Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Balancing Act

Last week over on Jill K's blog she talked about Balance. Balance is something I'm often searching to find.

After a late-night talk with my husband about about a billion subjects (We've been known to stay up all night talking about stuff, sharing old memories, and just enjoying each other's company.) he reminded me of a personality trait I have that can be a great strength, but also a weakness.

I'm a driven person. When I get my teeth into a project, I don't want to give up until it is done. Whether it's cleaning the basement, completing my Bachelor's Degree after my daughter was born, or writing fiction for the CBA, I set a goal and then do everything in my power to accomplish it.

This can be a good thing. I do get lots done. It can also be a major obstacle to finding balance in my life.

So, how to balance things and still accomplish my goals?

First, I need to recognize that I can't do it all, so some things will have to be set aside. I can't write novels and spend hours cross-stitching. I can't write novels and read five novels a week. I can't write novels and say yes to every opportunity to serve at church that comes along. Now, there's nothing wrong with any of these things, and there's a lot right about it. But I can't do it all.

Second, I need to recognize areas where I can streamline my processes.
  • Make out a menu for the week and a shopping list, so I'm not wondering at 4 pm every day what we're going to have for supper and if I have the ingredients for it.
  • Schedule blogs. Write them out in advance as much as possible on the weekend so I'm not scrambling the night before to think of a topic and write a post.
  • Be selective on the books I can read and review on the blog. I belong to several publishers' email lists, and they send many tempting offers of free books, but I have to be very selective, knowing what I hage time for and what I have to say no to.
  • Do bookkeeping, schooling, and read emails and blogs in the forenoon. Save afternoons for writing.
  • Bunch my errands so I'm not making multiple trips to town. On Mondays when my kids have piano lessons, I drive them to their lesson, and instead of sitting in the car reading a novel, I go to the bank, the grocery store, the post office, and the gas station.
Third, I need to listen to the needs of my family and use them as a barometer for when I'm too focussed on my goals and not giving them the time they need. I need to encourage them to discuss this honestly, and not take it personally. I need to put into practice what I'm learning in Sunday School about correction and rebuke.
So, how do you go about finding balance in your life? How do you balance family, work, writing, church, etc.?


  1. Balance is a tricky one. YOu have some great ideas. I like planning out the weekly meals. I feel better if I know what I am cooking ahead of time. I hate trying to think of something come 5pm. And time with Hubbie gets written on the calendar weeks ahead. Special things like weekends away, date nights etc.

    Love all your ideas.

  2. I'm still trying to figure that one out! I think your plan is fabulous!

  3. GREAT ideas!

    This is something I'm praying about a lot right now too. It's hard, because seriously, if I look at everything God is calling me to do, plus the things I HAVE to do (aka my job) then there isn't enough time to do it all.

    And lately, my time with God is what has been going by the wayside, that and my ability to be a good Mom. Geez, what's wrong with me? Those are two of the most important things that should be TOPPING my list, not suffering somewhere in the middle.

    *sigh* Still working on it. I'm a true WIP I guess!

  4. OH, so we're supposed to BALANCE. LOL! JK. When I start to get out of balance, I automatically feel that writing is the first that is "supposed" to get tossed aside. Maybe because it's the one I personally want the most. The other thing I really scale back on is internet time, then when I hit cruising altitude I add it back in. Must pray more, that's for sure.

  5. You just gave me my blog topic for Thurs! TY

  6. Sounds like a good plan. I do a lot of the same things. I write up a meal calendar for the week, so I know what to get at the grocery store and what I can prepare for any given night of the week.

    I write down ideas for blog posts any time I get them, so I have a running page of ideas I can peek at for ideas when my post day comes. I also try to schedule household chores, as well as errands and blogging and such at the same time every day or every week so I get into the rhythm and get things done as fast as possible. Oh, and Unplug Week--super helpful!

  7. I'm very similar - I try to do everything, and end up stressing out over trying to do too much. Thank goodness I don't have kids - no way could I balance work, the house, and writing with trying to raise a family (so kudos to those of you who do!).

    I'm very routine oriented. My PDA is my friend - I schedule *everything*, right down to starting and switching laundry after work. I have alarms going off to remind me of many things throughout the evening. I keep trying and failing on the meal planning, but when I get it right, it sure helps a lot. My writing time is scheduled too - 10:30pm to midnight, every night except Sundays, usually.

    Good luck maintaining that balance...it's relatively easy to gain for a day or two, but so hard to maintain over the long haul.

  8. Coming up with blog ideas and writing them up on the weekend, instead of the night before? Whoa! I never thought of that. I thought that was what getting up at 4 AM was for: wake up, grab cup of coffee, stumble downstairs to computer, mash on keyboard for a bit, post supposed blog content, head back to bed for a bit, wake up again only to realize what I posted on my blog didn't make a bit of sense... at least to anyone but me. Oh well.

    This balance thing you speak of, can you 'splain it su'more!?

  9. Thanks so much for the shout out, Erica! I can totally relate to your post. I think we're in similar phases in our life. My family means the world to me, and I don't want my writing goals to compete with the time I have for them.

    Awareness and schedule tweaks make such a difference, don't they?

    Thanks again!

  10. I don't know, but I kind of mentally think of stuff like you did. I've forced myself to stop commenting on blogs giving away books because I'm winning so many and don't have enough time so they're stacking by my bed.

    Great list!

  11. Erica, I'm glad you put your family needs first. Kids grow up fast. I do think, though, that sometimes being busy makes me more organized. I work well with lists and calendars, and when my kids were home, I definitely did the meal planning thing.

    You're very insightful. Good post.