One of my closest friends came for a visit yesterday. We hadn’t seen each other in months due to the pandemic. It was very refreshing to connect. We went on a long walk and my friend suggested that we just ask each other questions to keep working on knowing each other. I was fine with that because I absolutely love the question game; it sparks great conversations. We have both been devoted to personal development in the last few years and have shared resources with each other. By the time our meeting was over, we had nonchalantly touched on multiple things that make our lives easier. This is my list (my friend agrees with some of these items as well):
- Budgeting: For some, it is so restrictive or controlling, but trust me, it is so freeing! This is one thing that I wish I would have done earlier (see post on my regrets during my twenties here). In a nutshell, budgeting has helped me spend wisely. I learn what my true wants and needs are, I stay within my set limits, and I save. This in turn has helped me shed other habits that spending was endorsing, like shopping for a hobby.
- To-Do lists: Better said, things I want to accomplish during the day. There were days that I would sit on the couch thinking I had nothing to do, and then I remembered at the last minute that I had to pay a bill or that the baby had no more clean pajamas. I don’t like an hour-by-hour schedule because it makes me feel constricted, however, having an idea of what I want done not only helps me accomplish things but also makes my days pleasantly productive. See my post on how to take ten minutes to get things done.
- Night showers: I converted about five years ago when I was abroad, taking public transportation to and from work. I used to shower in the morning, but when coming home I had to shower. I didn’t feel well to me to bring the germs from the day into bed with me. There are a couple of great benefits to this. The obvious one is that it saves me time in the morning. The other reason is that unconsciously it has turned into part of my bedtime and relaxes me, making getting in bed even more enjoyable.
- Picking out my clothes: Mind you, I only do this when I need to be out early or I am traveling. I enjoy getting ready so this has never seen as a burden to me, however, at times I just freeze while in my closet, with no idea of how to connect what I want to wear with how I am feeling that day. I will think the night before of what I want to wear (I’ll stop there if I am already in bed) and go pull it. It is the best idea to bring the pieces out in case the items need extra attention. I usually purchase no-fuss clothing so thankfully mine usually don’t.
- Ordering groceries: This has been an excellent way to avoiding people during these times. What I have learned is that not only do I spend less, but I purchase better. I select my items with a “menu” in mind. I also buy less junk food and can start my cart anytime by just putting things in as soon as we run out of them.
- Meal planning: It sounds so housewife-like, but it should be how we all approach cooking. My husband and I have five minute chats usually on Sundays on what we are eating the next week. I do most of the shopping and cooking but include him as an extra source of ideas and for feedback of what he would like. I write it down on a calendar and now have to spend zero time asking myself what we are having or trying to instant-defreeze some chicken.
- Arriving early: I have to confess that I am still working on this one. There is value in padding an extra ten minutes to make sure you are there on time. The push underneath is that I don’t like being rushed: it makes me feel out of control. It does not allow me to see the moment as enjoyable but as a blurred task. I don’t like to live that way.
- Waking up early: Another one that I want to keep working on but one that I am getting better and better at. I not only have a baby but work a full time job. Waking up before anything else starts gives me some breathing room for myself, allowing me to process the day as mine and not as my employer’s or as a caretaker. I like to take time to read my Bible and pray, and some days even go on a twenty-minute jog. This time refuels me and helps me have more to give throughout the day. Being up early also causes me to go to bed earlier. I actually enjoy this a lot, because it cuts into wasted time like unnecessary screen time in the evenings.
As you can see, there is a common theme: planning. Planning at first sounds burdensome, but what it really means is making decisions ahead of time. You start deciding what you are going to do with your time and money before the moment comes, and how you are going to do it. It reduces your probability to fail to meet your goals. You save time by being in the moment and hands on when needed, instead of having to think about it or set it up. Planning gives you freedom because it lets you see how much of any resource is available to accomplish what you need or want to do. The more you delve into mapping out your day, the more you will start recognizing what is important to you, and pouring into that instead of anything that doesn’t bring value to your life.
There are many items in this list. I would urge you to give them all a go, if they are not in your rotation already. However, I would recommend to try one at a time (except for creating and shopping for your weekly menu since those go hand in hand) and give them a real chance. Once you have found your rhythm, jump to the next one.
If you have any other things that have helped you or any of these are beneficial to you, please let me know!