Difficult but Important Things for Adulting
Photo by Jamie O’Sullivan on Unsplash
#Adulting. Maybe this is a new word or concept for you — according to a quick web search, its use as a word seemed to start around 2008-2009 among Millennials who were describing new tasks they were facing as a new adult, but the term has taken off since then to be used by many people who face the challenges of being an adult in this world.
Since you’ve become a widower and single parent in the past year, the term “adulting” has become a regular part of your conversation, in part because you’re facing some challenges that you haven’t faced before, and also in part because there are times when you just don’t feel like doing whatever needs to be done.
You’ll offer up excuses, usually centered around the trauma, grief, depression, and/or anxiety in your life.
But then you remember that you have a middle schooler who not only relies on you, but also is watching you, and that’s often pretty good motivation to “put your big boy pants on” (as a good friend would often say) and get stuff done.
You have also found it helpful to list out the things you don’t really like to do, but find that you benefit from them if you do them. When you get to those moments where you don’t feel like doing something, you can reference the list and compare the benefit to your lack of motivation. Usually the benefit wins out in the end.
Some of these things may seem pretty basic in an adult’s life, but from experience, under the right circumstances, there are days when you just won’t want to do them.
So here is the list:
Showering 🚿 🧼
You may not always feel like doing it, but you always feel better and cleaner after you do. It doesn’t even have to be a very long shower, and you can adjust the water temperature according to your mood — cold water is refreshing, invigorating, and motivating, even if it’s just for a few seconds at the end of the shower.
Getting dressed 👕 👖 🧦
It may be easier to stay in pajamas or yesterday’s clothes, but you feel better once you’re in clean clothes and you’re more prepared for those unexpected interactions or occasions when you need to leave the house on short notice.
Exercising 🚶♂️🏃♂️ 🚴♂️
It doesn’t have to be intense, strenuous, or time-consuming, but you feel better if you’ve had some type of exercise.
Also, this is an area where consistency compounds — the more regularly and consistently you exercise, the easier it becomes, the more energy it produces, and the better you feel.
Getting out of the house 🚶♂️ 🚙 🏡
Since you work from home (and would categorize yourself as an introvert for the double-whammy), it can be too easy for you to sit in front of your computer 👨💻 for the entire time you’re awake, but you benefit (and so does your son) from at least getting out of the house for some period of time. This can be as simple as sitting on the front porch, sitting in a lawn chair in my yard, going for a drive in the car, or going for a walk. Getting some sunshine ☀️ is an added bonus.
Eating well 🍎 🥕 🍳
You can easily lose track of time, or just eat whatever is easy to get (or order for delivery, thanks to DoorDash, UberEats, and the many pizza places 🍕 near the house).
But you feel better if you eat good food, and if you eat on a regular schedule.
Recording expenses 💰 💳
This is closely related to the above mention of food delivery — it can be easy to order food for delivery and end up spending 5 to 10 times more on a meal than you would if you had just prepared something at home.
But if you record my daily expenses, it starts to become more obvious when you’re letting yourself get lazy and spend too much. You’ll find myself asking, “I spent how much on food delivery in the last few days??”
Processing mail ✉️
Yes, the percentage of junk mail to your overall mail delivery is high — maybe even 75%? And yet it’s so easy to just set it all down somewhere and let it stack up.
But if you take a few minutes and toss 🚮 or shred the junk mail, then it’s easier to organize the mail that really needs your attention.
A tool that has helped you organize the mail that actually needs your attention is the Sunday Box.
This also applies to papers that your son brings home from school. Decide what can be tossed (announcements, etc.), what needs your response (permission slips), and what can be scanned with your iPhone and archived to Dropbox.
Weekly or Monthly
You are now a single parent on a single income, and unexpected expenses can happen all too easily (see August 2021 🤦♂️).
However, your income should be able to provide us with a comfortable lifestyle, so if you budget well each month and stick to that, you will not only have what you need, but also increase savings for unexpected expenses (and build a better credit score).
Grocery shopping 🛒
For a number of years now, you did all of the grocery shopping for the family. Since the pandemic started, however, you’ve been more reluctant to go to the grocery store yourself.
Thankfully, there are several services — such as Shipt, Instacart, and DoorDash — that now make it easy to order through a mobile app for curbside pickup or even delivery to the house.
This supports your important item of eating well — you can make sure the house is stocked with good food — and the important item of budgeting — a week’s worth of groceries is far less than a week’s worth of meal deliveries.
It’s an unexciting, never-ending task, but it’s important if you want clean clothes to wear.
It’s also important if you want to avoid the all-too-easy option of buying something new (i.e., underwear or socks) because nothing is clean.
You were able to buy new laundry machines earlier this year (yeah, that was a party 🥳), so that makes the job a little bit nicer. And keep experimenting with different processes and methods for getting laundry put away — rolling instead of folding, using shelves instead of dresser drawers, etc. — to simplify the laundry process from beginning to end.
Cleaning and decluttering 🧽 🪣 🗑
Here is another unexciting, never-ending task, and yet you know that you enjoy a neat, clean house, and you function better within order.
There are some good resources in this area from Organize365.
And a couple of quotes to keep in mind:
“Don’t just put it down; put it away.”
“The fewer things you have, the less there is and the easier it is to clean.”
Yes, minimalism is definitely of interest.
Building routines and scheduling 📆 🔁
In the past, you might have avoided this, or perhaps haven’t needed it, but now you’re finding that if you’re going to be successful in a number of these areas, you need to build routines around them, or schedule them on your calendar and make sure you keep that appointment with yourself.
There are many resources available on the idea of performing a weekly review.
And here’s a favorite acronym from the past few years:
START = Schedule The Action Required Today
Actually Getting It Done
OK, you’ve identified areas where you either need to keep the good momentum going, or you need to make improvements. But one of the interesting things you’ve found out about my “new” self in these past 9 months is that you need to be a list-maker. You need to write stuff down, or put it into an app.
So let’s talk about that — a few tools to help support these items above.
When you started with basic habit tracking, you used an app on your iPhone called Streaks. It’s relatively inexpensive — $4.99 — and the basic idea is to put in those habits you want to track on a regular basis and check them off as “completed” once you’ve done them. Over time, you can see if your streak of desirable habits is successful or facing challenges.
But then you found you wanted to do more than just mark them as “completed.” Sometimes you wanted to make notes, or track other information (such as specific details on what foods you ate that day, also known as a “Food Log”).
You’ve tried a number of tools and apps in the productivity or personal knowledge management (PKM) space, including Evernote, Todoist, Dynalist, Workflowy, Roam Research, and Obsidian.
Evernote is still a good basic filing system — it’s so easy to scan a document into Evernote, or copy a web page into Evernote, or type into their desktop app or mobile app. And once something is in Evernote, it’s searchable. If you run a web search on Evernote, you’ll find lots of varying opinions on the tool, its history, its changes, and its future, but keep that subscription for the foreseeable future — it’s just that helpful.
Currently, your primary tool for ❇️ your important things ❇️ is Obsidian. There are many reasons to use this tool, and there are many articles available about how people are using Obsidian.
For this discussion, your focus is a Daily Note that has:
- your Daily Habits (e.g., take your medicine, feed the dog, take a shower, etc.)
- your Food Log (what you ate that day, where you got it from, how it made you feel, etc.)
- the Weather for that day
- your Daily Journal (your thoughts, actions, interactions, experiences, etc. for the day that you want to remember or record)
- what you Read, Listened To, or Watched that day (e.g., books or interesting articles on the Web; music that you’d like to note for listening to again; movies or videos that you’d like to note for watching again)
- any other Miscellaneous topics (interesting finds, conversations, social media threads, etc.)
Every day, open your Daily Note in Obsidian and check off the items for your Daily Habits as you accomplish them, and also prioritize the things that you want to or need to get done for that day. Having a tool like this for organization and accountability is essential for your success.
For anyone just getting started, or those not into electronic tools or apps, use a simple notebook 📓 and a pen or a pencil. Use a page in the notebook for each day and keep track of the items that are important to you.
If you want to go “next level” with your notebook, the Bullet Journal method is good. If you’re unfamiliar with the Bullet Journal, you can start with Ryder Carroll’s official Bullet Journal method that started the whole thing, or check out the whole universe of resources available on Medium, on Instagram, on Pinterest, or any other platform of your choice.
Whatever your challenges, and whatever your tool for getting things done (yeah, the whole Getting Things Done®️/GTD®️ phenomenon is for a different post), I hope that you’ll:
- Take encouragement from the fact that you’re not alone in the struggle of adulting
- Set priorities for yourself so you know what’s important to you (which then helps you understand what isn’t important to you)
- Take advantage of the many tools available to help you get done what you need to get done
And as the blue shirt 👕 guy from Free Guy says, “Don’t have a good day, have a great day.” 😀Posted on September 4, 2021 #Adulting #Budgeting #Bullet Journal #Evernote #Exercising #Obsidian #Organization #Productivity #Sunday Box