Messy and stressy: learning to organise life

Balancing work, study, a social life, life admin, and making time for hobbies is hard. How can I organise my life to stay on top of it all?

Us writers wouldn’t be contributing to Messy magazine if we didn’t feel like we’re living in chaos most of the time.

It’s taken me all of my teens and the first half of my twenties to learning to organise so I can keep myself afloat.

But in this article, I’ll take you through how I organise my life when I feel like I’m drowning in obligation and responsibilities.

First of all:

  • You’ll need paper and a pen.
  • This is to brain dump our whole lives out on paper so we can organise the thoughts.

Write out everything that’s on your mind, and all your responsibilities.

Laundry, food, work, lectures, social events, societies you want to get involved in.

Colour code and categorise them.

Life: Meals, shopping, chores

Uni: Work, lectures, study dates

Fun: Friends, activities.

If your list is looking like all work and no play, write down the kind of person you want to be. Both now and in a years time.

What qualities do you wish to have?

Zen and spiritual? Active and interesting? Surprising? Confident? Charismatic?

From that you can search up social groups or hobbies in your area, and choose some to be a part of.

The activities you choose to take up, shape you as a person and plonk you into a different social world, where a new side of you will be coaxed out.

You don’t have to commit to anything or attend regularly, these sessions are just to get you to dip your toe into the world of balance.

If your list is looking too much: slow down.

You can’t be and do everything all at once. We have years and years ahead of us to do everything we want. There will be slow patches where you can pick up one of the hobbies or commitments you’ve had to put down for now; you’re doing fine.


Buy, print or draw up a monthly calendar for the next few months.

Write all your non-negotiable future commitments (such as lectures, seminars and shifts at work) on your calendar. Write down the time you need to be there. Highlight them in one colour.

Write up all your pre-booked events on the calendar, including the times you’re planning to be there- and highlight them in a different colour.

You now have a bit of structure and visual representation of how you’re spending some of your time.

Now we’re gonna need another visual to break it down further.

Write down weekly chores that are essential for life function.

  • Laundry
  • Food shop
  • Budgeting
  • Gym/ exercise
  • Planning your week ahead

Create something visual, either a poster or a lock screen on your tablet/ laptop, reminding you of these tasks.

It’s easier to stick to something when there’s a reminder staring you in the face all the time.

Do a key at the bottom of your calendar and put a dot of a coloured pen on each of the days you work out, so you can keep track of your activity.

When it comes to planning your days:

Don’t be too rigid, and don’t plan your whole week in detail in advance. You will likely not stick to those plans, it’s just the nature of life in your twenties.

It’s okay to pencil in that you want to have a study day on Wednesday, or do all your life admin chores on a Sunday- but that’s not gonna take all day.

Plan your day the night before. In a loose format.

  • Breakfast: cereal or oats
  • Go to lecture
  • Gym
  • Study in library- 1 hour
  • Dinner: Salmon and rice
  • Catch up with a friend

It’s not so specific that it’s unattainable, but it’s designed to influence a dopamine rush and make you feel accomplished when you achieve those small manageable tasks.

Also, before you go to bed, something I like to do is write down what I call my ‘daily wins’.

I bullet point all the small stupid things I did to be proud of that day.

  • Ticked off everything on my to-do list
  • Wrote an article
  • Made £30 at work
  • Managed to prevent overwhelming emotions
  • Made my friend smile.
  • Did not beat myself up when …fell through.

Positive reinforcement is a subtle way to encourage productivity and optimism, you’ll find yourself walking through life actively looking for reasons to smile.

Finally, there is a lot to be said for energy accounting.

Make a table of things that give you energy, and things that take your energy.

For everything you do that takes your energy, do something that gives you energy.

I believe that getting organised definitely improve a person’s quality of life. I hope that these tips help.

What do you do to organise your life?

For more advice, opinions and guidance from experts who know more than us, check out our grown up sh*t content.

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