6 Small Ways to Take Control of Your Life
Feeling organized and in control doesn't come naturally to me, so it’s a daily struggle to keep the house running smoothly–getting everyone out the door with minimal yelling/reminding, the house picked up, meals prepared, bills paid, etc. I want to be one of those badass women who just have their stuff together! I don’t have the magic answer, but what I do have is my trusty list of six small things to feel more in control of my life. They actually work and they each take under 15 minutes each!
You don’t need to do everything on this list to feel a little bit more in charge of your life. Pick one today and pay attention to how awesome you feel once it’s done.
The feeling is so addictive…they are like six little fifteen minute pick-me-ups that will change your life!
6 Small Ways to Take Control of Your Life
1. Clean Out Your Purse
How often do you do a full-on purse clean out? I’m not talking about grabbing the handful of receipts floating around in there. I’m talking about taking everything out, putting it in triage (toss/keep/file or put away) and dumping out the crumbs that always manage to find their way to the bottom of your bag. It’s startling (alarming?) at how much crap actually comes out when you do a “dump”.
After I do the triage and throw away the trash, I sometimes I do a wipe down depending on how dirty and how long it’s been.
Then I put my essentials back in: wallet, sunglasses, pens, etc. I restock things like medicine bottles, first aid supplies, lip products, etc.
2. Wake Up Earlier
Give yourself the gift of extra time by getting your sleeping self out of bed earlier. BOOM. Just like that, you magically just created more time to get your to-do list done. Set your alarm for 30 minutes earlier and actually get out of bed! It always feels good at the moment to sleep a little bit longer, but getting up earlier has a huge impact–it’s like you’re getting a jump start on your slower, groggier self. Trust me. It works.
Start small with setting the alarm for just 15 minutes earlier. Then build your way up.
Use this extra time to prepare for your day or just have some “me time”. Do something for yourself before the craziness of the morning starts. You could read that book you’ve been meaning to start or make yourself a cup of coffee and scan through your Twitter feed or get out a fresh sheet of paper and jot down your most important tasks of the day.
Even better: extra time means you can sneak in a workout. I hear you groaning. I know, I know. I HATE working out in the morning. My body needs time to wake up. But knocking a workout off of the ol’ to-do list is empowering.
It’s true what they say: you’ll have more energy for the rest of the day. One thing knocked off your list before anyone else is up? Huge motivator!
Give yourself the gift of more time. You deserve it! To quote Oprah, you need to put “doing something for yourself, on your to-do list.”
Try it. I dare you!
3. Start Your Morning the Night Before
Speaking of mornings, get a jumpstart on your morning by doing anything you can to get yourself prepared. To use a bit from Seinfeld, usually “nighttime guy” gets tired and lazy and says, oh, “morning guy” can pick out clothes, clean the kitchen and prepare for breakfast!
No problem. And then “morning guy” gets saddled with all the tasks nighttime guy didn’t want to do!
If you plan to workout, put out your workout clothes so you’re not stumbling around in your morning stupor. After you clean the kitchen at the end of the day, set out what you’ll need for breakfast the next morning.
I recently started putting out the kids vitamins, medications, glasses, bowls and spoons along with a copy of their morning routine before I go up for bed. It feels AMAZING to come down in the morning and breakfast is already prepped. “Morning Girl” really appreciates the work that “Nighttime Girl” put in.
You could also work on your to-do list for the next day. Anything you can do to have the ball already rolling for your day will start you off on the “right foot”.
4. Create a Morning and Evening Checklist For Your Kids
What’s this “morning routine” of which you speak? I created a morning and evening checklist for my kids when they were still in school. LIFE CHANGING.
Are you like me and you think your kids will just know what to do every morning? They are now 10 and 12. You’d think they’d have the hang of this: get dressed, eat breakfast, pack backpack thing.
Yet, they still can’t seem to remember what they need to get done. And this hasn't changed since we've started homeschooling. While are mornings and days are more relaxed, by design, we still have things to do!
The problem in our house is that they distract each other! With the checklist it is very clear what they need to do and instead of me screaming down from my room and asking, “do you have your shoes on?”, “is your backpack packed?” I just need to say: “Where are you on your checklist?” “Are you done with your checklist?”
Plus, they really like checking things off of their list. I just insert a copy into one of those plastic sheet protectors and they use a magic erase marker so that we can reuse the sheet over and over.
Funny story: I had been using a morning checklist with much success for a couple of months. Our evenings were still kind of haphazard and unorganized. I was tucking Townes in after a particularly harried night and he said, “Mom, you really need to make us a nighttime checklist.”
This told me two things: 1. they really do like structure (mom was right!) and 2. they can see that I’m completely unorganized.
Hopefully my checklists will provide some inspiration for you--they are really old. I’m no graphic artist, and these are tailored to my kids, but if you want to download them, click here for the morning routine and click here for the nighttime routine.
5. Pack Lunches the Night Before
It took me about two years to figure this one out. I guess I could have lumped it into number three, but this one simple change really made a big difference in our lives, so I thought it deserved its own bullet point. Waiting to pack lunches in the morning used to be half the reason we missed the bus!
Sometimes I dread making lunches after a long day and cooking and cleaning up after everyone. But mostly I look at it as therapeutic. I turn on a podcast and just get down to business.
I pack lunches for the morning and clean the kitchen. HUGE IMPACT for not a lot of effort.
It’s like a gift to myself–a gift from “nighttime girl” to “morning girl”!
6. Clean Out Your Car
This is in the same line of thinking as cleaning out your purse. It’s amazing how even when it’s just me (and the pups) running errands during the week, the car can get messy (understatement).
Add in weekends with the kids and geez, it turns into a real dump after a while! I know it seems like a much more daunting task than your purse clean out, but you’d be surprised at how little effort and time it takes if you keep up with it.
Taking two bags out to the car and loading one with trash and the other with things to take inside is usually all it takes. And get the kids involved–it’s mostly their crap, anyway!
If you’re feeling really motivated, go to the car wash and get her cleaned inside and out. I did that recently and it was like getting a new car!
Trust me, driving a nice, clean, car really brightens the mood–it just makes your entire life feel better–kind of like you’ve got this whole “life thing” under control.
Plus, you’re more likely to try to keep it in this “new car” state, prolonging all the good feelings. (It definitely helps to have your minions doing the dirty work ;)
So that’s it–my 6 small ways that help me feel more in control of my life!
Sometimes things get a little crazy around here, but doing one (or more!) of the things on this list allows me to put a hash mark on my side of the “win” column and take back some of the control in my life.
It’s me against the chaos and those small victories are what carry me through the day.
Do you have any easy tasks that help you feel more in control? I'm all about life hacks these days, so school me in the comments :)