Life can definitely feel messy sometimes. We may be knocked-off our usual routine due to unexpected events and struggle to find a firm footing. We may be feeling overwhelmed, our life seemingly out-of-control. Especially in the midst of this pandemic... I'm sure life feels a little messy for each and every one of us.
I want to first remind you that having an unorganized life isn't a bad thing and not only that, but it's normal. Many of the online faces we watch are projecting a specific image they want to show; no one really has their life together, and everyone faces the unexpected now and again.
Currently, my life isn't too messy, but it definitely isn't as structured as it used to be. When I stayed at home for months during the stay-at-home order, I was forced to give myself some sort of routine so that I wouldn't simply sit around the house. But recently, that routine isn't probable anymore and I've been violently pushed back into the world, my plate piled high with swim lessons, work, upcoming school, possible trips, and so on. I also have roommates moving out, and two more moving in, so I'm getting adjusted to that. And because I go home every weekend, I'm trying to make plans for my cat, Tots, for the next month. There's a lot on my mind, to say the least.
But, I'm learning to embrace the mess and live through it, and even more so, enjoy it. I'm coming to realize that life can just be messy sometimes, and there's not always something we can do about it. Of course, I'm not sure what, in your life, is causing the mess. You may be able to control it, or you may not. Regardless, we can all work in small ways to make our lives feel a little more enjoyable in chaotic times, and in this post, I will be sharing some examples of how we can do just that!
4 things to do when life feels messy
1. Don't worry about the mess more than you need to
When we are constantly focused on all of the tasks we need to get done and just how unorganized everything feels, we may lose focus on all that's going right for us. We may be so focused on the bad, on the mess, on how tired we are, that may forget to enjoy the little moments such as the morning coffee, and the comforting time with friends.
If the situation is out of your control, then don't worry about it more than you need to. For example, I have four swim lessons that I have to go home for. Because I can't just avoid going home, I shouldn't sit around and stress about all the packing I have to do. Instead, I can accept that I have to drive home and then teach swim lessons for two hours, and I can even go as far as to change my mindset and feel excited about it! If there's no way around it, might as well feel excited for it, right?
If you can control the mess, perhaps cancel some plans or rearrange your schedule. Maybe you can cut out a few tasks and prioritize a few others, and you may come to find that your schedule is much simpler.
2. Keep moving forward
If your life is feeling unorganized and busy, keep on moving. Rather than procrastinate or worry, get up and get started, because regardless, you're going to have to face it. So, might as well just deal with it! This may sound harsh, but this mindset has helped me a ton to get through things I'm not really looking forward to.
For example, I felt exhausted last weekend after morning swim lessons and working out, but I still had afternoon swim lessons and plans that evening. I wanted to sit around and complain about my busy day, but instead, I urged myself to keep going, snatching an energy drink, and reframing my thoughts. I also planned 30 minutes of me-time after the afternoon lessons and before my evening plans, which was a warm bath and a cup of coffee. I got myself excited for the me-time, and because of that, I found that I was excited about the lessons, too, because completing the lessons meant I could come home and relax.
It's easy to want to avoid the mess, but when we get up and pave our way to the finish line, we can get it done faster, leaving more time for relaxation.
Also, while it's important to schedule out your day to an extent, avoid over-scheduling and time-blocking. While these may help you to make more time for things, they end up stressing me out, personally, because oftentimes things come up and it knocks me off my flow. Have an overall plan for the day, but don't stand too rigid in your plans, as they could potentially fall through and leave you feeling overwhelmed.
3. Carve out free time whenever possible
As I mentioned in the tip above, I made sure to carve out free time in my busy day to relax and recharge. I can assure you that somewhere in that unorganized day is an ounce of free time where you can put away your phone, turn off the noise and the racing thoughts, and find things that you enjoy and that revitalize you. Return to your safe space, or wherever makes you calm. Take some time to deep-breathe, and when you're ready, get back to work.
Carve out free time like it's a priority, because it is. Maybe plan out your week or day centering around your free time, not the other way around, so that you can be sure that you have a moment or two to enjoy being where you are. Trust me, I've made the mistake of not including free time in my day, that man, is that stressful.
One thing that helps me assure myself that I have free time is to have a morning and evening routine. Right now, each morning, I've been practicing a routine I call 101010. I stretch for 10 minutes, meditate for 10 minutes, and journal for 10 minutes, and it has been really helping me set my mindset for the day and give myself that bit of free time. My evening routine isn't as structured, but I always make sure to turn off my phone and do some light stretching before turning out the lights. Doing this assures that I will, at some point, have time to myself.
Check out my post, My simple and productive morning routine or 5 things to add to your morning routine and why you should start one for more ideas on morning routines!
For an interesting outlook on routines, check out my post Morning routines & productivity: helpful or harmful? You never know--it could be your routines and schedule that is making you feel more stressed.
4. Write down everything you need to do/everything going on
I wasn't sure whether or not to include this tip, but I do know it helps some people. I love lists, but occasionally they can stress me out even more, so be sure to avoid stressing if you decide to write down everything you need to do. Instead, look at each task without judgment or worry, and approach them with an open mind and a few ways to tackle them.
If you feel overwhelmed to the point that moving forward or rescheduling isn't an option, take a few moments to jot down all that you need to do, what's coming up, and how you're feeling. Looking at things from the outside can help you to reevaluate the situation and prioritize everything going on. Maybe excercise is important, but not as important as that homework assignment. Maybe you need to go to the store for coffee, but perhaps it'll save more time, and be more of a treat, to run through the drive-through at Starbucks. .Try minimizing your to-do list as best as you can. Figure out what works best for you, and remind yourself that you've got this!
Everyone's life gets messy from time to time. As I'm writing this, I am mentally preparing to pack up for home, preparing Tots for the weekend, and planning out today's swim lesson schedule. But, I am working in small ways to return myself to this moment, and avoid worrying too much about it. Things come up, and we may feel like we can't handle it all, but we can, and we will. My best advice, really, is to make the most of every situation, every upcoming event or scattered week, because those moments are what make life, life.
For some tips on stress and dealing with mess, check out these posts: