Note: This post was inspired by episode three of “Conversations With Creatives” with Abdul Qiyam Muhammad, and the book “Atomic Habits” by James Clear.
We’re nearing the end of the year, and we’ve spent most of it adjusting to a new normal. Not only that, but this is the time of year where, for some of us, we’re adjusting to classes or maybe even starting a new job. Now is a great time to think about the best way to manage your life.
Typically you hear people talking about time management, right? While that’s definitely a factor, your life is the thing you have the most control over, so it’s important to decide how best to manage that.
When we talk about life management, we’re talking about what it is your want to accomplish, how to get there, what do you want to plan for, and so much more. So, let’s talk about some ways you can manage your life for better productivity, self-improvement and balance.
1. Come up with a rock solid planning system
We all know the saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” How many times have you been the victim of failing to plan? I know I have. And sometimes, it may be that you really are planning, but whatever method you’re using just isn’t working for you.
The best thing to do is figure out what part of your life needs planning the most. Is your schedule getting away from you? Is your mental to-do list piling up? Are events and tasks slipping through the cracks? Instead of scribbling things on random pieces of paper, or making mental notes of things, try putting events on a calendar. Try getting a planner––digital or paper––and write down the three most important tasks for the day.
Finding a planning system that works for you is not an overnight process. It will take trial and error. You will have to try digital planning vs. paper planning, apps, calendars, and various systems. But don’t give up. Once you find what works for you, you will have a greater handle on what needs to be done.
2. Create a list of goals
One reason people end up feeling like they’re not accomplishing anything is because they haven’t set out anything to accomplish in the first place. As you put together your planning system, think about what it is that you want to accomplish in a day, a week, or a month. If one of your goals is to stop eating out so much and to cook more at home, then you can find time in your schedule to cook a healthy meal.
Don’t bombard yourself with a bunch of goals that will leave you feeling overwhelmed. Find just a few areas that you’d like to improve in, and turn them into attainable goals.
3. Build better habits
The easiest way to accomplish your goals is to build habits that will help you attain them. For example, if you want to cook more at home, one habit could be to avoid fast food restaurants while you’re out. Another habit could be to plan out a list of meals you could make during the week, or to buy ingredients for cooking when you’re out grocery shopping.
Your habits don’t have to be anything big or major. They’re small actions that you repeat, which helps you to reach whatever you’re aspiring for.
Another example: If your goal is to have a cleaner home, then one of your habits could be to put things away once you’re done using them, or to make your bed once you wake up. These little habits stack up into big differences that can help you to reach your goals.
Of course you don’t want to try and stuff yourself with 15 new habits each day. Then your focus would be all over the place. Try implementing one at a time, slowly, and see how this works for you.
4. Do what you love & take care of yourself
We all know taking time to relax is one of the most important things. Be sure to include some time to play that instrument you love, or watch an episode of your favorite show, or talk to your family. This not only acts as downtime, but it’s also time to recharge your batteries. Constantly being in overdrive can take a toll on your mental state and can even cause you to neglect yourself. Don’t forget to do your nails, cut your hair, or pamper yourself. If you don’t take care of yourself mentally and physically, who will?
5. Don’t forget your spirit
Lastly, but CERTAINLY not least, don’t forget to care for your spirit. Praying is one of the most important things you can do and should be the way you start and end your day. It’s a way to recharge and reflect. It’s also a great time to practice gratitude for everything you have, even if things aren’t going well. It reminds you that even if circumstances aren’t as great as they could be, you’re still blessed with so much and you have the capacity to make things better.
One of the most important things to remember as you set out to manage your life is that your system won’t look like someone else’s. We’re all individuals with different needs and wants, so while your system may look similar to someone else’s don’t expect it to be exactly the same.
Also, remember to be fluid. As circumstances change, so will your system. If you get a new set of classes or a new work schedule, it’s likely that you’ll have to make some adjustments. And sometimes, you may just want to try something new. It’s okay to make adjustments and to change things to fit you as you grow and as time goes on.