exactly it is you’d like to take control of and what you need to do to ensure you don’t start slacking when you take control of those things. Let me explain: Say your priorities are friends, getting all As this semester, and bettering your long distance relationship. Now that you’ve got those established, decide which steps you might need to do all of those things. Maybe you’ll plan a lot of friend dates this semester and make a bucket list of things to do with friends. Perhaps you’ll spend an extra hour in the library each week. Maybe you’ll plan trips to visit your S.O. and send him or her snail mail sometimes just as a fun surprise.
2. Make Things You Want To Happen, HAPPEN
I love fall, and there are so many events happening near my college since it’s a very scenic little place. I found a bunch of events I wanted to go to, and I got friends to join in and make concrete plans. I wanted to fill my calendar with lots of fall-related things like pumpkin picking, farmer’s markets, and the Jackolantern Blaze — and I did it! Be proactive, gather your friends, and have everyone pull out their planners and schedules. Make time to visit places you’ve considered going to or activities that interest you. Figure out the steps you need to take and take them!
3. Don’t Wait For Someone Else to Call
If there’s a friend you want to see, hit them up for coffee or lunch. Don’t wait for people you like to get in touch with you — take control and make those plans. There’s nothing wrong with being the active one when it comes to keeping in touch.
4. Create a System
My system at the moment is a weird combination of my ClassTracker planner, Reminders app, Japanese weekly planner I found on Amazon, sticky notes, Google Calendar, and a giant dry erase board calendar. You probably read that and just kind of wtf’ed in horror, but it’s a system that, for the most part, works for me. I’m very forgetful and I value having things with me and being able to see everything spread out, hence the combination of digital and physical and portable and not-so-portable.
You might be content with just a planner or just an app on your phone. That’s certainly going to save you time! Find what works for you. Color coding is something I always try to do because, hello, Pinterest, but it’s something that I find is more work than it’s worth. You do you.
5. Value Opinions, But Don’t Blindly Follow Them
Perfect example? I was at Primark with friends the other day and I came across a men’s sweater covered in smiling cups. It’s so goddamn ugly but, for some reason, I was drawn to it. It’s magnificent and cozy. I tried it on and fell in love. Everyone told me not to buy it because it was hideous, but I bought it anyway. My opinion of what I wanted to buy and wear trumped my friends’ opinions. Maybe the sweater is hideous, but while I do value my friends’ opinions, ultimately, I bought it because it made me happy.
6. Choose Your Reasons
Your reasons for doing things might not be the same as someone else’s, and part of taking control of your life is acknowledging and accepting this.
7. Like What You Like
If you love reality TV shows, no need to let someone else make you feel bad for it. Perhaps your guilty pleasure is reading comic books. Take ownership of the things you enjoy.
8. Cut Out The Bad Stuff
Make extra efforts to quit bad habits, and take steps to eliminate some sources of unhappiness from your life, if possible. Even if a source of unhappiness can’t be entirely eliminated (oftentimes they can’t), they can usually be adapted to cause less unhappiness.
If, for example, doing your law homework causes you unhappiness, make a point to get it done at the beginning of the week so it won’t weigh on you for the rest of the week. Or, maybe your unhappiness is caused by your two-hour commute to work. To ease this unhappiness, try downloading your favorite podcast or bringing some library books to make the commute feel more productive and enjoyable.
9. Find Time for What You Enjoy
Schedule in time to journal or listen to a podcast you love during your commute. Watch your favorite TV series, even if it’s just enjoying one episode instead of bingeing three. Sometimes you’ll need to set limits or wake up a little bit earlier the net day, but taking control of your life includes taking control of the things you enjoy and making time for them.
What are some parts of your life you want to take control of?
New Yorker. Lover of sharp wit and soft kittens. Blogger behind eyelinerwingsandprettythings.com.
Image via Unsplash