One of the most important questions you can ask yourself (and should, frequently) is: based on my daily habits, where will I be in five years? It's very easy to mentally brush over our habitualness in lieu of an illusion about what it will (someday) mean. "Oh, 10 more years at the office and I'll have a promotion, this is so worth it!" But is it really worth it, to spend 10 years of your life doing something you don't like that much... only to spend the next 10 doing it some more?
The reality is that what you are doing today, in this moment, in the next hour, tomorrow morning... that is your life. This is it. The day-to-day of your existence is what it is, and you have to make a conscious choice to enjoy it in the moment, rather than waiting for what's to come without doing anything to get there first. So here are 18 little ways to adjust yourself to make the most of those minutes and hours; all the ways you don't realize you're unintentionally self-sabotaging, and all the little ways you can make things that much easier for yourself.
Savor Your Coffee In The Morning
Read something that isn't your email or Twitter feed. Sitting and sipping for just 10 minutes in the morning will change the entire tone of your day.
Keep A Journal With You At All Times
You don't need to storybook your life cohesively, but you should write down quotes, lyrics, thoughts that strike you. You'll end up with a collection of ideas that say more about you than you would have consciously realized, and you'll be able to reflect on your personal mental, emotional evolution.
Keep Your Phone Out Of The Bedroom
Buy an old fashioned alarm clock and put your phone on the kitchen counter to charge. It's easier to fall asleep, it's sexier when you have someone over, and it's healthier to remind yourself it is not, in fact, your life sustaining force.
Keep A Gratitude Journal
Write down the three things that brought you the most satisfaction, and the three things that brought you the most stress. Over time, you will be able to see the patterns and adjust accordingly.
Practice Minimalism, Not Just In What You Keep, But In What You Consume
If you're wondering where all your extra money is going and how you keep ending up with this extra, random crap around your apartment, little, mindless, daily purchases are usually the culprit. Be mindful of what you bring into your home each day.
Clean As You Dirty
Do your laundry at the same time on the same day each week. Clean the dishes as soon as you're done eating. It's not always the most glamorous or desirable practice, but it prevents the once-a-week my-place-is-an-absolute-wreck freak out.
Pay With Cash
Take out how much you intend to spend at the beginning of the month or two-week pay cycle and keep your credit cards at home. Not only will you actually, physically stop yourself from over-spending, but you'll become more and more conscious of how each and every $20 slips away once it's physically out of your hands.
Cook Meals One Day A Week And Then Freeze Them
It probably close to impossible to manage a full-time job, families, commitments, a full night's sleep and a home-cooked meal and clean kitchen every night, so take the stress out by cooking on Sunday, cleaning up all the dishes afterwards, and freezing/storing your dinners and lunches for the week.
Read A Little Every Day About Something You Want To Improve In Your Life
If it's too difficult to get yourself enamored in a fiction book for 20 minutes on the train home from work, flip open to a book that will teach you three ways to more effectively handle your impossible coworkers, or look up some articles online. Read something that actually makes you a better person by the time close the page or ex out the tab.
Buy Ingredients, Not Packaged Food
It's infinitely cheaper, healthier, and a lot easier to create meals than you think. Mix and match a few of your favorite meats, fishes, pastas or vegetables and create dishes that are all your own. (It's really that easy.)
Change The Lighting In Your Space
Burn candles at night, replace your overhead fluorescents with warmly lit lamps. It is the simplest change and yet has the most intense effect on making your space seem calmer and homier.
Schedule Your Procrastination
Yes, really. Unless you allow for some give in your schedule, you'll end up consistently failing yourself. You are not going to be productive every minute of every day of your life. If you pre-plan your time to just sit, kick back, and do nothing, you won't consider it time lost or a reflection of your lazy character; just time you recognize you need to recoup and relax.
Do Something Outside Every Day
Weather permitting, go for a walk, listen to music and take photos. Read on a bench, or outside a café. Run if you need to get a workout in, or hike if you're close enough to some trails. Just make sure you're getting out, breathing fresh air, and not existing under a roof at all times.
Pack Your Bag The Night Before, And Lay Out Your Outfit As Well
Take the guesswork and stress out of your morning routine; eliminate the need to be running around your apartment grabbing a water bottle and your keys and your wallet you left on the couch last night. Smooth over the little, unnecessary bumps in your routine.
Keep Your Emergency Essentials In A Little Makeup Bag And Make Sure It Goes With You Everywhere
A to-go pack of ibuprofen, a tampon, a condom, the phone numbers of your closest friend or family member and a towing service (in case your phone were to die), Band-Aids for blisters, etc. You will need these things sooner rather than later. You will thank yourself eventually.
Stop Engaging With People Who Bring Nothing But Unnecessary Stress To Your Life
"Engaging," so as to say, you can communicate with them if they are a co-worker, respond to a text if they are a friend, but don't actually put any mental/emotional energy toward them, and certainly don't extend the interaction anywhere beyond what's necessary.
Make Sure You Have A Real Conversation With At Least One Person, At Least Once A Day
Call someone, even just for 20 minutes. Have a Skype date, or sit and truly talk with your partner or roommate if you can. Connect with someone.
Every Time You Feel Stressed, Anxious, Or Annoyed, Write Down Exactly Why
"Because this is not the life I want to be living." "Because this is not how I want to spend my time." "Because I should be doing better." Do not bottle up your emotions. If you let them compound too much, you'll implode eventually. Air out your grievances honestly... at least with yourself.