How Living Alone Made Me More Disciplined

Living alone advantages

You thought living alone would be great. Everything would be all yours, no more sharing. You’d throw fabulous dinner parties, binge all the Netflix your heart desired, frolic naked just because you can.

Yet, somehow, life isn’t as magnificent as you thought it would be. Something’s gone wrong.

Instead of playing host and impressing your friends, you find yourself knee deep in unpacked boxes, dirty dishes, and mounting bills. You just wanted a pretty home to call all your own.

Now, you spend all your free time trying to get your cable and internet set-up. As if you have a four-hour window available on a weekday.

Your grand plan to save money, by cooking at home, means you have to go grocery shopping and wash dishes. Take-out was so much easier.

Even furnishing and decorating, which was supposed to be the fun part, has turned into a headache. The couch you want is out of your price range and the one you can afford is out of stock. You bought a mattress and bed frame, but there’s the delivery and assembly fee. You feel like you’re hemorrhaging money.

Somehow, every decision and action you make is a reminder of how unprepared you are to live on your own. You turn to throw something out and realize you have no trash can. You go to wash your hands, but have no soap.

Who knew living alone was so much work? Apparently everyone, but you.

It’s not like you’ve lived with your head in the sand, it’s more that you’ve always surrounded yourself with responsible people. People who took care of all the important details of life, so that you could live your life footloose and fancy-free.

All that living free has finally caught up with you and now it’s time to pay the piper. The time has come to take on financial responsibilities, good housekeeping, and you know, adulthood.

Living alone is not for everyone, but think of it as an opportunity to create your own utopia––where you’re the benevolent leader (captain? supreme ruler?). You’re the taskmaster and worker bee rolled into one.

Running a utopia takes work and discipline, but the reward is that you call the shots. Nobody can mess this up, but you.


Handle Your Business Like a Boss

Let’s face it, one of the most daunting things about living alone is that you’re responsible for everything. Namely, paying the bills on time. But, don’t let that deter you from rocking solo. Use your smartphone to set yourself up for success.

Bills used to stress me out, but once I came up with a system to track them, I worried less. When I got a bill, I would enter the due date and the bill amount into my phone’s calendar. Then I’d set it to remind me to pay it.

I didn’t shove the bill into some drawer or onto a pile on my desk where it would be forgotten, I dealt with it. If I neglect to pay my bills, I’m the one that suffers the consequences. Why would I do that to myself?

The same goes for household supplies. If I notice I’m running low on toilet paper, dish soap or other essentials — I create a list in my phone. Then I select a date and time to go to the store. Concrete plans help me hold myself accountable.

Three Rooms for the Price of One

The best thing about having your own place is that your stuff is no longer confined to your bedroom. If you’re like me, you never have enough storage space and your room is stuffed to the gills.

Now that every nook and cranny is mine, I can distribute my belongings throughout my apartment. I use my space to its fullest by designating rooms for certain activities and interests.

I use my living room as my workout space, home office, and entertainment area. My dining room also serves as a workspace and occasional dance floor.

Once I figured out how I’d use each room, I organized my items accordingly. Turns out, I wasn’t an unorganized pack-rat. I just needed more space to express myself.

Photo by Kristina Flour

Enjoy the Silence

When you live with other people, it can be hard to fully relax and enjoy the stillness of your home. Unless your housemates leave town or sleepover at someone else’s place, your home is rarely quiet.

Someone’s always got the TV on, is listening to music, has friends over, is talking on the phone, the list goes on. This can be particularly frustrating when you’re trying to read or do work. You don’t realize how much other people’s noise impacts you until it’s gone.

Not all noise is bad, but if you’ve suffered through roommates and unwanted interruptions you’ve come to appreciate silence.

It’s in this silence that you can hear your own thoughts and think more clearly. Since living on my own, I’ve become more focused and productive.

Nothing’s Standing in Your Way

Maybe it’s just me, but I had a hard time maintaining good habits when I lived with others. It’s the little things that would derail me, but over time they left me defeated.

I would try going to bed early, but someone would be watching TV until midnight. I’d try to get an early start, but someone had beat me to the bathroom. I wanted to start packing lunches for work, but the fridge was too full with other people’s rotting food.

When you live alone, there’s no more excuses to hide behind. It’s a great opportunity to start anew and actually follow through on all your grand plans.

I finally have a regular sleep schedule, and love being able to exercise or work from home whenever I want. This is just the tip of the iceberg, the possibilities are endless. ←By-product of living alone: you dream BIG.

So Fresh and So Clean

Somehow, cleanliness and roommates are mutually exclusive, they exist on different planes. Nobody sticks to the cleaning schedule and even if somebody did clean, it was hardly noticeable. If this scenario sounds familiar, your housekeeping skills may be lacking.

Do not underestimate the importance of neatness and cleanliness. Think about the last Airbnb you stayed in… somehow the cleaning fee doesn’t feel justified.

I confess that I was not very clean when I lived with other people, it felt pointless. I always washed my dishes and picked up after myself, but I never mopped the floor or cleaned the bathroom.

Fast forward to 2018, where I’m now a neat freak. I don’t let people wear shoes in my house and I clean every room once a week, including my refrigerator. How did this happen?

Ego and pride. I want my apartment to shine and for people to know that this here is the home of a bonafide adult. My home is an extension of myself, so I treat it with respect by keeping it clean.

Leap of faith


Your Own Private Idaho

Roommates (and parents) can be great, but they can also be obstacles to your personal growth. They may enable your laziness or complacency. Conversely, you may rely on them in ways that prevent you from becoming a full-fledged adult.

However, should you be so bold as to strike out on your own––be prepared. The newfound freedom and space will embolden you to evolve into a better version of yourself. It’s like you get to play in your own adult-sized sandbox.

You may find yourself taking on exciting new projects or goals, which you never thought possible before. Living by yourself not only helps create order and discipline in your life, it helps expand your horizons.

Take the leap and live by yourself. Your utopia is waiting for its leader.

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