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One of the worst things about being an adult is all the adult-ing you need to do just to keep up. I’m not even talking about getting ahead in life – just the stuff you have to do to keep functioning as a human.
Things like paying bills, eating healthy meals, exercising, keeping your home presentable. If you’re in the habit of procrastinating like me, chances are you’re not very organised and can’t keep up with all your grown-up chores.
Add to this your hopes and dreams for your future awesome life, and suddenly you’re buried in to-do lists. No longer feeling like an adult, more like a lost child.
You might be looking for an easy way to make it all happen and I’m here to tell you, you’re in the right place.
What follows is my way of automating the tedious parts of life to minimise the time, thought and effort spent doing them. Yay for more time for the good things! Getting organised initially will take a little time, but it will pay off very quickly. Do it and see!
It might even make sense to make following this guide your New Year’s Resolution, when you have the most motivation. Although you don’t actually have to wait until the New Year to get started on it. See what I mean in my post on the matter.
Organise your papers
Sort and eliminate first
First of all, organise and clear every scrap of your paperwork.
Shred things you don’t need to keep, and use it to line your chickens’ nesting boxes. Manuals, unless valuable themselves, can be shredded too. You can find manuals for almost everything online these days. Alternatively, you can use your paper to start your fire of an evening (or on a cold morning!).
Scan things you do need to keep but that you don’t need a physical copy of – this includes receipts. Remember to keep your scanned information in more than one place. Backing up digital data is very important because once it’s gone, it’s difficult or impossible to recover.
The paperwork you’re left with should only be the important stuff you need hard copies of, like passports and birth certificates.
Now organise it
From here, the best system I’ve seen for organising your papers is with D-ring binders.
You can arrange them how you like, but popular categories are financial, home, kids, medical, legal, and emergency. Some people like to have all of their most important and hard-to-replace documents in the same folder. In an emergency they can grab it and run. I am definitely a fan of this one.
Pick and choose as you need, and create categories that suit you better if you have to. There are no hard and fast rules, just do what works. Pick binders that are pretty and tactile, that make you WANT to pick them up and use them. Buy plain ones and decorate them, if you’re crafty.
Once your binders are sorted, come up with a system to keep them organised and working as planned. There’s no use going to all of this effort only to have papers everywhere again in a few weeks’ time!
Pick a day and make it paperwork day. Spend just a few minutes going through every scrap of paper that came through the door over the past week and deal with it. Shred it, scan it, or file it. There shouldn’t be much that you need to file any more.
Now that you have binders and a system, take a breath, a break, and reward yourself. Step one done!
Create a yearly meal plan
I know this sounds like a lot of work, but hear me out. Have you ever tried to create a weekly meal plan? You have to do that sh*t every single week!
And when you don’t get time to do it, you feel like you’ve fallen behind and let yourself down. That’s not good for motivation. The easy way to both have a meal plan and not let yourself down is to make it once a year. It takes much less time and then you don’t have to think about it for an entire year!!
This job is easier if you theme your nights. I have Mexican on Mondays and a roast on Sundays, for example. There are others, too. Just stick to dinner for your first year doing this, so that you don’t get overwhelmed.
Create a realistic exercise plan
The next step – work on getting fit. Don’t groan.
It helps the mind as well as the body, and will only benefit you in your journey to a curated life. I think it helps to keep us young. Think about it – you did so much incidental exercise as a child, but you’re no longer actually jumping for joy or running down hills as an adult.
You may think cramming an exercise routine in with everything else you have to do will only make your life more difficult, but it actually improves your time management skills and increases focus. This means that you can get more done in less time. There’s a reason most successful people exercise.
Think about what you’re comfortable doing, and what you’re likely to fit in. There’s no point scheduling five hour-long gym sessions a week if you don’t like the gym and don’t have the time to do that much. You won’t keep to the plan and your motivation won’t last long. Instead, you might schedule in a game or two of tennis per week with a friend, and a jog on Saturday morning.
Having a friend helps to keep you accountable and studies show that you work harder when you’re not on your own. Starting your workout routine with simple and fun exercise is the best way. It builds up your confidence in your ability to do it and the sense of satisfaction keeps your motivation up. From there, you can always adjust upwards and do more.
Come up with a schedule for cleaning
Yeah, cleaning sucks. And you could always just avoid it. But you’re an adult now and want to have a guest-ready house, and to enjoy your living space, so you need to keep it clean.
The easiest way to do this (apart from hire someone, and who can afford that?!) is to create a schedule for it.
Begin by writing down every single cleaning task that applies to your living situation. Next, determine the frequency with which these jobs must be done. Some will be weekly, others only once a year. Pick a day to do your cleaning, and schedule it in like an appointment each week.
When that day comes around, tick off the things you’ve written on your list. Write in your calendar the less frequent jobs, especially the yearly, half-yearly, and quarterly ones. That way you won’t forget.
Your work is done here if you live on your own.
Otherwise, if you live with others, divide the work up between all of you. You have a few options for working this out, without the arguments. You can negotiate with all members of the household and delegate specific jobs to specific people. Or, you can write up a roster and participate in job rotations. Both methods have their merits, it’s up to you to decide.
Homesteads will also benefit from defining the jobs to be done and who is to do them. The whole operation will run much more smoothly if everyone knows what they’re doing and isn’t arguing about who was supposed to do what. Job sharing makes for a much fairer and more harmonious household.
Create a budget
Of all the items on this list, I’m sure “create a budget” is the thing you’ve heard most often.
But that IS for a reason. You can’t pay your bills if you don’t track them and make allowances for them.
You can’t save for things you want if you don’t know how much you’re spending relative to how much you’re earning. If you spend everything you earn, then you especially need to get serious right now and do something about it.
A real adult keeps abreast of their financial situation and take measures to keep it from getting out of hand.
Making a budget can be more difficult if you have fluctuating income, because you have to review it every time you’re paid. But it’s a worthwhile activity. It could be the difference between buying a car with cash or buying one on credit and having to pay it off for the next five (or ten!) years. Seriously.
Make getting dressed simpler
I’m almost certain you’ve got a wardrobe full of clothes and still no idea what to wear each day.
Go through your wardrobe and get rid of things that don’t work for you. Create a capsule wardrobe and even a personal “uniform” if you want to be a super-adult. Trust me, there’s nothing quite like getting up in the morning and not stressing about what to wear.
If you need help doing this, check out my post on creating a capsule wardrobe. It’s quite simple and very cathartic.
Two handy tools for streamlining your life are the morning and evening routines. Having these in place, and making them habits, means less procrastination but not much more mental effort.
Your body goes into autopilot once you get used to your routines. The stuff gets done without too much need for thought. Yet, when you’ve done it, you feel like you’ve already accomplished something for the day.
These routines often include self-care and personal development tasks, but can also have things like cleaning or blogging. Examples of things you might include are meditation, journalling, breakfast, exercise, learning a language, tidying flat surfaces, and dinner prep. Even a short decluttering session. If you’re an aspiring writer, it might be writing 100 words each morning, or before you go to bed.
Organise your diary
Now that you have every aspect of your adult life sorted, bring it all together.
Write everything you’ve planned into your diary. Exercise, cleaning tasks, budget reviews, paperwork routines, and as much of your meal plan that you feel like writing in. Also make sure you’ve added in birthdays, appointments, when your tax return is due, pay days, and anything else you can think of.
I love how well made Filofax products are and how beautiful they look, so that’s what I use for my own diary. I have the Malden A5 Organiser in Kingfisher Blue and I absolutely love it.
An alternative to the diary is creating a weekly or fortnightly schedule and sticking it up on the wall in the kitchen (or wherever you’re likely to look at it).
Open your diary or look at your wall schedule first thing in the morning and check what tasks you’ve set yourself.
Since you’ve changed what you’ll be doing pretty drastically, you won’t be able to manage everything at once. The meal planning element should save you a lot of time right away though, as you don’t have to think about what’s for dinner any more.
You can transition to your new, organised adult life in a number of ways.
You can pick a type of new task to start with, say, cleaning, and integrate that section of your new schedule into your life first. Just work on getting your cleaning done regularly. Once you’ve got that routine going, incorporate the next task type, like exercise.
Doing it this way, you can use habit stacking in your favour, if you so choose. This is one of my favourite methods for getting things done regularly.
The other way you can do it is to just do everything you have scheduled for one day of the week. Say you pick Tuesday.
You do your exercise, cleaning, and paperwork tasks that you’ve scheduled in on Tuesdays. JUST Tuesdays. Once you get into the groove of doing this, you can pick up an extra day or two. Add in extra days slowly, and eventually you’ll be doing your full routine without even noticing it. I prefer this method because you get somewhere with ALL sections of your life at once.
Yayyyyy, now you’re an adult.
Remember to take it easy on yourself and don’t over-commit. By trying to do too much all at once you’ll get overwhelmed, won’t meet your own expectations, and will end up disappointed and unmotivated.
Slowly work yourself up to your full schedule and reward yourself along the way. Met your exercise plans all week? Or completed every task you set for yourself on Tuesday? Give yourself a small reward. You’re more likely to keep up with the boring stuff if you make it easy and make yourself happy after doing it.
I hope I’ve been able to help you get on with being an adult without the great amount of effort it usually seems to take. Let me know in the comments what you do to make adult-ing easier!
Image credit: Scott Umstattd on Unsplash