You’re feeling overwhelmed. You don’t know how to get your life together, and somehow it’s already 2023. You think, “I can’t handle this chaos for one more day!” But it will only get harder if you don’t take action now.
Well, ToughBaby’s got a plan for you. In the 17 action steps below, you’ll find things you can do so that, as 2023 unfolds, you’ll feel more in charge of your life.
We’ll cover everything from decluttering and meditation to using a planner and tackling laundry. Let’s do this!
What Does Getting Your Life Together Mean?
But first – what does it even mean to “get your life together?”
Basically, it means taking care of business and getting stuff done. TCB, baby! It’s the opposite of being a “hot mess.”
For most of us, it looks like this:
- Balancing work and play so that you’re checking off your chores, while still having time to enjoy yourself
- Managing your money like a grownup: paying bills on time, living within your means, avoiding debt, and saving for the future
- Keeping a reasonably clean home that’s well run (i.e., you’re not mortified by drop-in visitors)
- Spending quality time, making memories with family and friends
- Caring for your health through diet, fitness, and good hygiene
- Caring for your spirit through prayer, meditation, and other practices
If your life doesn’t currently look like this, the above might seem a little intimidating. But the trick is to slowly make changes, one little action and “atomic habit” at a time. We slip those habits into routines that we soon don’t even think about. And then those routines become part of a “life management system” that runs our now-awesome lives, almost on autopilot.
“The trick is to slowly make changes, one little action and “atomic habit” at a time.”
Why is this so important? Because it makes life good!
It frees up your time and your headspace to focus on something more meaningful than remembering to scrub the bathtub ring. 1) You’ll be more productive; 2) you’ll have less stress; 3) your relationships will improve; 4) you’ll sleep better at night; and 5) you WILL get your life together – and have more fun.
I want ALL of that. I’m guessing you do, too.
So let’s get crackin’!
17 Simple Action Steps to Get Your Life in Order
- Get a good night’s sleep – I know this is easier said than done, and everyone argues this one. But good rest is non-negotiable for vibrant health, sizzling energy, and a happy attitude. Just one deep-sleep night and its value will be clear. You will feel AMAZING.
But let’s talk about why you’re NOT getting good sleep. Chances are, 1) you’re not going to bed at a decent hour; 2) caffeine is keeping you awake; 3) your thoughts are racing; or 4) your sleep environment is bad.
All of these challenges have solutions – simple ones. And ToughBaby will address them all in her system if you don’t solve them first for yourself. But for now, realize that the best way to help get your life together is to aim for 7+ hours of good quality sleep. Every. Single. Night.
Fight me if you want, but you know I’m right, because you feel lousy and useless when you’re sleep-deprived. Stop doing that to yourself! Is that how you want to live?
Decide when you need to get up in the morning (see then next point) and then work backward. If you’re staying up late for some “me” time, you’ll do much better grabbing it early morning. Trust me – been there, done that.
- Set an alarm – Don’t hate me, but you probably need to set a morning alarm. If you’re rolling out of bed only when forced to, you’re starting the day on someone else’s terms. That’s bad news.
The idea is to start your day on your terms. And that means getting up before anyone needs you or can make demands on your time. Set an alarm, and then enjoy whatever the heck you want or need to do, for however long you need to do it. When the world finally intrudes, you’ll be awake, ready, and in front of the eight ball – not behind it. I promise your body will get used to it! (BTW, if you’re a snooze-button addict – or turn the alarm off while sleeping – set your alarm/phone across the room. By the time you get up to turn it off, you’re already out of bed.)
- Turn off the TV – Constant television can become a habit – and not a good one. We turn it on for Sesame Street, and then it stays on all day. If we like the program, it interrupts our productivity when we sit down to watch. If we don’t like the program, we search for a better one (productivity again) or just put up with it (annoying background noise).
Constant TV burns electricity and brain cells. Remember when we called it the Boob Tube? It hasn’t gotten any smarter. Turn off the TV and turn on some music. Dance. Read a book. Go for a run. Vacuum. 95% of television programming is trash, anyway.
- Do the dishes – I don’t know how, but dirty dishes multiply like rabbits on fertility drugs. Every time you turn around, there’s another one in the sink. And they’re energy vampires: Looking at them is downright depressing. And plowing through a cold, greasy mountain of them is soul-killing.
Want to ruin your day? Just get up in the morning and then immediately grapple through an avalanche of dirty spaghetti dishes so you can make coffee – simply so you can wake up. Or dig through that mountain, mining for a crusty cereal spoon to scrape clean so your kid can have breakfast.
You can’t get your life together with a kitchen buried in dirty dishes. Fact. Here’s a super-duper, easy-peasy fix: Load and start the dishwasher at night, every night. Unload the dishwasher in the morning, every morning. Tada! You pick the times and then make it a rule. You’re welcome.
- Make your bed – For practical (okay, “lazy”) people like me, making the bed every day doesn’t make sense. After all, it’s just going to get messy tonight anyway, right? True. BUT… It’s also true that you’ll sleep a whole lot better if you don’t fight a cage match all night with tangled bedding. Besides, you can literally make your bed in two minutes, and then your bedroom will look like an actual grownup sleeps there.
Another perk is that now you have a big, empty surface for other cleaning/sorting you want to accomplish in your room. Score! Invest in a nice comforter set and splurge a little on good sheets. You’ll be proud to make your bed, and you’ll start looking forward to crawling into it at a normal bedtime. And hey – you deserve it!
- Cut back on alcohol – Many of us enjoy a little nip here and there. And while some alcohol may be fine, there’s definitely a point of diminishing returns. It varies by person, but that line exists. Too much alcohol and/or too often can really hurt our day-to-day. Alcohol is expensive. It wrinkles the skin. It interrupts our sleep patterns, makes us less productive, and loosens our inhibitions. (That morning-after replay can be MIGHTY uncomfortable!) Excess alcohol adds weight and taxes the liver, and it’s the direct cause of way too many stupid arguments, tragic accidents, and ridiculously bad decisions. Only you know your limits. Drink responsibly.
- Drink more water (not coffee, tea, soda, etc.) – You know what? You’re probably dehydrated right now. Most people are. Drinking water is the easiest way to feel better, look better, and live a healthier life – exactly right when you want to get your life together! It can help you lose weight, fight fatigue, improve your mood and skin health, boost your energy levels throughout the day…the list goes on.
But most importantly, it will keep you hydrated so that you have more energy for all the things in life that are important to you. Try for about eight glasses a day (64 ounces), or more if you can. Caffeinated drinks don’t count, as they’re diuretic (make you pee), so they kind of defeat the purpose. Don’t like plain water? Go ahead and add some natural flavoring to make it tasty.
- Exercise every day – Daily exercise is one of the secrets to feeling better in every area of life. It’s not just about losing weight – it’s also about improving strength, endurance, flexibility, and balance. That helps with everything from carrying groceries to putting up Christmas lights. Plus, it’s wicked good for stress reduction, better breathing, and healthy blood pressure. Exercise is the best anti-aging pill around!
Yes, it can be hard to start an exercise program, but showing up is half the battle. Stick with it and momentum will keep you going. There are so many options, it’s just a matter of what works for your interests and lifestyle: local gym, running, video streaming, dance… Even gardening or your favorite hobby sport are great exercises. Or why not try walking around the block after dinner each night? A good goal is 30-45 minutes daily or several times a week. You’ll feel amazing in no time.
- Put down your cell phone – Try this one for an hour, then work up to a few hours at a time: Put your phone across the room or even in another one. The world won’t end if you step away for awhile. Interact completely undistracted with your spouse or your kids. Just being in the same room isn’t enough. If they’ve been whining or nagging for your attention, maybe they actually need it! Seriously. Try increasing the quality of time you spend together, not necessarily the quantity. Your undivided time and attention are priceless to those who love you. And you’ll get just as much in return. Nobody has magical memories of scrolling on their cell phone while sitting on the couch.
- Pray and/or meditate every day – We all need alone time to connect with God, whomever we believe God to be. This is when we’re present with our true selves and the reality of our lives. Often, it’s when we get answers or peace about sticky situations. It is space to breathe in, without pressure or expectation from the world.
Give yourself permission to stop, slow down, and just be present in the moment. You don’t have to be super still or quiet – maybe a walking prayer or an expression of gratitude for something in the day. Some people find it helpful to set a reminder on their phone or computer so that they’re sure to make time.
Remember: God is in the spaces. Leave some breathing room in every day for intentional quiet time without any person, device or other distraction.
- Get a planner – and use it daily – If you want to get your life together, you need a way to stay organized. And a daily planner is essential for keeping track of your life. Write down every single appointment or event, and then check your planner every morning and every night.
You can use a paper planner or download a digital one to your phone or tablet. They come in all forms, shapes and sizes, so try a few till you find one that “fits” and that you’ll actually use. Use it to plan out your day, week, month, and year. Write down those birthdays and anniversaries – then shock everyone with a card in advance, instead of three days late! (Cue the gasps and applause.) Write down when bills are due and avoid late-pay fees. Schedule that eyebrow wax and root canal.
Put your life down on paper, so it stops rattling around in your head! Honest, your anxiety level will drop big time. And you’ll remember when it’s your turn for PTA cookies.
- Get a medical and dental check-up – Annual physicals and dentist exams are a pain. They’re inconvenient, take up our time, and we go in expecting that the doctor is going to drop some sort of horrible news. But honestly, the build-up in our minds is almost always worse than the reality.
Preventive healthcare is one of those “adulting” areas that pay off in giant returns. Exams and screenings can find little problems before they become big ones. And if you’re not feeling top-notch, your care provider can get you on the right track. Don’t wait until something bad happens! Turn off your PuffBaby whine, and go make that appointment right now.
- Improve your diet – And while we’re talking about preventive healthcare… What the heck are you eating, woman!? Do you really respect yourself so little? Would you feed someone else the crap you ingest on the daily?
Junk food and processed food create a vicious circle: We have no energy to cook, so we eat processed convenience foods. And because we eat processed convenience foods, we have to energy to cook. Those foods fill the hunger void, and they (sometimes) taste good. But they’re expensive, low nutrition, processed to death, and filled with sugar, sodium, and preservatives. They’re pretend food.
Do you truly want to get your life together? Eating real food is a good start. Our brains and bodies thrive on real food, good oils, and clean water. Real food is essential for high energy, healthy immune systems, great moods, youthful skin and strong muscles. If you’re not happy with any of those – improve your diet.
Shop mostly in the store’s perimeter (the fresh & refrigerated sections), and eat less from the middle (dried & instant foods). Start by preparing one “real” meal per day. And double the batch: “Cook once, eat twice.” Simple, easy real foods include eggs, fresh fruit, cheese, yogurt, nuts, peanut butter, and veggie sticks. Keep these on hand and reach for them first, when you need a snack.
- Do ALL your laundry – Yes, ALL of it. Every sock, jacket, pillowcase, concert T-shirt, and oven mitt. If it’s not clean enough already to fold and put away, wash it.
Now, I know this is a tall order. I’m well aware of the laundry mountain growing in your basement! But half of it has been there for months, and it needs to go. Now.
Are you serious about getting your life together? Then here’s what you’re going to do:
1) Pick a weekend (or week) to do laundry non-stop.
2) Go through your house and gather every thread of laundry that needs washing. (Or if you’d rather, just gather it all up and head to a laundromat for one giant Wash-A-Thon.)
3) Make sure your supply of detergent, bleach, and softener are well stocked.
4) Start pulling from the pile and get washing. Begin with the stuff that’s been waiting the longest and do that first. Why? Because you don’t really need it, or it wouldn’t be sitting there. We’re done procrastinating on it! Once it’s clean, pack it up as a thrift store donation and GET RID OF IT. Don’t bother saving it for your garage sale or to sell on eBay! Be generous and take the tax deduction instead. Breathe a gigantic sigh of relief that it’s gone. Now you have 20 square feet of extra space.
5) Keep the washer and dryer going until ALL laundry is done. Here are two rules:
a) Each load is folded immediately from the dryer, and
b) Each load is immediately put away.
You can do this! Enjoy the shrinking laundry pile and the growing sense of accomplishment. Look at you, ToughBaby!
6) Going Forward: Load and start the washer at night, every night. Dry, fold, and put away that load in the morning, every morning. You pick the times and then make it a rule. (Wow! Am I having deja vu? This kinda sounds like the dishwasher thing.) Your stress level will drop by 1000%, your basement will be usable again, and your family will actually have clothes they can wear.
- Reduce clutter – Decluttering is such a giant topic, ToughBaby will cover it in depth later. But for now, just concentrate on getting rid of stuff. Seriously, we all have WAY more than we need. If you’re trying to get your life together, a cluttered house will hold you back. Just think of it: We need to sort, store and maintain all of our clothes, dishes, toys, books, electronics, craft supplies, bedding, knickknacks, and a hundred other categories!
Here’s a good rule of thumb: If you can’t manage all your stuff, you have too much.
Start here: Every day, grab a shopping bag and walk through your house with it. Add anything (in good, working condition) you really don’t need, use or love anymore. Donate this to the thrift store. Consider also donating extra blankets and jackets – especially in colder months. Shelters could really use them, and you’ll free up lots of space by donating those bulky items.
Toys are another major category to target. Donate the toys your kids have outgrown, and also store some away to swap out later. Kids can only play with so many toys at a time. The rest become clutter for you to trip over and pick up! Recycle old plasticware or use it to organize a junk drawer. Consider the value of what you allow into your life and your home. Everything should earn its place somehow.
- Remove toxic relationships – Toxic relationships are the worst. They suck up your energy, make you feel bad, and leave you a self-doubting shell of who you used to be. You deserve better than that.
It doesn’t matter if your toxic person is a family member, friend, or romantic partner – everyone deserves happiness and peace of mind! If someone makes your life harder instead of better, then it’s time for them to go. Nobody gets a front seat in your life just because they exist.
You might need to simply limit interaction with the toxic person – or maybe even cut ties altogether. This isn’t selfish, it’s self-respect. If you won’t take care of yourself, who will? Set firm and healthy boundaries for what you’ll allow and what you won’t. If someone can’t respect them, it’s their decision.
Look. You’re working hard to be the best possible version of yourself. You’re putting something good into the world. Don’t let some Toxic Hater pull you down. Haters gonna hate. You don’t have time for that drama.
- Feed your head – Life is too short to stand still. And who wants to, anyway? Standing water becomes stagnant – as so does a person who never grows. Make it your mission to always be learning, always improving. Your life means something!
Read or watch something positive, educational, or inspiring every day. Fill your head with good stuff. You’ll become wiser, think more clearly, and make better decisions. It will also be easier to ignore the negative people and situations in your life. And finally, you’ll know that you’re moving toward something good, and nothing can stop you then.
Conclusion: You Can Put Your Life in Order!
Whether you’re just starting to think about how to get your life together in 2023 or are already well on the way, these 17 simple action steps will put you on the right track. The key is all in how we set our intentions. It’s a matter of defining our priorities and then taking small but consistent actions that move us toward them day by day.
You won’t be perfect at this by any means, and you don’t need to be! But if you work on this list throughout 2023, I promise you’ll be rewarded with amazing results.