Do you want to live a more intentional life? These ten tips will help you slow down, focus, and live more intentionally so you can reach your goals and enjoy your life again.
There’s a secret no one wants to tell you about being a successful, happy woman; and that secret is that we don’t have to do it all. We don’t have to be tired all the time, stressed out, or overwhelmed.
We live in an age of high expectations for women, and it can often seem like we’re drowning trying to get it all done.
We’re supposed to have the careers, the marriages, raise smart kids involved in extra-curricular activities, provide home cooked meals, run the errands, and keep the house clean. It’s easy to begin to feel tired and overwhelmed. And, because everyone else is doing all of these things, too, we tell ourselves this is normal.
The truth is, though, it’s not.
We’re spending so much time doing what we’re supposed to do, that quite often, we lose sight of what we want to do. And that leaves us exhausted, stressed, and in desperate need of a recharge. That’s where creating an intentional life comes in.
What is Intentional Living?
I really only discovered intentional living in the last couple of years. It was as I was deep diving into my minimalist journey in an effort to find peace that it finally came up. It turns out, it’s what I really needed. Minimalism fits in with intentional living because we become intentional about our homes and the things we buy. But, it’s so much more than that.
Living intentionally means living a life of purpose and discipline. It means examining your “why,” and figuring out what you truly want out of life.
If your actions aren’t bringing you closer to what you truly want, then you aren’t living intentionally, and it’s time to re-evaluate how you spend your time.
Often, the issue is our habits, which can be hard to change, but not impossible. Today, I want to share 10 habits you can form to help you live more intentionally and work towards your goals in life.
Related: The Helpful Guide to Living an Intentional Life by Becoming Minimalist
10 Habits for Creating an Intentional Life
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Change doesn’t typically happen overnight, and it usually doesn’t happen by accident. If you’ve ever read the book The Compound Effect, you’re already familiar with this concept. “We are what we repeatedly do,” as Darren Hardy reminds us.
Here are ten habits I’ve noticed interfere with my own personal productivity and intentional living. By being mindful of these things, I’m able to live a more intentional life, be more focused, and less “busy.
Delete Social Media
I love social media as much as the next person. It’s an amazing tool for keeping in touch with friends and family, building a community, and connecting with interest groups. Social media itself isn’t a bad thing, and I’d hate to see it go away completely.
But, if you’re anything like me, you’re probably on it way more than you need to be.
I recently started paying closer attention to the screen time notifications that came up on my phone. I’m not going to go into the amount of time it showed, but I will say that I was appalled by the number.
Of course, I’ve always passed it off as a necessity. I’m a blogger! I’m building a brand online! Of course I need to spend time on my phone!
But, there’s a definite connection between the days I have a high screen time number pop up, and the days I feel really frazzled and like there’s not enough time to get everything done. And, let’s be truthful. A lot of that screen time is mindless scrolling and checking notifications. It’s not real networking.
So, how can we find balance? How can we continue to enjoy what social media is really for, while not letting it be a mindless habit?
Here are some of my tips for limiting mindless social media time:
- Delete social media apps from your phone when you can. This will stop you from just tapping that box when you have a couple of minutes to spare, and it’ll stop notifications from coming through all day.
- When you can’t delete the app (like Instagram, where you can’t fully use it without the app), log out. You might also want to tell your device to forget your log in information so it’s more than one tap to get you into your account. It’s not a lot, but you lose that sense of instant gratification, and it gives you time to stop and think about whether you should really be online.
- Schedule time for social media. Of course we don’t want to eliminate social media from our lives entirely (at least, most of us), so instead, schedule time to be on, and stick to it.
Schedule your weekly routines
I used to have this amazing routine of sitting down every Sunday afternoon and filling in my weekly planner. I wrote in all of my to-do lists, appointments, goals, and deadlines, and let me tell you. That one simple habit made me feel so in control of my week.
More recently, I’ve fallen out of that habit, and can certainly tell a difference. My days feel more chaotic, tasks slip through the cracks, and when I do have a spare moment, I don’t have a list to refer to.
In an effort to live more intentionally, I’m working on building this habit back up. It only takes a few minutes each week, and really helps ensure that everything is in order.
Get it all out on paper
I’ve written about this before (find it here), and it’s my most popular post to-date. Clearly, everyone needs a little help calming down their minds and finding a way to focus.
The concept is pretty simple. Each week, I sit down with a notebook and a pen and just write down everything that comes to mind. I write until I’ve got everything down that crosses my mind, and then, I organize it into a to-do list.
This can be a list of goals, reminders, shopping lists, projects, or anything else that crosses my mind during that time. It’s a great way to keep up with all those thoughts swimming through your head and calm the chaos so you can actually focus.
If we want to live an intentional life, we need to start being really clear about our priorities and sticking to them. Sure, it’s easy to write a huge to-do list and fill your schedule to the max, but that’s not helping anyone.
Think about your priorities, whether they be daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, or just overall. Once you really nail those down, it becomes a lot easier to see where you should be spending your time.
Does your to-do list reflect those priorities? Or is it all over the place? Try to stick (mostly) with the tasks that actually help you achieve your goals and focus on the things most important to you.
Focus on what’s most important (I like to pick a “top three”) and let the rest fall into place after that. It’ll reduce your stress, free up some time, and make you more productive overall.
Wake up earlier
I know, I know. I just heard the collective groan. Trust me. I’m not a morning person. If I have my way, I can easily stay up until the wee hours of the morning and then wake up grumpy in time for a late brunch before getting my day started.
But, at the same time, I was finding myself stressing out about my to-do list and trying to find time for everything that needed to be done.
I’m not telling you you have to wake up earlier to get more done. But, if you’re like I was and find yourself without enough time in your day to work on your most important tasks, waking up a little earlier might be a big benefit.
There really is something to be said for having a routine in the morning, even if it’s a short one. Maybe you use that as your time to work out, or if you work from home like me, that’s your time to get some work done. Maybe you just use it as a time of quiet and meditation before starting your day, or it’s your time to write your to-do list.
Whatever you spend that time doing, I bet you’ll start to realize how much more smoothly your day goes when you take that time. Even if it’s just 30 minutes!
Learn to ask for help
Listen. I know we all like to think we’re super-women and can do it all, but the simple truth is that we don’t have to. In fact, we can actually be more productive by not doing it all.
Is there something on your to-do list that takes time away from the things you really need to be doing? If so, find a way to either delegate that task to someone else, or ask for help getting it done.
For me, those tasks are dishes and laundry. If you’re a mom, you know that neither of those chores are ever completely finished, and they can take up so much of your time. They’re both chores I hate, and they take away the time I could be writing or doing yoga or studying aromatherapy. They take away from family time or time to rest. All of those things are bigger priorities to me, and honestly, dishes just get in the way.
My solution was to start offering an allowance to my pre-teen daughter for getting those things done. It teaches her responsibility, frees up some of my time, and gives her money for some of the things she wants to buy.
It was a win-win for all of us, and it’s a system that works. Maybe for you, your solution is to hire someone to come in and clean. Or maybe, what you need help with is something totally different!
I know a lot of moms really despise cooking and meal prepping, so for them, maybe a meal delivery service, or more frequent take-out is their solution. Whatever it is, figure out what you don’t want to spend your time doing, and figure out a way to take that off your plate and get some help.
Schedule in down time
Living an intentional life does not mean living a busier life. We don’t have to tie our self worth up in how much we have going on, and being “busy” is not a badge of honor.
When your schedule is overfilled with commitments to the point where you don’t have time to do nothing, something has to give. It’s in those times that we get so caught up in our business that we forget to be intentional.
So, allow time to do nothing. Take things off your schedule that aren’t suiting your highest priorities. And give yourself time to read a book, enjoy a slow meal, or take a long walk.
Declutter Your Home
Decluttering is one of the best ways to manage your home. You don’t realize how much effort and time you put into keeping your home clean until you get rid of the clutter. Once I minimized my home, I started noticing less anxiety and stress, and realized I didn’t have to spend as much time cleaning every day.
Plus, once everything was out and my house was clean and organized, I found myself being more intentional about what I brought into the house.
Decluttering can be a great step towards intentional living. You’ll free up some time, because there’s less to clean, but if you’re mindful about the process, it’ll also make you more aware of your consumerist habits, which will help you cut back on mindless spending and shopping.
Starting each day with gratitude is a great way to be mindful of the blessings in your life. Consider a gratitude journal, if that’s your thing, or even just spend a few minutes in quiet contemplation over all of the good things in your life!
Gratitude takes practice, and is a habit you have to work to form. For most of us, we’ve been so stressed for so long that we forget we have so much to be grateful for.
You’ll find that as you take the time to develop this practice, you’ll feel fewer negative emotions, and start to feel genuine gratitude and happiness over your life.
Say “no” more than “yes.”
This little bit of advice always gets a double take when I tell people, but it’s so relevant to living an intentional life. Time is an incredibly precious asset, and we need to be more intentional about how we spend it.
Do you find yourself struggling to find time for the things that are most important in your life? That’s because you’re too busy doing the things you feel obligated to do. Every minute we spend doing something unimportant is a minute we’ve taken away from our priorities, so keep that in mind when you’re asked to do things.
I heard a great piece of advice once that has really stuck with me, so I’m going to share it with you, too.
Live your life in a way where if your first reaction isn’t “hell, yes!” then the answer is really “no.” It’ll change so much about how you spend your time.
Live a More Intentional Life with These Steps
We live in an age where it’s totally normal and acceptable to be tired, stressed out, and busy. But the thing is, we’re really just busy doing what we think we’re supposed to do, and that’s not always what’s best for us.
These ten habits will help you start living a more intentional life, one day at a time.