Here are a few tips to help you get started, whether you’re off to college, off to work, or off to get that new apartment or home set up:
1. Set your priorities and schedule according to what matters most. There are only so many hours in the day, and endless possibilities on how to spend it. Obviously, work and/or school are first, and those are not multiple choices. But there are countless “distractions” out there and people are always pressuring you to do this or try that. It’s literally impossible to do it all. In fact, the reason why there are many seasons of life is so you have a chance to do more over time – but you can’t do it all at once. Decide what you like best and make that a priority for your free time. Other things can be tried on a “when I have time” or “on the back burner” basis. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day for you to do everything that even you want. You have to make decisions based on what’s in your heart, not on what others would really like for you to do.
As a side note on this; it’s alright to be non-negotiable on one or two things. For example, my Bible reading time and my writing are absolutely not up for negotiation – period. I can be flexible with social time, reading, volunteer work, and even housecleaning, chores and errands, but those two things are not “back burner” eligible. Everybody needs one or two things that are theirs and theirs alone.
2. Don’t be afraid to say “no.” Believe me, others aren’t afraid to say no to you. If this scares you, get over that. The only way to keep balance in your life is to set acceptable boundaries and stick to them. It may make people mad for a little while, but soon enough they’ll get over it, and they’ll better understand and respect how you spend your time and energy.
3. Give up things that aren’t working for you. If a certain activity, hobby, club or organization isn’t working out for you the way it used to, don’t be afraid to let it go. Don’t invest in something that isn’t paying off for you in some way, be it spiritually, emotionally, or financially. I’ll tell you how this can be a money saving tip as well in my next blog entry.
4. Set up an organization system and keep it daily. I’ve often been accused of being excessively (or rather, obsessively) organized, but in reality it doesn’t take that much to make this work. It takes an investment of time, but if you establish a system of organization that works for you and maintain it daily, it’s well worth it. It takes a lot less time to find that bill if you take 2 minutes to file your paperwork at the end of the day, or to find your keys if you take a second to put them in the same place every time you’re done with them.
5. Utilize spot cleaning. I’m a master at this. You can spruce up your house in less than an hour with Clorox wipes in the kitchen and bathroom, a feather duster around the house, bleach in the toilets, a broom and Swiffer mop on the floors, and a vacuum in rooms that are used daily. And if you clean up messes as they happen and check around once every other week, it can go faster. I only deep clean my house once every 6-8 weeks. In between, I spot clean as needed.
6. Schedule your week. I do an exercise every Sunday that I call “Mapping My Week.” I check my calendar for meetings or other obligations, check around the house for things that need to be done, and come up with a schedule to get things accomplished. I also plan my outfits and the meals I want to cook each day. This can take as little as 5 minutes, and it’s well worth it. Now for those of you who say “that’s anal,” bear in mind that this schedule is flexible. If I schedule cage cleaning for Tuesday and that doesn’t work, then I can switch my Tuesday plans with Wednesday or Thursday. The point is to take time to plan an even distribution for getting things done so the week goes smoother. And , of course, I schedule “down time” as well. I always have 1 or 2 nights that I leave free for flex time if I get off schedule, or for stuff I enjoy if I don’t need that flex time. This is really effective time management, and with calendar apps on smartphones it’s really easy to keep up with dates, deadlines, and all you need to do. Use those apps and take the time to work with them at least once a week. I learned it my freshman year in college, and it continues to serve me well, even 17 years after graduating.
7. Take care of your health. Take your medications. You’re awesome, but you aren’t so charming and fabulous that you can go off the meds. Your doctor gave them to you so you can feel good and have a healthy life every day with less illness, so take advantage of modern medicine and pop that pill every day if your doctor told you to. Eat right and exercise. Drink plenty of water. Get enough sleep. Take care of your body, and it will stand a lot better to whatever life may bring.
8. Take care of your stuff. Keep up maintenance on your home and your car. It’s a lot easier ,less time consuming, and less embarrassing to have a low tire plugged than to find your car with a flat tire when you’re trying to leave work one day. If it doesn’t seem to be working as well as it used to, have it checked out. I learned this the hard way with our dishwasher a few months ago. It wasn’t running like it usually did, but it was the holidays, and we were busy. Rick had just been sick, I got the flu, and our parakeet was ill with what turned out to be a terminal illness. We were overwhelmed with life and thought “we’ll look at it later,” until it flooded our kitchen floor one day in late February and we had to order a new one, right when the parakeet’s health took a turn for the worse and we had to have him put to sleep. Putting that dishwasher problem off didn’t save us a thing. In fact caused it to come to a head at a worse time! We would have been better off being put to the trouble sooner rather than later. Don’t wait for it to die before you pay attention to it. It take less time to maintain and troubleshoot than to repair and replace.
9. Multitask with discernment. Multitasking is a popular thing right now, but it’s not always the best way to get more done in less time. In fact, sometimes it can take longer, or result in mistakes that could have been avoided if you had focused 100% of your attention on that task alone. It’s one thing to clean the house while a load of laundry is running. It’s quite another to try to balance finances and watch television. Know yourself, your responsibilities, and what you do well enough to know what you can multitask and what needs your full attention. Doing it right the first time is always more efficient than having to go back and make corrections later.
10. Read the instructions, all the way through, all the time, and follow them. Perhaps this should have been first, because it’s the tip people miss the most. Instructions are provided so you can get the most common questions answered and so things can get done correctly and as quickly as possible. Assuming that you’re too smart for that or that you know a better way is stupid. They exist for a reason, and it would behoove you to read and follow them. Plus, since so few people actually do it, you can appear incredibly intelligent when you know the right answer without fiddling, fumbling and farting around trying to guess it because you were too good to read a few paragraphs that said how to do it right the first time.
I hope these tips are helpful to you, whether you’re starting a new chapter of life or just need some advice on how to fine tune the life you have. Maybe you’ve made some of these discoveries yourself, or maybe this will help you fine tune the way you’re doing things. Either way, I hope it’s helpful it streamlining your life and finding ways to do things faster, easier, and more effectively so you can have more free time to enjoy.
I hope you’re enjoying this mini blog series. The next entry will be Money Saving Tips, and the final entry in this series will be General Tips.
That’s all today. Take care, and have a great week.