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23 Things Every Grown-Ass Adult Should Do

Tiny steps to adulthood you can take right now.

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1. Find a calendar and to-do list system that works for you and actually use it.

Becky Barnicoat / BuzzFeed

Maybe it's a single app. Maybe it's a combination of apps (like Google Calendar + Wunderlist). Maybe it's an app + an IRL solution. (I use Google Calendars and my bullet journal to stay on track.)

Whatever system you choose, just make sure it'll be available pretty much everywhere, and will make it possible to see both work and home-related items without too much trouble. Using the Reminders app on your iPhone is fine, but where are you putting your work to-dos when you're using a PC at work? If you never carry a purse or bag, does using a bulky physical planner most sense? No system is perfect, but checking your calendar or seeing what's on your to-do list should probably never take more than 24 hours.

2. Check your bank account.

Dami Lee / BuzzFeed

Check it every day. Even if you can only do it with one eye open at first. It's fine. Honestly, the more often you check it, the less terrifying it becomes.

3. Learn all of your logins and passwords.

Lizz Hickey / BuzzFeed

Managing every password you've created over the past five years to satisfy 30 different websites' rules and remembering all the different logins (is it an email address or is it a username?!) is so stressful, and can be a huge barrier to doing important tasks like paying your bills or tracking down your W-2s. So take an hour to update all your passwords and use a free site like Dashlane or LastPass to ensure you stop forgetting them once and for all. (Get more A+ password tips here.)

4. Create a separate email account for bills/home admin.

Mackenzie Kruvant / BuzzFeed

One way to help with #3 is to set up a separate Gmail account that's just for home admin-related accounts. That way, important items don't get lost in the glut of 20% off coupons and bachelorette party planning emails, and you won't waste time trying to remember if you log into an important website with your gmail or your college .edu email. Once you set up the new email, take 60 seconds to check the new email every day so you don't miss anything important.

BTW, I strongly recommend doing this if you're moving in with your significant other for the first time! Having a separate shared email address and a separate set of go-to passwords for your shared accounts means that if one of you needs to know, say, the account number for your home internet, they aren't waiting on the other to find the login and try a bunch of passwords before inevitably being locked out of the site, etc.

5. Open your bills and actually read them.

Mike Hinson / BuzzFeed

Look, I'm not even saying you have to PAY them. (I mean, you should pay them, but this post is about things that cost no money.) I am saying that you should get in the habit of opening them and reading through them, noting important things like how much money you owe, any weird charges or fees (because erroneous charges do happen!), and when the money is due. A pile of unopened bills is a very popular stop on the route to Defaultingonyourstudentloansville, a destination I REALLY DISCOURAGE YOU FROM EVER VISITING. I know opening them is stressful, but the alternative is so much worse. Take it from a mostly reformed financial disaster: They will find you. So open and read your bills, fam.

6. Follow instructions.

Adam Ellis / BuzzFeed

Before you start putting that Ikea bookshelf together, read the instructions. Before you buy a plant, read about how much light it needs and how often you need to water it. Then give it light and water accordingly. Before you buy new clothes, check out the care instructions and then agree that you're going to actually follow them. If the prescription bottle says "don't mix with alcohol and take for seven days," DON'T MIX WITH ALCOHOL AND TAKE FOR SEVEN DAYS.

One of the adultiest things you can do is take care of your belongings. Not reading or following the instructions makes it much harder to do that.

7. Show up on time.

Zoe Burnett / BuzzFeed

Being chronically late sucks. It wastes other people's time and is hella inconsiderate. But it sucks for you, the late person, too! Rushing around, feeling anxious about being late, worrying about getting a speeding ticket, having to apologize yet again for being tardy...these are not enjoyable activities! So start being honest with yourself about how long it takes to get from point A to point B and how long it takes you to do all those "quick" tasks.

8. Don't snoop.

Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

Going through other people's stuff — digital or physical — isn't funny or cute or harmless; it's creepy, immature, and can be a sign of an abusive relationship. If you are snooper, stop. Immediately.

9. If a problem could be solved by picking up your phone and placing a phone call... pick up your phone and place the damn call.

Lizz Hickey / BuzzFeed

Plenty of things these days can be done without making phone calls, thank goodness. But a lot of things can't. Sadly, you cannot just ignore doing important tasks because they cannot be done via text message.

To give you an example: One time, I was working with an accountant (stressful) to do taxes (STRESSFUL!) and I finally got around to emailing her all of the necessary tax forms and then didn't hear from her. I sent her a couple of follow-up emails and never heard back, and then was like, OH WEIRD HUH WELL I DID MY PART SO I GUESS I'LL JUST KEEP USING THAT AS AN EXCUSE FOR WHY I'M AVOIDING DEALING WITH MY TAXES!

That was an absurd thing to do! I knew this accountant was a Phone Person (ugh) and yet I just didn't want to call her because I'm a millennial who thinks phone calls are ew. Once I finally stopped being ridiculous and picked up the phone and called her, the problem was solved immediately.

If you are having trouble getting something taken care of and you know, deep down, that using your phone would probably help, just do it.

10. Get enough sleep.

Maritsa Patrinos / BuzzFeed

If you're working three jobs and going to school and there are just not enough hours in the day, this is not for you. But if you're going out every night because FOMO, or yelling at strangers on Facebook while watching reruns of Gilmore Girls on Netflix as the night slowly gets away from you... go to bed.

11. Instead of saying yes to someone and then flaking, just say no up front.

Adam Ellis / BuzzFeed

Being an adult means knowing yourself and your priorities and owning your life. So if someone invites you to do something and you don't really want to do it, just politely opt out as soon as soon as you receive the invite!

I've found that when I say no to things, people are often relieved. Because even if they are disappointed that I'm saying no to their request, they realize they've been given permission to set boundaries of their own in the future. I think the fact that "no" is an actual option sometimes surprises people! Which leads me to...

12. Respect other people when they say no to you.

Hallie Bateman / BuzzFeed

We all need to be better about saying no, but the flip side of that is that we all need to be better about hearing no. Making people feel guilty for saying no — something a lot of people, especially women, really struggle to do — is bad for everyone. So be the one in your friend group who accepts a genuine, up front, "no, sorry, I can't" with a chill, "cool, got it, roger that." It will come back to you tenfold when you need to say no in the future, and will make your relationships much more pleasant and supportive.

13. Learn people's names and learn to pronounce them correctly.

Anjali Patel / Via buzzfeed.com

Mindy Kaling summed this up perfectly in her first book, writing, "I don’t think it should be socially acceptable for people to say they are 'bad with names.' No one is bad with names. That is not a real thing. Not knowing people’s names isn’t a neurological condition; it’s a choice. You choose not to make learning people’s names a priority. It’s like saying, 'Hey, a disclaimer about me: I’m rude.'" Get tips for remembering people's names here.

As for people who routinely mispronounce the names of friends, co-workers, and acquaintances, despite being told how to say it properly — or, worse, take it upon themselves to give the person a "hard to pronounce name" a nickname that they think is "prettier" and oh my god I'm having a rage blackout rn — STOP. FIGURE IT OUT. DO BETTER.

14. Clean up your vocabulary.

Lizz Hickey / BuzzFeed

It has come to my attention that there are people out there who still think it's OK to say they got "raped" because someone was better than them at a video game, or to call things they don't like "retarded" or "gay." It's not! Words matter. Do better.

15. Stop losing your keys.

Mackenzie Kruvant / BuzzFeed

I would suggest Tile, but I promised we'd do this without spending a dime, so instead I'll recommend putting them in the same spot every day when you get home. It's the oldest trick in the book because it actually works.

16. Get a primary care physician.

Becky Barnicoat / BuzzFeed

Obviously actually going to the doctor may cost you money, so take this suggestion with a grain of salt! But if you are insured, get yourself a regular health care provider and see them now, while you're (presumably) healthy. That way, when you come down with a raging sinus infection, your options won't be limited to "pretend I'm fine and make everyone else around me sick," "attempt to navigate my insurance provider's website and call a bunch of doctors, as snot runs down my face and I hack up a lung, pathetically asking if they accept new patients and if they can see me, like, tomorrow," and "go to the ER."

17. Knock all of your annual health care appointments out at the same time each year.

Adam Ellis / BuzzFeed

Going to your annual (or semi-annual) doctor, dentist, gynecologist, and eye doctor appointments isn't particularly fun, so it's easy to put the appointments off, or lose track of them when you move/change insurance providers/really can't miss work right now/etc. One easy way to make sure you're getting them taken care of is to schedule them all for the same month every year. Like, Oh, hello, it's March, which means it's time to get my teeth cleaned and my cervix inspected!

18. Start keeping track of health-related things.

Ellie Sunakawa / BuzzFeed

I finally started doing this in my late twenties after I realized that every time I went to the doctor, they 'd ask me for the first date of my last period and I'd always have to pull out my phone, scroll back in my calendar, and then just guesstimate when exactly it was. After this happened several times — and I felt like a flake every time — I started using a period tracker app. Problem solved! What took me so long?!

Tracking body-related things (migraines, headaches, anxiety, trouble sleeping) is also helpful because it helps you spot patterns that could be signs of something bigger and it comes in handy when there is a problem and your doctor inevitably asks you, "When did you first notice this?" Now you have receipts! (Get ideas for tracking your health here.)

19. Create a living will.

Haejin Park / BuzzFeed

Perhaps you don't watch too much Law & Order: SVU and thus frequently worry about your untimely death like I do. Maybe the idea of thinking about your death or being in a vegetative state makes you deeply uncomfortable. Fair! But having a living will (which is called an advanced health care directive in some states, BTW) isn't really about you; it's about your loved ones. Having one means that if something absolutely horrible happens, your poor family won't be left wondering/arguing about what you'd want them to do. Which is a very real and very awful thing that happens to a lot of families (even yours!) in the face of tragedy, and which you, thoughtful adult human, can help prevent.

I made my living will using Legal Zoom and made sure my mom and husband know where it is. (I also made an actual will while I was at it — because even though I don't have any actual money, I do have a ton of published work and some thoughts on what I'd like done with it, and my body, after I die. Seemed like a good idea to get that all down on paper.)

20. Register to vote and then actually vote.

Mike Hinson / BuzzFeed

Vote in the midterms. Vote for city council. Vote on local ordinances. Vote in the primaries. Vote for the state lawmakers and judges who have a huge impact on the issues that you care about and the laws that effect a lot of people. Vote because so many people still cannot, or for years could not. Vote, vote, vote, vote, vote, vote, vote.

22. Mind ya business.

Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

To quote Kara Brown in this excellent piece (seriously, read the whole thing): "We exist in a time where over-sharing is not just the norm, but is often expected, defended, and celebrated ... Consider this: If something wasn’t relayed to you — an uninvolved party — you probably weren’t told for a reason. Maybe there are safety or legal ramifications, or someone wants to have the whole picture in front of them before they go about announcing anything. Or, more simply, you just ain’t in the circle. Some things are shared on a need-to-know basis and sorry, you don’t need to know. And when you don’t need to know, poking into somebody else’s business and asking invasive questions makes you look like a tactless asshole."

23. Related: Don't be an asshole.

Adam Ellis / BuzzFeed

We've all had those moments when we are hit with an extremely strong urge to say something snotty, mean, snarky, petty, hurtful, and, ultimately, unnecessary.

But making the decision to not say the thing is often what separates the adults from the wittle tiny babies with their wittle baby bottles. Remember: Shutting the fuck up is free.

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