You know that feeling when you wake up and you’re already dreading the day ahead because you just can’t deal with all of the adulting you have to do? You’re overwhelmed with the number of unfinished projects, undone chores, and overdue bills. Just about everything in your life seems to be out of control. From work to family & social commitments to personal health to running a side hustle, it seems as if there are never enough hours in a day.
If this sounds like your life right now, first things first – take a deep breath and try to forgive yourself. You are just one person, and it can be hard to keep up with everything in the fast-paced world that we live in. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed sometimes, and it doesn’t make you a bad person. By beating yourself up you’ll only deepen the negativity within you.
Now, the good news is that there are plenty of things you can do today to get your life in order so that you can move past the overwhelm and feel more put together.
A Helpful Reminder Before You Get Started
Before you start tackling a list of things to get your life in order, you should take a moment to remind yourself to take things one step, one day at a time.
When confronted with the thought of ALL of the things that you need to do, it’s tempting to want an immediate fix to all of the things that are overwhelming you. But here’s the reality – all that pileup of unfinished and undone things didn’t really happen in a single day. So it would be unrealistic to expect them to be sorted out in a single day, right?
Being gentle with yourself for how things stand right now, and learning to prioritize will be two things you’ll have to learn along the way of trying to get your life in order.
How to Get Your Life in Order
If life has really got you particularly down lately, it might be a good time to step back and do a deep life audit and try to figure out what’s really happening.
But as much as I value the impact of these kinds of thorough mental cleanses, sometimes you just need to do something to get things started. And from my own experiences, I know that sometimes just a tiny little bit of achievement can set you off in the right direction.
So with this list below, I’ve tried to focus on a mix of things that are easy wins as well as things that can you start doing to build it up over time to get your life in order.
Do a mind dump
Take a piece of paper and put down everything that is on your mind. From things that are bothering you to reminders to new ideas – really, everything. Even if you’re not in a mood to do a full life audit, it still helps to put things down in writing to clear up your mind. You can then start organizing things by category and tackle them according to priority.
Make a plan of action
From your mind dump exercise, if there are ‘larger’ to-dos or things that will take longer to get done, break them down into smaller chunks and make an achievable goal.
Plan your day ahead
Before you go to sleep, take a few minutes and plan for your next day. This way you can set aside block time for tasks that are particularly important or need more attention. By making your list the night before instead of on the day of, you’ll wake up feeling with a sense of control and direction.
Go to bed earlier
The number one way you can do things is by getting enough sleep. You don’t need me to tell you how important this is for your health and mental wellbeing, but it affects more than just that – lack of sleep has been linked with higher levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and other negative emotions. Go ahead and get your necessary eight hours of sleep.
Get a health checkup done
If you haven’t had a full health checkup in a while, it might be a good idea to get one done to rule out any underlying medical issues or deficiencies to explain the lack of energy, fatigue, or motivation.
Schedule an appointment with a therapist or a counselor
Similar to your physical health, you can proactively try to seek advice for your mental health as well. By listening and asking questions, therapists are able to provide you with insights that might not have occurred to you before.
Take care of small tasks throughout the day
This is a particularly helpful tip for people who are feeling overwhelmed by just the number of tasks that need to be done. By taking care of small things as you go, you can feel more accomplished and less stressed throughout the day, which will make it easier to keep going! Like, wash your dishes as soon as you’re done with your meal instead of putting that off for the end of the day when you’ll end up needing to tackle a much bigger pile of dishes.
At one point in time, I used to list ‘good at multitasking’ as a skill on my resume. Several years of experience later, I have definitely taken that off with absolutely zero shame. Trying to constantly multitask made me feel like I was spreading myself too thin all the time. Thankfully, the world of productivity hacks also seems to agree with that sentiment. When you multitask, your brain can’t focus on one task at once – so while it feels like you’re getting done twice the work in half the time, really all that is happening is that every single thing will take you twice as long to finish.
Do some light exercise
Exercise doesn’t always need to mean hours at the gym. Just five minutes of walking or jumping jacks can help you feel more energized and ready to take on your tasks for the day, while also giving you a break from endless hours in front of that computer screen!
Spend time with your friends and family
This is something that’s easy to neglect when you’re busy, but it can be just what the doctor ordered. Spending time with people who care about you will help curb any feelings of isolation or worthlessness.
Take a break from social media
We all know how addictive social media and our devices can be, and while there is nothing wrong with a little of that occasionally, too much time spent on these things will make it hard to focus on the tasks at hand.
Drink more water
Drinking water is crucial for overall good health, but it can also help with any feelings of fatigue or exhaustion. I like to believe that drinking more water makes things move easier within my body which ultimately leads to feeling fresher.
Create a meal plan
If you’re not used to it, meal planning can feel like a lot of effort. If you’re new to this, or want to get started with healthy eating habits, start with making a plan for two days at most, and only once you get comfortable with that, move on making meal plans for the next 3-4 days, eventually building up to a week-long meal plan.
Get dressed in something comfortable
It sounds silly that this one needs to be on this list, but when I’m feeling stressed about how my day is going it’s easy for me to wear cozy favorites and then feel frustrated with myself for not putting in more effort. But you know what? It doesn’t really matter if you’re wearing a nice dress or sweats as long as they make you feel good.
Take a nap
Might sound counterintuitive, but we all need to recharge from time to time and napping is a great way for you to do just that!
Start small if you need to, but letting go of excesses and things that no longer serve you can help you feel more in control. Ideas to get you started:
• junk drawer
• medicine cabinet
Organize your life with a planner
A planner can help you structure your day better to avoid you feeling overwhelmed. Digital or analog – use whatever works for you.
Cancel subscriptions that you never use
The saved time and money is worth the peace of mind in knowing you’re not wasting your hard-earned cash on things you’ll never do.
Take up a 30-day challenge
Pick an aspect of your life that you want to work on most urgently and set yourself a 30-day challenge to get into that habit.
READ MORE: 65 30-Day Challenge Ideas That You Can Try
Take the time to be grateful
Make a gratitude journal and take time each day to list at least one thing that you’re grateful for. Even when things seem to be spiraling out of control, there is always something to be thankful for. Making it a habit will force you to shift your focus from negative things and see all the good that you already have in your life.
Get smart about email
Try out the ‘2-minute rule’. If an email can be tackled in 2 minutes or less, respond to it (or take the necessary action) and be done with it. Block out a later time for tackling emails that will take longer to respond to.
Create a note-taking habit
Have something handy with you always to jot down notes – flashes of inspiration, sudden reminders that pop up, an addition to your to-do list – as you go about your day. Then at the end of the day, spend 5-10 minutes going over your list of notes for the day and decide what action you need to take on each of them.
Determine a cut-off time for your workday
When you know when to stop working, it’ll be easier to say ‘No’ to any extra tasks that might come up. You can always take care of them the next day or add them to your task list.
Take a day (or at least a few hours) off every week
When you’ve got a mountain of things to tackle, it might seem impossible to take a day or a few hours off every week, but you definitely need that rest and relaxation to keep your spirit and energy up!
Watch less TV
You can use that time to do something more useful and productive that will actually get you ahead with your long list of to-dos.
Set up reminders for goals
Keep tabs on what you want to achieve by setting up recurring alerts and notifications.
Set up reminders for events
Birthdays, anniversaries, special events – put it all down in a calendar system with enough notice before the actual event (so that you can prepare appropriately).
Create systems and workflows
Systems and workflows are helpful because they make things more streamlined and predictable. It prevents you from becoming a headless chicken trying to get through life, and predictability is a good thing to have when too many things are overwhelming you.
Set up dedicated ‘stations’ around the house
It’s really a fancy way of saying keeping things that go together in one place. Like, a coffee station should have all your coffee-making supplies in one place. The same goes for, say, something like a craft corner. Having a dedicated and common place for things that get used together will help cut down on time and energy in trying to bring it all together when you need them.
Delegate what you can
When you delegate tasks and jobs to other people, it’ll free up your time from things that are not as important. You can save yourself some energy for the more urgent or difficult tasks at hand!
Take note of what makes you happy
When we’re feeling down and need some inspiration, all we have to do is go back to that note and get ready for a quick pick-me-up.
Set up mindful routines in your daily schedule
Instead of letting things get in the way of you living your best life, try to incorporate rituals in your daily schedule that gives you time to take care of yourself and do those things that are important to YOU. A simple morning routine of sipping a cup of tea by yourself might seem like an inconsequential thing, but just that little ritual could help to set the tone for your day by helping you feel more grounded.
Create a daily clean-up habit
Set the timer for 10-15 minutes every night before you get into bed and just put things back in their place. A quick daily clean-up habit will prevent a massive ‘clean up the house’ project on the weekend.
Use technology to your advantage
Yes, there is such a thing as too much social media, but technology also makes certain things in our lives easier. There is an app for just about everything these days!
Take backups and make copies of important things
Get into the habit of backing up your photos and important documents regularly so that you don’t have to worry about losing them if something goes wrong.
Save for a rainy day
Start small if you need to, but building an emergency fund, or a savings fund is one of the best things you can do for your adult self.
Be up-to-date on your insurance policies
In the case of any incidents, having your insurance policies’ current and next of kin/emergency/nominee details in place will make things a lot smoother for you and your family.
Automate your finances
Automating your finances is a great way of keeping track of where all your money goes without having to spend hours upon hours doing manual bookkeeping every month. It also takes out the guesswork of whether you’re late for a payment or not.
Seek inspiration from others
Look up memoirs or interviews of successful people and people that you admire about they get things done. You just might pick up a handy trick or two. Check out this interview series to begin with.
Make time to laugh out loud
Sometimes when you’ve got too much going on and too many things to take care of, seeking lighter joys and laughter can fall by the wayside. Try to actively seek out some laughs every day – watch that funny TV show, or speak to a friend who always lightens you up, or even cute baby/animal videos on YouTube!
I hope this list gives you an idea of how you can get started with getting your life in order. The key really is making small changes and taking tiny actions, not big ones.