Ever had to think so hard that your head hurt?
I know I have. And it used to happen all the time. I was (and still am) a frequent receiver of stress headaches.
It is well documented that there are limits to our daily mental capacity. We have a mental decision quotient each day – you can only devote a certain amount of brain power to making decisions throughout your day before you go to mush, and stress begins taking over.
Having systems and structures in place can help alleviate the need to make unnecessary decisions throughout your day.
Most people already do this with things like their personal finances. Why receive a bill that you then have to take time to write a check for or fill out an online form, when you can set it up to automatically withdraw the necessary money from your account for you? It’s a no-brainer really. It eliminates the mental decision for you, and you can now use that time in some other more productive fashion, with the peace of mind in knowing that your finances are taken care of.
This same approach can be used for so many other areas of life, and the following are various strategies I have put in place for myself to eliminate unnecessary mental stress and generally make myself a happier and more productive person in general. Hopefully some of these can serve as ideas for systematizing your own life:
As I mentioned above, personal finance is one of the easiest areas to systematize in your life. Personally, I have as many bills as possible set for auto-pay, as well as deposits into my savings and investment accounts.
I also utilize what is known as ‘intelligent investing’ with the application Acorns. You can read about it more on your own, but all this really means is that my investment strategy is set to my personal situation and taste for risk, and is then auto-balanced by a computer to make sure I stay on this strategy. This way, I never have to worry about my investments or spend time evaluating my portfolio, which is well worth it to me.
Monthly To-Do Lists
I’ve written about goal-setting plenty before, so I’ll keep it quick. Here is my system for achieving my personal goals:
Every 6 months I block out a few hours on a weekend to sit down and work out my goals for the next 6 months. This time frame works for me as a year is simply too long – a lot can change with your life situation in 6 months’ time, especially if you are hitting everything. And I make sure these goals are building toward the larger life goals I have set for myself.
At the start of every month (usually a Sunday night), I then sit down for about 15 minutes and determine what I want to accomplish over the upcoming month, based on my 6-month objectives.
This breaks down further into goals for every week. The idea is to make the sum of the parts equal the whole. My actions from every week should add up to accomplish my goals for the month, and the actions from each month should add up to the goals I set for a 6-month period.
Daily To-Do lists
These weekly goals can break down further into my goals for a given day.
I’ve found that simply making a to-do list isn’t very helpful in achieving your goals for a day. I’m either too optimistic with how much I can get done in a day, or I’m not urgent enough with how I spend my time.
The solution I’ve found is to budget a certain amount of time to accomplishing your tasks for the day. Every night, I determine what I most need to accomplish the next day, and then allocate time slots for those tasks.
This makes sure I keep building momentum throughout the day. When I get done with one task, I already know what I have to do for the next hour. It keeps the ball rolling, and helps make sure I’m getting the essential stuff taken care of each day
This isn’t a fitness page, so I’ll keep this short.
Essentially, I track everything I eat through an app called MyFitnessPal. I have pre-determined various levels of macro-nutrients (carbs/protein/fats) I want to hit each day to make sure I am achieving my health goals. This app helps track what I am eating to make sure I hit those goals.
I like to use this app to plan out what I am going to eat each day. I have a relatively simply palette, so once I find something I like, I generally eat it every day until I’m sick of it, then on to the next. This helps make sure I don’t waste time and mental energy deciding what I want to eat. It’s already decided for me
This is the last thing I want to mention here.
This goes hand-in-hand with my goal setting systems, but something I have found to greatly reduce my stress levels specifically in writing is to pre-set my production schedule. I take 10 minutes to write in a calendar when I want publish articles throughout the month that mesh with my life-schedule, and then list out what I want those articles to be. I’ll mention later where those article ideas come from, but I make sure I have a coherent strategy to what content I am creating, why, and when.
There are other systems I have in place throughout my life as well, and I will get to them later, but these can serve as examples of ways to help reduce your daily mental strain, and make sure you are always progressing and moving forward in your life toward your goals, whatever they may be.
We only have so much time in the day, and so much mental capacity for the unknown. Don’t let that overwhelm you. As introverts, we are naturally drawn to structure and order. We just have to leverage that disposition