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Ultimate Life Hacks, As Written By a Teen

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Yes, a real, live, honest-to-goodness teenager has written this post (so you know it’s good). My name’s Rook. Anyway, this blog post is a bunch of life hacks I’ve discovered by living. So, if you want some actually useful life hacks, read on! Let’s get started!

teen girl in Santa hat

1. Mess Happens

Let me give you some revolutionary news: mess happens. Life is messy, people are messy, human kind in general is messy.

And due to the fact that humankind must live life (which is messy) and there are thousands of people (who are all messy) in the world (which is also messy), there is always going to be mess, no matter what.

You can’t stop it, and you can’t be expected to deal with it perfectly. So do not set a stupid goal like “My house will always be clean and organized.” It will not happen. Take some pressure off yourself. 

@dinkumtribe She is so talented at crocheting stuff! Crochet is a stimming thing and one of the ways she manages anxiety. As a side benefit, she ends up with these amazing and useful projects to give away or sell! @DinkumTribe ADHD family travel @DinkumTribe ADHD family travel @DinkumTribe ADHD family travel #crochetersoftiktok #amigurumiscrochet #amigurumi #adhdstimming ♬ fishing for magikarp

2. Everything is Temporary

Whenever we are cleaning, organizing, or doing something, we are normally doing it to make something easier for us at that point in our life. There is literally nothing permanent (except God). Everything. Is. Temporary.

This means that whatever way we do something will not always be the best way to do it. Whatever way we choose to organize something will not always work the best and streamline our day.

Which is, coincidentally, the goal of organizing, because if we can’t find something, we have to find it. That is not streamlining a day; that is spending fifteen minutes hunting for your sunglasses so you can go somewhere and then finding them on the toilet.

So don’t get stuck on doing something because that’s how you’ve always done it. Find easier and faster ways to give your most amazing, exceptional best!

3. Keep Like With Like

When organizing, I find it best to pick one thing and clean up all the other things like it. It helps you get started. It also doesn’t use as much mental space as standing here wondering where to put this, this, and this does.

Girl holding crocheted blankets

4. Feed yourself first

You can’t serve others if you’re not at tip top game. Sure, at times we’re going to have to serve others even when we’re not in tip-top form, but it’ll make it a lot easier to do that if we’ve been doing it continually before.

Pay attention to how you are feeling. If you aren’t able to do something, inform who you’re responsible to inform, and then take time off. Which reminds me, I should really do my Bible time…

5. Be Kind to Yourself and Others

You can’t do everything, you shouldn’t do everything. You can’t be nice to others if you’re not nice to yourself.

6. Your Best Work Comes When You’re Not a Mess

Don’t freak out about assignments and deadlines, and don’t ignore them either. No one thinks straight when they’re scared or stressed. Try to start on assignments that are big and important before it’s one day away. 

teen girl finger crocheting and reading a book

7. Be Responsible

I know this sounds super traditional, but be responsible. People are more likely to help, respect, and like people who are responsible and honorable.

If you make a mistake, be the first one to notice it. Bring it up, apologize, and offer a way to fix things.

8. You can’t do everything, so choose well

Pick the things that are most important to you. Sometimes I get really stuck on all the things I could do better (be a better older sibling, retake quizzes to remember information, plan more often, etc.).

Girl and boy in jackets and hats

But we can’t do everything, and we only have so much time. So use it well!

9. What to Do When You’re Stuck

First: Move on and do it later, or take a break! A lot of the time we just overreact and need to take a break.

Second: Relearn the information on the thing you’re having a problem with. Sometimes we miss something really important.

Third: Find something else to explain it to you. There are loads of ways to learn the same thing! You just need another explanation from someone else!

girl and dad at table with laptop and textbooks tutoring

Fourth: Ask for help! Get tutoring! I know it’s hard but clearly you’re not going to be able to figure this out yourself because you just tried to and it didn’t work.

Fifth: Sometimes, our brains are just not at a stage where they understand this thing. I don’t understand it either, but sometimes they just need to grow a little bit more. And we can’t speed up growing, so if you’ve done everything in your power to understand it, it’s probably not you. Don’t worry about it!

10. Be Creative!

Don’t get so focused on “doing it right” that you become a perfect student! Be original and unique. It’s no fun to “do it right” if you can’t be creative and use your ingenuity.

11. Life Is Not All Rules

Don’t make it that! I used to think that the only way to live life was to obey the rules. However, even rules have to be broken sometimes.

two girls inside van smiling

Have fun in your life! Be yourself instead of being who everyone wants you to be. You hinder your own success when you cease to be yourself in order to succeed.

You hinder your own success when you cease to be yourself in order to succeed.

Rook, Dinkum Tribe

12. On Success in Goals and Doing Your Work

Always consider if this is actually worth the effort and if it’s actually necessary and important. If it’s not, it’s a good idea to not do it.

One of the ways to tell this is to see how much trouble is being put into it and if it’s worth the amount of trouble. If you’re having to fight really hard to succeed in this, there’s a good chance it’s worth the effort.

NOTE: This does not include stupid things like winning arguments about folding laundry. In the long run, who folds the laundry or how the laundry is folded is not important, just that it gets done.

Really think about the importance of it! There’s also the possibility that you’re not winning this because it’s a stupid argument and everyone is noticing it but you!

teen girl on wooden deck with bunches of lavender flower stalks

When Stubbornness is Determination

If you are sure that this is really worth the effort, then you have to stand there, pull out the biggest amount of determination you can muster and say, “Nope, absolutely not! I will not give up on this!”

We can easily rebel to do the things we shouldn’t do. So what if we could take that rebellious determination and use it to do things that are good for us that we should do?

Instead of resisting Mom and saying “No, I will go get a cookie,” what if we resist our temptation and say, “No, I will not get a cookie”? Whenever we choose an action, we are resisting one desire and permitting another.

13. Choose Your Battles

No one’s gonna listen to you if you argue about every little thing. That’s the lesson of The Boy Who Cried Wolf. Don’t lie, and choose your battles.

teen girl with helmet in stable with palomino horse on lead line

14. When You’re Having a Bad Day

First: Admit you’re having a bad day. This is really important because if you don’t admit to a problem, the problem just stays there. Do you really want to continue having bad days? (Hint: Unless you’re some weirdo, the answer is “No, not really.”)

Second: Check to make sure you’re not missing something crucial. I have ADHD and random-particles-in-the-air allergies (commonly known as pollen allergies, but mine are much worse). So if I’m having a bad day, I check to see if I’ve taken all my medications.

For all you normal people, this might mean checking to make sure you had your coffee or tea or whatever, or that you even had any food today. I literally forgot to eat breakfast one morning, so yeah, this happens. Breakfast is crucial, folks! 

Third: Take a break! Do something you don’t normally do. Take a walk, get yourself a doughnut (or Starbucks- Mmm, Starbucks!), listen to a podcast, dance (yes, even in public), doodle, sing Phantom of The Opera or something, make a list- whatever shakes it up.

@dinkumtribe #duet with @Elyse Myers had to duet this because it took me SO LONG to learn this! #boundaries #restisproductive #noisacompletesentence #takeabreak ♬ original sound – Elyse Myers

Make it an activity you can actually do successfully. It feels really good to get something done! Make a tiny goal and celebrate it! 

girl with straw hat and hand on head

Fourth: Fake it ‘til you make it. I really think this is the only thing that phrase is actually positively applicable to. You pretend to be really positive and decide to be really positive, you will become really positive.

It’s like when you decide to get miffed over some tiny little thing and you actually become really miffed about it and then you get miffed about everything.

Fifth: Make the next weekend officially a day off. That will be your self-care day, in which you shall do anything that pleases you, so long as it is good and doesn’t negatively influence other people (so, don’t rob a bank or go binge shopping).

Sixth: Try making each day a challenge to be a positive, nice, loving person no matter how awful it is. I have no clue if this will work, I’m gonna try it myself, but in my experience, I think it will.

girl at piano

15. Remember what’s really important

I’ve recently been listening to a podcast I really like (Hacking Your ADHD with William Curb, part of the ADHD Rewired Podcast Network), and he went through goals and goal setting. It reminded me that goal setting is really important.

You can’t keep it all in your head, because not everything has the same priority, By writing goals down and thinking about them, you can get further and feel like you’re actually doing things.

Look at it this way. How would you feel if you died right now, went to Heaven, looked over your life, and said “Oh shoot! I never got any of the things I actually wanted to get done and valued most done in my life! I was too busy trying to hit the things I thought were more important!” Exactly.

Like one of my favorite hymns says, “Life at best is very brief, like the falling of a leaf, like the binding of a sheaf, be in time.”

Just for perspective, take a second and think about how fast a leaf falls, and how long you’re gonna live in comparison to the years Earth has been around so far. It doesn’t matter how old you believe it is- compared to Earth’s lifespan, you’re a fly. 

16. Don’t Give Up Unless It’s The Right Thing To Do

In some cases, the right thing to do is give up, some cases the right thing to do is keep pushing. But if you never try other things, life’s gonna get really boring. Nobody wants a really boring life.

teen girls woking on jigsaw puzzle

17. Do the Stuff That Takes the Most Brain Power First

The stuff that takes the least amount of brain power goes last. The fun stuff comes when you need a break. Organize your school subjects so you can do that.

For example, my school schedule usually goes: Math, Spanish, History, and ELA whenever I want (I like ELA). I need my tip-top brain for Math; and ELA, although challenging, is fun, and that refreshes me! Hmm, I really need to change this up, I should probably put History before Spanish.

18. Do Not Prioritize in Your Head

Write it down! For some reason, our brains have this misconception that we can properly do many things inside our heads. We can’t.

Part of why we write down math equations is because we can’t calculate 4x-78y(-12x+3)=174 entirely in our heads!

Part of why we write down our plans for the day is because we can’t properly and effectively plan the day in our heads. Our brains are inside human beings and human beings make about 1,000 mistakes a day. Also our brains are the things that keep everything in our bodies going, so they’re gonna make mistakes!

girl and boy at table working on laptop

Math and laundry do not take equal amounts of time and attention, yet our brain (trying to simplify for us so we don’t have to thoroughly think through every detail) decides that they do!

We must write things down, otherwise we’re going to put “Finish Job Application” and “Brush My Teeth” at the same level of priority. One is going to get done, while the other is sadly neglected (guess which one? If you said the job application, you’re correct).

19. Use Timers

Set timers for the stuff you really don’t like doing, so you don’t suffer through the whole thing without relief. Then you know when it’s gonna be done and you can have a break from the suffering.

Set a timer for your break too! Just make sure it’s a nice long one (the less time you have to spend on the thing you hate, the better, right? Not really).

20. Learn to be unafraid of making mistakes

You are a good, healthy, awesome person when you make mistakes. Instead of worrying about it, understand that it happens, learn from it, admit it, and keep bouncing!

© Copyright 2021 Rook and Dinkum Tribe

Rook has written a series of posts about ADHD in teen girls, from her own experience. Check out Part 1 and Part 2.

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About the author

Hey y'all! I'm Rook, one of the daughters of Brian and Jenn Warren, the creators and official "blogmasters" of Dinkum Tribe. I'm an ADHDer, a teenager, a Christian, and a contributor to the blog. I love writing, creating, and learning, and I can usually be found making something, learning something, doing something, or playing the piano. I'm looking forward to contributing more to the blog in the future, and I can't wait to see what Dinkum Tribe blossoms into, I bet it's gonna be fantastic!


    1. Thank you! Your encouragement is greatly appreciated, and I’ll try to continue writing (to the best of my ability)! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  1. Goodness she looks just like you! Wise words from an obviously smart, well-rounded kiddo, raised by incredible parents! You’ve done well mama! Tell the wise one that I said well done!

  2. Rook, what a great little writer you are! I love reading your posts…and I also love that your crochet and puzzle! You have given some great advice on life hacks and it is oh so much frun to read from a teen’s point of view.
    Mom, I love how you incorporate the family….such a fun blog!

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