Late last night, one of my best friends texted me that they wanted to understand themselves better. I read the text and followed up with a question to get more information from them. It was a short, vague statement that needed more explaining. My friend explained that they felt like their life was a mess and they couldn’t find their place in this world. The only response I could think of was to tell them that all of us are a mess, just some of us are better at hiding it from others. My friend was not looking for this type of answer, but it is all I could think of. In our lives, we get to a place when everything gets repetitive, we want to furnish our lives with pretty things, but the low balance in our checking account is constantly looming over us. We want someone to come into our lives tell us what career path we should have, what friends are worth our time and to find us an apartment and stock up the fridge for us. But we are all adults now, so we have to get our life together ourselves. We used to fill up our free time being social with friends, but now sitting on a couch in pajamas after work sounds a lot more fun. We are constantly tired and fill our schedules with things that have to get done and carry that to do list around with us. When was the last time you woke up and had nothing to do or had nothing planned for that day? For me, it was in January and since then I have been moving full speed ahead without stopping.
The conversation with my friend fizzled out as all text conversations do, neither of us had the answer we were both looking for. I was up all night thinking about my friends question though, how do I get my life together?
- Sit Down and List Your Priorities
Earlier this week I went to bed with damp sheets because I washed them, but forgot to throw them in the dryer before I went to bed. For me my priorities are family, work, friends, me time and organizing/cleaning, though they don’t always go in that order. The rank of my priorities shift from day to day, but knowing what is most important going into my day, helps me be the most productive. I like to keep my priorities in check when I get overwhelmed. I can’t accomplish everything, but sitting on the couch with my parents to watch a movie together is sometimes more important than loading the dishwasher before I go to bed.
2. Know How Much Time You Have
Before I start my week, I like to sit down and see what hours I am working, what hours I have free to do stuff and how many hours I have that I can pamper myself. I usually work 45-48 hours a week, so if I don’t take time to designate when I can get certain things done, I find myself drowning in things I cannot accomplish the whole week. If I know I have four hours of free time before work on some days, I can schedule to get certain things done before work. I like to plan my week in advance, if I don’t I have set myself up for failure. I try to get as much done as I can before I go to work, because I know after a long day at work the last thing I want to do is do anything besides lay in bed and eat pasta!
3. Know Where Your Money Is
When was the last time you checked your bank account? With technology and everything being online, you don’t have an excuse not to check your bank account. I like to check my accounts at least once a week to make sure my checking account has enough money in their to cover my expenses. I have all of my bills automatically come out of my checking account to make sure I don’t fall behind on payments. I also know how much money goes out a month for bills, so I have my checking account set up so I always have enough to pay them. Over a year ago, I signed up for Mint and it helped me so where I spend my money. It helps track your purchases and then helps you budget your finances. Money can be an uncomfortable subject, but if you stay on top of it and know where you are spending money, you can see where you can cut back and when you can splurge. Just because you have money sitting in your savings account does not mean you should use it. Look at your finances and look at your near future goals. Get comfortable putting money aside that you won’t use to pay off a student loan or a credit card with. Put money in your savings to actually save for the future. Right now my family is getting ready to sell our house and move, and I know I will need money for moving expenses. I don’t want it to be a big shock to my account when I start spending money.
4. Bring Your Own Coffee
Speaking of finances, I am going to share how you can save $20 a week. Stop buying Starbucks or lunch! Make your own coffee and spend your money on groceries instead of eating out or buying coffee during the week. I give myself one day a week when I will buy a coffee, but even on those days I usually still bring my own. I will buy the Starbucks K Cups and make my coffee in the morning and will make a lunch the night before. Stock up on snacks and food you can make into quick lunches when you do your weekly food shop. Another way to save money, don’t buy drinks when you are out. I have plastic reusable water bottles I keep filled in the fridge so I can grab one on my way out in the morning. I also buy a container of Snapple or Diet Cokes at Wegmans and leave them in my car and some in the fridge. They are a like a $1 each if you buy them at the food store, compared to $2-$3 if you buy them at a convenience store. Every penny saved does add up!
5. Make Time For Friends
Most of my friendships are long distance, so we have to get creative on how to stay in touch. With technology, we can send each other daily Snapchats, like each others photos on Instagram or stalk their Facebook pages to see what we are all up to. Check in with your friends to see how they are doing. Send them an emoji or ask them about a post you saw on Facebook that they posted. It is difficult sometimes to start a conversation when you don’t see one another every day, but make an effort. Some of my friends and I will write a long paragraphs to each other to update each other in our lives. We don’t expect an immediate response or a response at all, just write to say hello or check in. I have one friend who is very busy with work and school so our conversations usually take 4 days to send and reply to a text conversation that usually is only 6 texts. We are not that great at responding, but it is the effort that counts!
6. Accept You Cannot Get Everything Done
When my friend got overwhelmed that they couldn’t get control of their life, I had to explain that very few of us do. Instead of waking up worrying about all the things we cannot control, wake up accepting you will get done what you can that day. Try to make the best of it. That credit card statement can sit there and you can pay the minimum. Laundry can sit there for another day. Your fridge can sit empty, order in! Instead of stressing out about it, do what you can and try again tomorrow.
7. Make Plans With Friends
I worked with a girl for four months before I finally got the courage to ask her to grab dinner or to see a movie after work one day. It sounds silly, but making friends in your twenties is more challenging than finding a date! I finally went up to her and made small talk and blurted out if she wanted to see a movie. It was awkward. It was improper English. But she just laughed and she replied that she wanted to ask me to hang out as well, just didn’t know how. Now we are good friends and continue to make plans outside of work. It may seem intimidating, but just ask someone if they want to get tacos or coffee sometime. I have been asking multiple people at work and not once have I been turned down for tacos!
7. Learn to Manage Stress
I suffer from anxiety and without my coping methods, it gets difficult to control. My current schedule and workload have been growing leaving me feeling discouraged. There is so much to do and very little time to get it done. I have ways that I can relieve stress and find ways to cope with my anxiety. What works for me doesn’t work for everyone, but if you take time to manage stress in a healthy way, it helps you in the long run.
Turn off Netflix and go to bed at a reasonable hour. I am guilty of this and continue to hit that button to say yes, I am still watching. It seems like a good idea at the time, but you will hate yourself in the morning when that alarm goes off! I am a lot more productive in the morning when I go to bed at a reasonable hour and get enough sleep. Instead I will read before I go to bed, or if I need something to fall asleep to I will put on Nick at Night and fall asleep to Friends or Full House.
9. Show Up On Time
If I show up early for work, I am in the best mood for the rest of the day. When I get there early, I have time to get settled before I have to start working. Put together an outfit and pack your lunch the night before, do whatever you can to get yourself out of the house faster in the morning.
10. Admit Defeat
We will never have our lives together and once we accept it, life gets a bit easier. Right now, we are only responsible for ourselves and in a few years we will have to juggle a relationship, family and a mortgage. Call up a friend and cancel dinner plans if you are overwhelmed. Or call up a friend when you need them most and ask to watch a movie on a couch in sweatpants for a chill night. The same goes if you see a friend struggling, check in and remind them that none of us have it together and it is totally okay!