Get my life in as much order as I can before the chaos hits
January 6, 2019 3:54 AM   Subscribe

I have a brief few-month lull, before a series of major life events are all due to hit in short succession. My coping method for my anxiety about the sheer number of unknowns I am heading into is to try to get anything I do have control over in some semblance of order in advance. Please help me brainstorm areas I can work on.

Things I have already done:

-gotten my paper filing situation in order
-cleared my inbox and set up auto filters to help make future filing easier, plus started aggressively using "archive" rather than leaving emails in inbox forever
-hired cleaning help and begun making progress on all the problem areas of the house
-started grocery shopping online but still don't have the system quite down yet
-i'll do some food prep for the freezer, but not yet. I do want to try meal planning, maybe.
- I am probably going to speak to a financial advisor soon because I'm tired of feeling ignorant and incompetent when it comes to retirement planning
- found a writing/drawing habit method that seems to work for me
- found a moisturizer/sunscreen that isn't perfect but better than nothing and low effort
- recycled a ton of clothes
- started a five year journal

Things I'd like to try:

-establish healthier relationship with phone usage (how????)
- track budget better (need better system)
- more social connections (.... Dunno how)
- better fitness

But my overall goal is to distract myself from my (useless) stress by redirecting all my nervous energy into projects I can do now and benefit from later. I've got like 4 months and what I'd love is a beautiful checklist of projects I can just bulldoze my way through. Bonus points for anything that resiliency-proofs me from falling apart at the end (... Meditation? Maybe?)
posted by Cozybee to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Little starter idea: I just prebought all the birthday and holiday cards (and stamps!) I need for the year ahead, along with some generics. I've popped reminders in my diary for posting, so hopefully will knock them all out with no fuss over the next 12 months
posted by teststrip at 4:50 AM on January 6 [11 favorites]

I'm getting all stressed-out and ominous-feeling myself just reading your post and you didn't even say what's coming!

Since you mention food prep, if you're anticipating needing fast meals, do you like vegetarian burgers? They're a major go-to healthy, quick meal for me, since all it takes is a microwave and cleanup is minimal, but I find I really have to search for a brand and variety I like.

So if that sounds like an idea and you don't already have a brand you like, you could systematically try all the different sorts available to you in a quest for the perfect veggie burger. Then when crunch time comes you can just buy stacks of them and fill your freezer. Even just work it out ahead of time as a backup in case your food-prep operations break down.
posted by XMLicious at 4:55 AM on January 6 [9 favorites]

Here's a good previous Ask. You are rocking a lot of stuff covered there, but it's still a good resource. The asker's final response is really good, too.

Get your health and dental appointments squared away, any stuff needed for your car if you have one (I don't, so other than oil checks I don't know what that would be), and remember any non-monthly annual or less-frequent expenses that you might have, like insurance payments, dues, and the like. If you plan on going to any conferences this year see if registration information is available and register. Make sure your luggage is in good repair and the wheels, if any, work. (I lost a wheel that cannot be replaced, the first year out of warranty. I need to get a new carry-on.) Get TSA Pre-Check.

As I said in the thread I linked, get a copy of Streamlining Your Life and do what it says. It's concise, no-nonsense, and as I remember it's basically a bullet list of projects.

Do Konmari and do it to the letter. You won't be sorry.

Good luck!
posted by jgirl at 5:13 AM on January 6 [4 favorites]

some ideas:
- set up all your bills for automatic withdrawal
- i like to eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch everyday and have “taco Tuesday” and other such themes for dinner so I don’t have to think about it much
- organize your closet in a way that makes sense to you. I’ve organized mine by “outfit” before so I can just grab and go without thinking.
- do you have a lot of X Item (mine would be books)? Go through and organize them or pare down (or both)
posted by CMcG at 5:14 AM on January 6 [3 favorites]

You didn't say what the life events are, so I hope this advice is appropriate. What helps me is a type of meditation to remind myself that many of these events are temporary and will be OVER at some time. I know that sounds a little simple, but it helps give me perspective: One day in the future, I won't have to worry about this event anymore, it will have happened and I will have gotten through it - yay me! Be good to yourself when you do make it through each thing, pat yourself on the back and celebrate your resiliency and know you're going to get through the next thing too. Best of luck to you.
posted by NoraCharles at 5:17 AM on January 6 [7 favorites]

You asked about phone use. Set your phone on airplane mode during your peak use-for-fun hours.

Good luck; you got this!
posted by sockermom at 5:50 AM on January 6

I am no expert on the budgeting scene, but I've been using Mint and a Google spreadsheet. You can go through and install ALL of your relevant banking apps on your phone, along with Mint, Credit Karma, and the Discover credit scorecard. That way you'll be able to access your whole financial life on your phone.
posted by 8603 at 5:55 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]

I use YNAB to make sure I have money for everything I need. When you have YNAB set up, you can put literally everything on autopay that can be put on autopay and be fully confident that the money will be there for them. I haven’t spent a minute paying a credit card bill in years. I found it very intuitive when I started but some people don’t; luckily there are a lot of video tutorials, live online classes, and robust support if you need it. They have a 34-day free trial so you can check it out before you commit. I know I sound like a commercial but YNAB literally changed my life.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 6:15 AM on January 6

Music is a fantastic de-stressor. Check out new or familiar music to play when you need energy, when you need to chill. Set up playlists, favorite stuff in spotify, follow some good playlists from other people.

Habits are incredibly useful, so get up and go to bed at the same time, eat regular meals and healthy snacks. It really helps when things start to get overwhelming.
posted by theora55 at 7:54 AM on January 6 [2 favorites]

Jane McGonigal's SuperBetter might be useful! It's walks you through creating a mindset for building resilience. She separates types of resilience into four different categories: mental, physical, emotional, and social.

I learned about it years ago when someone sent me a link to this ted talk she did, and while the title is really clickbaity, the concepts stuck with me. I got the book a few weeks ago and have been enjoying the deeper dive.
posted by itesser at 8:19 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]

Food prep: if you eat meat, spend a bit of time learning about what freezes well so you're ready to stock up just before your Major Life Events. In my everyday life, for example, having ground cow frozen in one-pound increments (fits great in a quart-sized Ziplock; press it flat for easy stacking and quick thawing) has done away with the ridiculousness of "as plentiful as they are, there's literally no possible family meal I can make with these ingredients." I learned about that from Dana White of A Slob Comes Clean, who also swears by batch pre-cooking base ingredients with generic spices, and then freezing. My life is nowhere near chaotic enough that I want to go that route entirely, but it does seem a nice compromise between full-on freezer meals and cooking from scratch daily.
posted by teremala at 8:22 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]

Buy an Instant Pot and learn to use it. If I ever have leftover broth from anything, I throw in the same volume of rice and cook it. Then I put the rice into the freezer for later in single serve sizes. When I want to eat it, I microwave it for 2-3 minutes and throw in a little butter and cheese.
posted by soelo at 2:44 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]

I asked a question about what to do with 11 weeks to go before giving birth. Now, six weeks after having given birth to just_duckling, I can say what I did that has helped me:

-I pre-addressed and stamped all my Christmas card envelopes, so I only had to write them afterward
-I made a ton of freezer meals and cookie dough
-I wrote myself step-wise instructions for all the baby and maternity leave-related paperwork I had to do following the birth, so I didn't have to spend any intellectual effort figuring that out after the fact (it would have seemed impossible!!!)
-I pre-paid some bills
-I refilled prescriptions
-I got my hair cut and booked a dentist appointment
-I bought all the supplies I thought I'd need (especially things like laundry detergent, toilet paper, stuff from Costco)
-I bough a bunch of books for my e-reader
-I bought and wrapped all the birthday and Christmas presents that were coming up

A lot of this will of course depend on what big things are coming up for you, but all these things have helped me a ton in post-partum fog. Good luck!
posted by just_ducky at 6:26 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]

I had to do some prepping for surgery, so I know what it's like.

Some things I did/am doing now:

1. Make sure your Passport (if you have one) and Drivers License/State ID aren't due to expire soon. If they are, make plans to renew them. The State Department is still processing passport applications; I am assuming you are in the USA here.

2. If you don't have a passport, consider getting one. The State Department should still be processing new passport applications, and it'll take a few weeks if you don't need an expedited one.

3. If you don't have a Costco membership, consider getting one, and then shopping for some of the basics in bulk (like toilet paper, some canned goods, coffee/tea, etc.)

4. I got some Tiles, and put them on various important things - like my keychain, my wallet, my passport, etc. That gives me piece of mind if they get lost or misplaced.

5. Sounds trite, but I do find coloring to be very relaxing - same with some puzzle books, like Sudoku, etc. Those can be inexpensive ways to cut down on the stress, while still keeping the mind active.

6. Auto paying your bills is a good idea.

7. I did treat myself to a paid Spotify membership, and I use it quite a bit. Very relaxing to listen to some favorite tunes whilst stressed/busy.
posted by spinifex23 at 7:35 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]

Budgeting: before you start YNAB or anything, download all your e-statements from your account(s) and start sorting your spending into categories. I just used a spreadsheet for that and it got me a lot of actionable information, including how much I can put aside each month for a basic savings instrument (eg. short-term fixed deposit). Also, if you haven't already done so, do some bank-shopping and see if they have any multiplier or higher-interest promotions.
posted by ahundredjarsofsky at 12:39 AM on January 7

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