So many blogs I read nowadays have a self deprecating tone. After bemoaning her frantic or disorganized lifestyle, a writer makes a wishful comment about being more organized, less cluttered, more relaxed, less stressed, better at time management, and less hurried. But then she states that oh well, who really does have it all together, since we all know that’s not possible.
With everyone having a voice via the Web nowadays, a person can communicate with thousands of strangers at any given time. We all have something to say and we all want to be heard. But we shy away from appearing like a know-it-all, proud, an expert, or even experienced much of the time. It is like an unwritten American law that we have to constantly undermine our own efforts, whether literally or figuratively, so as not to offend anyone by—our opinions? our success? I think we may overestimate how much other people care about our lifestyles, as well as overestimating our responsibility in whether or not someone else chooses to become offended when no offense is given.
I think it is possible to have it all together if we wish. For some people the thrill of completing projects last minute, scrounging for lost items in a sea of junk, wondering where unbudgeted money will appear from to pay the bills, and generally flying by the seat of their pants may be the life of their dreams. It may be a reaction to an overly structured life in the past or may simply be the environment in which they thrive the most (or may be a current condition that, for whatever reason, they are simply unwilling to change). But it is oversimplification to state that no one really has it all together, and it is a bit judgmental to imply that, simply because so many people have too many loose ends, that no one should be able to be put together. It seems among women on the web that the unspoken code to post online is that the room only looks like this for the photo, taking time out of my day to be online cuts into one’s “real life,” we all have at least one overstuffed closet that we dare not open the door to, and we all secretly struggle with at least one if not a dozen direly stressful situations that are ever on the verge of spinning out of control.
Perhaps the reason the web has been flooded with empathy nowadays is a backlash to the generally held idea that society expects people, especially grownups, to act and be put together or perfect (or at least, we think society expects this). Obviously that’s impossible, especially if you believe in entropy or original sin. However, to read the self deprecating tone of thousands of blogs on the web, it seems we’re fighting windmills in the battle against society’s supposed impossibly high standards because the opposite appears to be true: one writer after another justifies this, defends that, and generally dismisses attempts at living a meaningful, productive, well managed life. The patting each other on the back and efforts to love ourselves as is, excusing all our faults and idolizing the most stressed out, delicately juggled lifestyles as the only possible and moral end to all one’s striving for order has, perhaps, swung away from merely acknowledging imperfection and gone into the realm of saying that not only is it impossible to have a reasonably managed, content lifestyle but also that it is proud or vain to strive for such a thing.
However, you can certainly find a rhythm that works for you if you wish it. For most of us, childhood memories recall a simpler time. If we give it a minute’s thought, we quickly realize that it was due to not having major responsibilities such as working for pay, maintaining a home, and managing money, not to mention caring completely for oneself and possibly others. Since we cannot do away with the responsibilities of adulthood, we can try to find ways to minimize our efforts while maximizing the outcome.
Some of the ways I try to “have it all together” are as follows:
1. Cultivate a consistent schedule. It seems like the simplest thing, and perhaps it is, but having a set time to get up each morning, allotting time for meals, commute, self care, chores, and free time will open up time and lessen stress considerably. For people who dislike the rigidness of an exact schedule, set the time slots wider apart and put more activities in between; that way you can switch around the order of at least some tasks to break monotony and suit your present mood.
2. Write a budget. I have seen some advice that having a budget is bad because it’s constricting, but it has worked well for me. I write up all our monthly expenses, many of which are the same from month to month, and set up as many bills as possible on auto pay to free up valuable time and avoid late payments. The rest of the bills I put into my tablet’s calendar a few days ahead of time. I budget for spending money, too, so we’re never guessing how much we have to spend.
3. Clear clutter. I know, everyone’s on the anti-clutter bandwagon nowadays. But we really do live in a nation of stuff-aholics; I have spoken with many friends who have expressed concern over having to go through all their parents’ stuff someday because there is just so much. What I have found about de-cluttering is that it is best done in layers and made into a way of life. That is because going back through things several times may bring a fresh perspective, and over time items that once made the cut no longer do and need to be purged.
4. Have a place for everything. Again, seems like it should be simple but it’s amazing how many people do not have a place for everything. If you are blessed enough to have a permanent dwelling place, take the time and invest in the storage systems needed to have a place for everything. Then, put everything in its place.
5. Deal with emotions. We all know there’s more to life than appearances, and the most organized, financially savvy, running on schedule home will be in discord if emotional and spiritual issues go unnoticed or acknowledged. More than any sort of outward appearance of having it all together, families and individuals should be striving to cultivate unconditional love, deep friendship, and an atmosphere of encouragement and growth within the home. Saying “I love you,” going out of the way to do something extra for someone, giving help when needed, and listening sympathetically will never cease to be the most important way a household can truly have a well managed lifestyle.
How do you lead a well managed life? Share in the comments below, and as always, thanks for reading the Well Bred Woman in Progress!