Many of us who participate in National Novel Writing Month seek balance between the expectations of writing, writing, writing—and all that other mundane stuff, like housework, laundry, the full-time gig, a social life, and eating. But I’ve found over the years that applying some tips I learned during NaNo are useful to me at other times of year—and can even be useful to non-writers just trying to balance their lives.
Here’s my top five:
~ Clean one thing a day. Meaning, vacuum one room, scrub one toilet, dust one shelf of knick-knacks. Doing just one small thing a day will either get you stoked to do more than that—or will just help you feel like your house is under control until you do have the time to clean. You’re less likely to feel overwhelmed.
~ Give yourself fifteen minutes a day to do whatever you want. Playing your fave Facebook game, calling an old friend, watching a couple of stupid things on YouTube, reading five pages of that book you keep meaning to get to. You’ll feel like you always have recreation in your life. And don’t say ‘I don’t have fifteen minutes.’ You do.
~ Stock up. Don’t buy one tube of toothpaste because you’re out. Go buy TWO. When you start the second one, you have PLENTY of time to remember to put it on your list before you get to the bottom of your second tube. In short: buy two of each product next time you run out. This saves so much stress I can’t believe it.
~ Safety pin your socks. I’m totally serious. If you safety pin each sock to its mate, you’ll never lose a sock again in the washer/dryer. When you take them off at night, re-safety pin them together before you put them in the hamper. I haven’t lost a sock in eight years since I started doing this. How does this aid your life? Well, you won’t run out of socks so often unless they get so warn out you have to throw them away. Saves time-saves money.
~ Limit your to-do list to five items. Don’t put too much on your to-do list. Five things is enough. What usually happens is you’ll finish all of them, feel accomplished, and then you’ll want to add just one more thing and finish that. It also keeps you from feeling overwhelmed and like your work never ends. Some days you might finish your five and feel so good you’ll be able to say, ‘the rest of this day is mine.’