I’ve been taking up some difficult tasks. I have made the absurd decision to be a paralell entrepreneur and start a few businesses at the same time, so I’m basically a part time novelist, part time blogger, part time freelancer, part time receptionist, and part time language tutor. There are a lot of hats out there in the world, and for some reason I made the absurd decision to juggle several of them at the same time!
So with that kind of mess in my life, I understand a thing or two about a chaotic life. I’m working double full time hours, and any tiny cracks in my personal life become glaringly obvious in those sort of circumstances.
Do You Ever Just Groan “My Life is a Mess”?
The first step to getting your life in order is knowing what you really want to have in your life. It’s like hoarders trying to buy organizing bins for their stuff packed to the ceiling- you simply can’t organize too much!
I’m not a Minamilist, and very happy not to be. I like to have more than the bare essentials of living!
But you can’t really enjoy all your hobbies and your interests and friends if there are so many you just can’t make enough time, even if you didn’t have a job and had every hour of the day free, to focus on them. You’ve got to keep what matters, and discard the rest.
- First you’ll want to focus on finding what your goals are as a human. If you have no idea what those goals are, I suggest you check out my series on getting to know yourself better to find goals you may not even have known you had.
- Get the big picture on what matters to you. Now that you’ve brainstormed what your goals might be, write them all out and lay them out before you. See what you’ve pinned some bit of your hopes and dreams on. Do you see some things that don’t really fit for you at all? Are there goals that you’ve felt pressured to pursue even though you don’t care about them, or goals that fit a past you? It’s time to let go of goals and old dreams that don’t really vibe with you anymore.
- Put your final goals that you still love and care about somewhere that makes sense to you. Some people like to make a goal spreadsheet so they can track their progress in it throughout the year. I love to use the “My Effectiveness” app because it lets me track my big goals for the different realms of my life like my reading goals, art goals, authoring goals, blogging goals, and financial goals- and then I can also track the projects and tasks I’m doing to work towards them in the same app! (#NotSpon But I Wish I Were lol)
I just think the best way to clean up a messy life is to start by purging the unnecessary activities and obligations distracting you and weighing you down before you even touch your closet- how else will you know exactly what physical things are helping your dreams, and which just are taking up space, if you aren’t even sure what your dreams are? So get sure.
And then once you are, streamline how you get there.
You Need to Do the Things You Enjoy IN The Way You Like Them!
The next step is not just figuring out what you need to do to get where you want to be with your goals- you also need to purge extra steps and projects and tasks that don’t actually build towards your goal.
Think about it- I’m sure there’s been a hobby you’ve done just for some fun socializing and a creative outlet, but you ended up dropping it because it became too stressful. I’ve been there. I always liked music growing up, so I figured the next smart step was to move up from a standard class to join a competitive higher level chorus group.
And you know what?
I found out that doing the “logical thing” and becoming more serious about chorus actually sucked a lot of my fun out of it. All because it turned out my goal with chorus class was actually to get in some social time and have a bit of light hearted fun, but taking it to the competitive level was about being serious and driven, and that didn’t fit my goals at all and just really hurt my enjoyment.
There might be something like that in your life.
I’ve made the choice to be a professional author, and I enjoy doing several hours of writing and trying to balance the creative writing work and the business and marketing work that goes with it. But I know so many authors who were miserable once they made the switch to trying to actually finish stories and make them perfect finished books. And then there are even more who are miserable when they switch from trying to finish books to trying to make a business and income out of it, even if they are good at it, because it doesn’t actually fit their goal of just having fun exploring story ideas and they get bogged down by the stress of deadlines and perfectionism that bring them away from their goals.
Maybe there’s a hobby in your life you’ve felt like you needed to take to the next level, just to prove you enjoy it or because it’s some weird feeling of responsibility you have to it because you’re good at it, but I’m here to tell you that if you goal with your hobby is to just have fun, then you have my permission to cut out the serious stuff that is just sucking some of the fun out of it.
And visa versa, if you are doing something because you have a passion to get awards or finish races or what have you, you shouldn’t feel like you have to go to all the socials other hobbyist in your area do if that will take time away from what you really care about.
There’s a LOT of writing groups around DC, and there’d be no time for writing at all if I went to every single meetup. Instead I stick with just a handful that have times that work for me, people I like to spend time with, and topics that I enjoy.
It’s time to cut out things that fit some people’s versions of your goals, but don’t fit your goals.
Outsource the Have-To-Dos You Can’t Just Quit Doing
Now that you’ve made sure your life only includes things you enjoy in ways you enjoy them, what about the things you don’t really like or want to make time for that you can’t just not do?
Do you hate:
- taking out the trash, or scrubbing the bathroom
- Cleaning out your pet snake’s tank
- Making dinner
- Going through loads of emails to find only one or two were actually important
That’s just a few things a lot of people hate to do. And you know what? Maybe you don’t have to do the things that you really hate that take time away from what you love.
There’s an almost endless number of apps LINK LIST OF DELEGATING APPS and businesses LINK DELEGATING BIZs LIST out there that have been built just to take care of this for you (for a price, obvs).
You don’t have to just pay people- you can take turns doing unpleasant things with housemates, or completely delegate some grunt work to employees or your kids or whoever.
That said, make sure you are delegating things that actually need to be done, and not just a bunch of tasks that waste everyone’s time.
So, like, before hiring a Virtual Assistant to keep track of your inbox, go through and unsubscribe from newsletters and companies whose emails you don’t really need coming in. Make sure they are only doing work that is actually improving the situation instead of making someone else waste their time like you have been!
Another note, which I’m sure doesn’t need to be said to my lovely readers: delegating doesn’t mean just taking advantage of people.
Delegate, but Don’t Use People
You can expect other people in your house to take on the chore burden for example, but at the end of delegating it shouldn’t be that now someone else in the house is doing all the work and you aren’t pitching in anymore- it should be relatively equal. Don’t cross that line DELEGATING FAIRLY POST!
If you aren’t paying someone you are delegating to and they don’t share in your house, then you need to be fairly trading favors so you don’t end up becoming a toxic friend/family member/etc. If your neighbor agrees to watch your kids each morning, it would be fair to offer to pick up all the kids each evening, or offer to watch them on holidays. It’s all about sharing and relying on the strength of your community, instead of trying to pull a fast one over them!
Actually, even if you are paying someone- or a small team of people- to do work, you still need to make sure your are delegating things fairly. You’ll get better work and have happier workers that way!
Break Down Your Big Goals into Daily Routines to Use The Power of Habits
Take a look at what you have left to do. There may be a lot of new things that help you work towards a goal you’ve finally decided to take off the backburner. Yay!
There will also be a few old tasks that you don’t have to deal with anymore. Yay!
But at the end of the day, there’s probably still a lot you want or need to make room for in your life. That’s where the power of a routine comes into play.
A good routine is flexible, but it lets you get ~enough~ done for the everyday essential things you didn’t delegate while saving some good slivers of time for the really important-to-you things.
Some popular routines to consider:
- This website’s popular morning routines give you several options to consider
- college routines (hint:actually eating breakfast of some sort is life changing in college, even if that means just picking up a banana when you go to the dining hall at dinner!)
- mom routines
- side hustle while working full time can be a lot easier with some routine!
Whether you start from scratch or someone else’s routine, be sure that the routine you start to use actually does put in a little time every month for each of your important goals.
And remember your routine isn’t set in stone! Your schedule will change, and your priorities can too. Your routine is meant to help you, not trap you in a path taking you away from your goals, so be sure every few months to spend at least ten seconds considering if your routine is helping you, is useful but needs some renovations, or if it needs to go entirely. Hey, if it’s not helping you, you should feel no shame or regret in saying Hasta La Vista!
Out With The Old- Unless it Brings You ~Joy~
Now, last but not least, is the moment you probably were anticipating. To finish cleaning out your life, you need to clean out your stuff.
Whether you use the KonMari method and only keep the things that bring you ~joy~, the traditional Western adage to only keep things you’ve used within the last 12 months, or my fav is doing both.
My method is to keep things you’ve used OR that you love. So like, the knife that’s boring, but you use it everyday? Keep. AND keep the photo album which you don’t flip through super often but makes you so happy when you do you could never give it up.
Honestly most people who purge their stuff end up doing this combined method, but even though I definitely didn’t invent it, I still feel like acting like I at least own it. I’m just not willing to purge that little ~silly~ bit from my personality I guess!
Now, have you cut out the things you don’t really need or like from your life? Great!
Now please clean them.
Vacuum, scrub, throw the curtains in the washing machine, whatever it takes.
You’ll feel so much better once you do. You’ll feel accomplished and successful. You’ll feel like this has helped a little bit with Spring Sniffles.
And, most of all, you’ll feel like your life is just that much shinier and brighter for you.