11 Ways to Be a Happier and More Efficient Grown-Up
When you’re in school, the focus is all on learning. Studying for a test, writing a paper, researching a lab project—all of these assignments are meant to instill useful knowledge into our minds. But some of the most important knowledge is acquired after graduation day, through trial and error, as you stumble through the twists and turns of adulthood. We’ve definitely stumbled quite a bit, but in the process, we’ve discovered a few life hacks that enable us to live happier, more efficient adulthoods. Scroll through to see how you can improve your grown-up game as well!
It’s terribly annoying when your perfectly scheduled day is derailed by something unexpected, like a ripped blouse or an enormous coffee stain before an important meeting. The best way to keep your day on track, despite any mishaps, is to have a "go bag"—a mini bag within your bag that has anything you might need when disaster strikes. We keep a Tide pen, safety pins, floss, a nail file, a lint roller, lip balm, and tweezers in ours. Plus, having all of your necessities in one place makes swapping handbags so much easier!
While it may take up an hour or two of your Sunday, prepping your food on the weekend can save you a lot of time and energy during the rest of the week. Do your grocery or farmer's market shopping on the weekend and plan out your daily meals so at 8 p.m. on a Wednesday, you don’t have to scrounge for dinner options or order unhealthy take-out. We recommend sautéing your onions, boiling your quinoa, and grilling your protein before Monday morning rolls around so you can build a healthy, balanced work lunch every morning in a matter of seconds. Save yourself the unappetizing task of making lunch before your morning coffee.
The older we get, the faster time flies. Which is why if you don’t schedule all of your doctor’s appointments on a recurring basis, you’ll often miss necessary check-ups. We recommend scheduling all of your annual doctor’s appointments in the same month every year so you never forget them and always stay as healthy as possible. We book all of our appointments in September, just like the good old days when we used to have our check-up before the start of school.
It takes 10 minutes a day to keep your home and/or work area tidy. Eliminate clutter and prevent your dishes from piling up in the sink by making this 10-minute tidy-up as automatic as brushing your teeth. Both your physical space and your headspace will be clearer.
Mornings are critical “you” time. It’s your time to exercise, read the paper, or tackle your monster to-do list before the day gets away from you. Opening your inbox first thing in the morning will only do one thing: force you to deviate from your morning routine and, ultimately, extend your to-do list before you’ve managed to cross off a single task. Do yourself a favor and keep your first waking hour or two off Gmail.
We’re big fans of writing out the following day’s to-do list the night before. But it’s more important to identify the one or two critical things you need to get done the following day than listing out every small task in a nonprioritized list. Identifying your priorities for the following day before you go to sleep will cause you to wake up feeling grounded rather than overwhelmed by everything you need to accomplish.
Have you ever opened an email or text message, mentally tagged it as a “respond later” item, and then never thought about it again? We certainly have! But one simple life trick has changed the flow of our lives, and greatly reduced our endless to-do lists. It’s called the “touch it once” philosophy. Touching it once means that as soon as you touch something (i.e. get a parking ticket, open a Paperless Post invite, etc.), you deal with it. After one touch, you’re finished. No need to think about it again. Abide by this rule and your life will become instantly more efficient.
Celebratory or weekend activities don’t always need to revolve around unhealthy activities like heavy drinking or poor eating. Start rewarding yourself with a Saturday-morning massage or a hike with a friend, as opposed to a crazy Friday night out that leaves you hungover and massively unproductive for most of Saturday.
You’ve heard it before: Sleep is critical to leading a happy, productive life. But more often than not, it’s the first (or second, after working out), thing to go when life becomes overwhelming. However, depriving yourself of sleep is a surefire way to sabotage your productivity. According to Charles Czeisler, a professor of sleep medicine at Harvard Business School, “24 hours without sleep or a week of sleeping four or five hours a night induces an impairment equivalent to a blood alcohol level of 0.1 percent.”
In today’s world, being unreachable is largely unheard of. A person's efficiency is often measured by how quickly they can respond to an email, organize a team, or complete a project. Making your phone your digital office means being able to accomplish all of these tasks while on the go. Our favorite apps for having the most efficient phone in the world are Asana, Slack, One Note, and Google Calendar.
Most productive people have a routine, a personal system that makes things automatic and doesn’t tax their finite supply of willpower. Having a personal system in place helps you be more proactive as opposed to being reactive. How do you develop a personal system? Think about your activities. What do you do that produces the most success? What do you do that inhibits your success the most? Apply “80/20” thinking to these answers. Spend 80 percent of your time doing that which is most productive and 20 percent of your time doing that which is less so.
Do you have a life hack for adulthood? Share your tips with us in the comments!