How to Have It All As a Twenty-Something

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There are only 24 hours in a day and, much to my dismay, I have to spend at least 9 of them asleep. That means that in order to “have it all” (which is a myth Shonda Rhimes finally, thankfully, dispelled) I can’t possibly sleep, right? Or I can’t eat, or I have to give up on my life? For a long time, I felt like this was true:


And to a point, I do still feel that way. If I’m succeeding in one area, there’s failure somewhere else – a pile of clothes sitting in the washer, e-mails not being answered, miles not being run. Along the way, I’ve figured it out a little bit, so here are my favorite tricks to give the illusion that you can have it all as a single twenty-something.

  • For the truly disorganized, there’s UfYH. There is no shame here – I grew up in a chronically messy house, and as stupid as it probably sounds, I never learned how to clean. When I discovered UfYH on tumblr a couple years ago, it made me feel like I could be one of those Monica Gellar-types with the spotless homes. A couple 20/10s per week to tidy up and everything seems to keep itself in order – plus, once you start using 20/10s in one area of your life, they’re a great way to introduce yourself to this style of time management and apply it to anything else – work, exercise, etc. Set a timer on your phone and take on one of the challenges, or download the official UfYH app in Google Play or the App Store.
  • The next step on the path to having it all is to keep your house clean and stay on top of laundry: to me, this is the number one way to keep things in order. When I have laundry backed up and covering my room, not only can I not navigate my already-tiny room, my head is equally crazy. I can’t focus, and no work gets done in my room. I make it a point to do laundry once a week (and as a bonus, this means I [rarely] show up at work looking like I got dressed in the dark.) It’s easier to keep things clean by doing a little work every day than to do a cleaning marathon once a month.
  • We only get 24 hours in a day, try as I might to change this. I’m an early sleeper, so the way I get more time in my day is to wake up early. Usually I use this to work out, but sometimes I use it to plan, clean, blog, anything I feel is being neglected. Sometimes it just means I wake up early and have time to do my hair while watching House before work like a normal person. (Alternately, you could stay up late – this doesn’t work for me.) And the double-edged sword here is that this means I naturally wake up in a panic on weekends, so I take afternoon naps by the pool to compensate.
  • Institute devoted prep days: again, not a new concept, but it’s definitely worth it to take Sunday afternoon or Tuesday evening, whatever time you have, to get as much preparation done for your week as you can. This might mean batch cooking in the Crock Pot, building Mason jar salads for workweek lunches, or powering through your laundry in one sitting. (Another thing I’m notably bad at – I’m great with washing and drying, but clothes could sit in the basket for days before they get put away.)
  • Multi-task and automate wherever you can. I’m never just doing laundry – I’m doing laundry and scrolling through my favorite blogs leaving comments. I’m never just getting ready for work in the morning – I’m also brewing tea in the kitchen and mentally cataloging things in my closet that need to go.
  • Have one day a week where you don’t have to do any work at all. This is key for me, now that my busy season at work is done and my weekends are finally free. My Saturdays are sacred: I may do some work browsing for jobs or writing, but I don’t stress, and I certainly don’t do anything that I can’t do poolside 😉 This one day of absolute relaxation is so important for my mental health, allowing me to reboot, recharge, and get ready for the next round!

how to have it all

What is your favorite life hack to “have it all”?