Organisational Jugaad For The Mid-20s Working Woman

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11 min read

Let’s be real: trying to live a balanced life is just 24×7 jugaad, especially when you’ve just ventured into adulthood after years of being a student. 

As an almost 25-year-old woman at the beginning of her career, I am struggling to leave behind the college lifestyle I have been so used to for the last seven years of my life. 

Here are some things I have been trying to fix over the last six months: lack of hydration, bad sleeping habits, relying on ordering in more than I should, not really keeping my home clean.

The funny thing is, I thrive at work, efficiently so. I am highly organised, and I enjoy managing myself in the office.

But in conjunction with the lockdown, my unorganised personal life has spilled into my hyper-organised professional one. The results have not been comfortable.

So obviously, I have been trying to organise my way through this sudden shift in my life. Here are a few ways you can do jugaad to organise your life under lockdown. 

How To Create A Home Office When You Don’t Have Space

One of the top tips all those how-to-successfully-work-from-home articles have been peddling is to “create a separate office space”.

That would be useful, had I not moved into the house I am staying in just before the lockdown began, and in possession of very little furniture. Add to that the fact that I live in Mumbai, and on a tight paycheck, so I do not have a lot of space.

home office

So separate office space is a laughing matter for me. I can’t really “not work on the bed” because I have no other sitting furniture.

And I am not sitting on the hard, uncomfortable floor from 9am to 5pm, thank you very much.

Here’s how I hack it:

1. I fold my blanket as soon as I wake up, and keep it at the foot of my bed to avoid those nefarious vegetating urges.

2. I vary my sitting position every hour or so to keep my blood moving. I also avoid lying down, because that’s just an invitation for lethargy.

3. I take my phone calls walking around in the limited space in my house, so that I don’t become a fossil by end-of-day.

4. I shut my laptop down when I am taking a lunch break, as well as after work (unless I am watching a show or a movie, of course). 

5. I have successfully conditioned myself to mentally pause working while eating by using a placemat whenever I take a meal. It’s weird, but it works.

6. At the end of the work day, I pack up my laptop and all its wires, and keep them away. The physical activity of ‘packing up’ helps me transition into my non-work life.

laptop on bed

Top tip: Although it’s nigh impossible right now (especially if you’re in a red zone), once this is all over, invest in a folding tray table/laptop table. It’s a lifesaver!

How To Organise Your Work When You Don’t Have Pen And Paper

There are certain things I cannot work without, either at home or in the office.

The first is obviously a computer, and I was lucky enough to get my laptop back from work before lockdown kicked into full gear. But I forgot to grab my (equally important) organisational journals. Yes, plural.

planner

How have I survived the lockdown (and its three successors) without them?

By accepting that it isn’t the journals themselves, but an organisational system that helps me function. Since my journals were always open on my desk through the work day so I could organise, reorganise, and check tasks off; I needed something similarly omnipresent.

But here’s the problem: like many mid-20s households, mine too sorely lacks an abundance of pen and paper. So I recreated my system using a post-it app on my laptop.

Here’s my simple organisation system:

1. I created three post-its — tasks for the day, upcoming tasks, personal tasks.

2. Tasks for the day, as the name suggests, is a list of all the work I have to do on a given day. I made sure to download a post-it app which allowed formatting, so that I could highlight certain important tasks, as well as strike off the ones I complete. I update this every morning.

3. Upcoming tasks catalogues all the work I have to do in the coming week(s), so that I don’t lose track of what is to be transferred to my tasks of the day post-it. I update this every time I get a new task.

4. Personal tasks involve any pressing tasks I have to do which require the use of my laptop, such as transferring rent or making creatives for the Instagram page I run. I update this every friday, just before the weekend begins.

organise with post its

5. Now that I only spend money on rent and groceries, I can easily keep a track of my expenses using the text message notifications I get from my bank. But you could also add an expenditure post-it, because I did have a column in my journal to track how much money I was spending on the daily.

If you are analog, and in possession of pen and paper/actual post-its, you can use this system off-laptop as well!

How To Manage Cooking And Cleaning While Working From Home

One thing that a lot of people my age have taken for granted is cooking. We also weren’t really taught how to clean the house in our middle-class bubble. Between househelp and the meteoric rise of food delivery apps, we’ve always felt like we were sorted. 

But it’s all become very un-sorted under lockdown. Risking the life of househelp is out of question, and ordering food from outside is not the best idea right now. 

So between not knowing how to hold a jhaadu and just general laziness, we’ve all been struggling with keeping our houses clean and our bellies fed.

jhaadu cleaning

Here’s how I work my way around this:

1. I make a weekly food plan in advance every weekend. This also helps with my shopping list, as it is not advisable to venture out every other day.

2. I keep a running list of staples (sugar, rice, atta, dal, coffee/tea, milk, etc.) and check in on those before I go grocery shopping so that I am never running short.

3. I always ensure that I have fruits at home. Breakfast is not a meal to skip, especially when I’m also cooking and cleaning myself.

4. I have been cooking for myself for a while, so I have figured out which vegetables are easier to cook, and purchase only those. If you don’t know how to cook meat, remember that it’s easier to learn how to cook vegetarian food first.

5. I keep my meals simple — literally. I always add the word ‘simple’ in my search terms while hunting for recipes, because that often cuts the number of ingredients and the steps in half.

6. I optimise my lunch break by making a quick meal and eating it within an hour by keeping lunch simple. This way I can improve my cooking skills while making dinner. 

7. Cleaning everyday is hard, so I sweep every alternate day, and mop twice a week. Dusting and bathroom cleaning happens once a week.

cooking shakshouka

8. I wash my clothes once a week, and usually at night while I am making dinner so that I can get two things done at once.

9. In my area, stores are open only thrice a week, from 9 to 5. This obviously overlaps with my work hours. 

So I wake up earlier on one of the designated days, and finish off any major tasks I have for the day (see: my organisation system) so that I can take a couple of hours to stand in line and purchase my essentials.

How To Hack Adulting With Stuff You Have At Home

How To Keep Yourself Hydrated

I keep a clear glass of water at my bedside/office at all times, along with a clear water bottle. That way, every time I turn my eye, the water is in my line of sight and I take a sip.

The clear glass/bottle work so much better than opaque ones, because visibility is very important when it comes to training the self.

How To Fix Your Sleep Cycle

sleeping woman

At the beginning of the lockdown, I was sleeping very late, which ended up with me plodding along exhaustedly through the next workday. 

I now brush my teeth by 11pm every night, since it’s usually the last thing I do every night. This has tricked my body into thinking it is time to sleep.

I also keep at alarm for 7.45am so that no matter what, I am up by 8am. This gives me enough time before my workday begins, because rolling out of bed and into my first meeting of the day was just not working out for me.

You will have to do this every single day until you have conditioned yourself, but it’s worth the effort. Take it from a former lazy person!

How To Start Exercising

Exercising has always repelled me, and its patrons and gyms have always intimidated me. So I have avoided making it a part of my life for years.

But the lack of outdoor life during lockdown was making my body experience atrophy in real time. So I decided to just throw myself into it.

I began by doing three exercises a day, and have slowly built it up to five or six. It takes me about half an hour to repeat each exercise in three sets of ten repetitions.

Top tip: After stretching, start with the same exercise every day. I do jumping jacks, because they loosen up my body. The rest of the workout becomes easier when you’ve finished the first exercise!

home yoga exercise

I also was not very good (read: I was very bad) at all the exercises in the beginning. But I watched videos and asked around, and eventually found my rhythm. If I can’t do something, I don’t stress myself out. I just try something else. 

I also take weekends off from exercise, and it gives me the motivation to resume the next day. Everyone tells you about the health and fitness bit, but no one ever told me how it releases enough endorphins to literally make you feel better. And those endorphins? So worth the struggle!

Adulting is hard, especially because there is no manual. It’s the wild, wild west and you’re usually thrown into the deep end of it. But trust me, if someone as lazy and as full of procrastination like me can do it, then anyone can! 

confused woman adulting

While muddling my way to adulthood, I have learnt that it is like taking a cold shower. You have to unclench your whole body and just open the tap. 

It’s the same with any of the things I have mentioned in this article. Just unclench your stubbornness, and jump right in. It’s worth the hype!

And if you’re struggling… well, this article probably has the naswers to all the organisational jugaad you need!

Priyanka is a poet, a feminist, and an Ophelia conspiracy theorist. She can often be found yelling "Pray you, mark!" at rooms full of condescending men in positions of power. She believes that there is a tremendous dearth of tenderness in this world, and that we need to shift perspectives from acute compassion to chronic empathy. Trust her, she's learned that the hard way. She spends her life drinking coffee, playing with eyeshadow, and ricocheting between bawler and baller.

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