To use a favorite analogy of my coworker Karl, life is like spinning a bunch of plates in the air, trying to keep them from crashing to the ground and shattering into a million pieces.
I tend to think of my own life like a Venn diagram with five circles: Exercise/outdoor adventure, work, home, a social life and basically all the other things I enjoy or feel fulfilled doing (volunteering, learning new skills just because, writing on this blog). Balance is achieved in the center of the Venn diagram, when I feel as though I am putting enough effort into each of those facets of life.
But, I never do feel balanced. I never feel as though I am giving enough attention to all of those things at once. I have my priorities, and they go something like this:
- Exercise/outside time. If I don’t do these things on a regular basis, everything else suffers greatly.
- Work. It’s work. And most of the cause of my feeling unbalanced, I think. More on that in a minute.
- A social life. Which tends to fluctuate based on how stressed out I am with work (more stressed = me being a hermit).
- Home. Consists of making sure my house doesn’t look like a hurricane went through it.
- Everything else. All the things I feel like I don’t have time for.
I feel as though I can maintain two of these at a time really well. Three, sort of. But four or five? Forget it. I might be kicking ass at work but not getting enough bike ride time in. The house might be super clean but that’s just because I can’t concentrate on work and working from home means always getting distracted by that pile of laundry that needs to be folded or the carpet dirt that is staring at me (I thought I just vacuumed?). Not to mention that list of other things that I’d like to do but don’t seem to have time for.
I think the nature of my somewhat-flexible and self-motivated schedule combined with working from home exacerbates this constant feeling of panic. I’m always trying to arrange my day for maximum efficiency and productivity in creative endeavors while taking advantage of “doldrum” periods for more active tasks or exercise to keep me awake. I haven’t yet found a perfect solution. There are days when I feel like I come close. Once every couple of weeks, I feel really productive and accomplished when I go to bed. I try to replicate it the next day to no avail.
Ideally, there would be 36 hours in a day so that I could sleep for 12 of them and still have so much time for everything else. But that isn’t going to happen, so I need to figure out another way to manage my time better and/or feel less panicked about all the things I’m not doing.
Anyone have any tips?
I will say, I am very fortunate to have friends who love to join me on outdoor adventures and a job that I’m passionate about (which can be a negative thing but it’s also a positive thing) so that I can check off at least three of my circles all at once, like I did yesterday. A bike ride with friends, on a bike that I’m reviewing for the magazine, so it was part work.
And I’m writing about it on my blog now, so I guess that falls under circle number 5. Maybe I’m doing alright. Now if only the house would clean itself.