Getting the Balance Right

What excuse do you use?

My common ones are:

  • I just don’t have the time.
  • I can’t pop in and out of writing like that. It takes 20 minutes to get into the swing.
  • Just after this one ——.

Each is grounded in reality. Each has a great reason behind it: I don’t always have my life balance right. And you know, I am not embarrassed to say that.

In my life, I identify as woman, wife, mother, worker, writer, pet owner, daughter, friend, redactor, reenactor, geek, fan-girl, immigrant, dyslexic, and so many other titles. Each of these identifiers takes time. It can be something as minor as explaining where I am from originally to the lovely lass helping me with my purchases which only take a few minutes of my time, to something more substantial such as spending the night at the bedside of a sick family member and missing work the next day because I need sleep.

Any little hiccup in a well thought out schedule can lead to chaos. Each little second lost flows into a minute and, before long, it becomes an hour lost. We add that one grain of sand to the wrong side and the scale tips off balance. When this happens to me, I am inclined to go one of two ways. Neither is healthy. The first is to apologise heartily for the disruption to other’s schedules and to make any excuse I can to ‘keep the friendship’. The other is to erupt in anger. Anger at the thing that ‘made me late’ or at myself – or worse yet, at my family. Neither of these are adequate ways to react when the scales fall. I know that. It’s something that I am working on.

There are three things that are helping with my work/family/fun/writing life balance right now. The first is a schedule that the entire family has agreed to. We all have our ‘things’ and we all pitch in to help the others. Excellent. That works when it does. Sometimes it doesn’t.

The second is learning to say, “no”. I sat down with my to-do list for next year. After putting together the blog posts, novel publishing hopes, short stories, and competitions I want to enter, I realised that I could not do it all in the number of hours I have. I had to compromise. I decided that one blog only really needed updating twice a month, another (this one) I still wanted to produce content for every week. I have a ‘one blog a month’ commitment to a travel blog. Just by saying no to the two to three blog posts per month for that one blog, I found my schedule was more manageable. Then I looked at the competitions I like to enter. There is only really one that I am wedded to. So, I will do that one. If I happen to eke out a few more, great, but they are not in the balance themselves.

The last is that I am learning to forgive myself when I don’t achieve everything on my list. I realise that that list is just too long. Why should I feel badly for not achieving super-human?

Recently a writer friend of mine explained to me that she hadn’t had time to reply to my query about her next visit because she was so swamped with her work (professional writers are all single-minded workaholics, I am convinced). I explained to her that I completely understood. You see, I know that she has not worked out the right balance in her life. She’ll get it. I have faith in that.

I have faith that I will get it too. That one day I will have the balance between all that makes me, me. Until then, I will be happy with my winning days and try to focus just a bit harder on the out of balance days to equalise that scale.

How’s about you? I have faith that you can do it. Do you?

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