Last time, I talked about living a balanced life. Today I’m going to provide some practical steps that can be implemented to achieve it.
First, we should probably face some facts:
1. There are a lot of good things to do. Small Notebook talked about this yesterday in this post; both the post and comments provide a lot of insight about what happens when you try to do them all.
2. You cannot do everything! This is an important thing to learn, especially for women who are proud of the fact that they are “natural multi-taskers.” When you use it to try to do everything at once, nothing gets done well and you get burned out in the process.
3. The fewer things you do, the better you can do them. I think everyone learns this at some point or another, usually after a burnout.
If you think about your time and energy like you do money, you realize that you only have a certain amount for any given thing and you have to budget it accordingly. You wouldn’t spend all your money on designer shoes and forget to pay your rent/mortgage payment. Even if you don’t like budgeting your money, it’s important to establish the most important things to spend it on, and use whatever is left over for extras. The same is true for time.
Perhaps the most important tip I can give you is this: Decide what you actually spend time on, and go from there.
I had to learn this when budgeting money; every month, I would get so caught up in how I could spend it that I didn’t look at how I actually spent it. When I did look, I found that any extra money I had would either be spent at a restaurant or a bookstore. When I discovered this, I learned a lot about myself.
As for time, look at how you actually spend the free time you have. When you have a spare minute, what does your mind drift toward? Do you read, or clean, or (let’s be honest) Facebook, or scroll through design blogs?
The most important thing is not to berate yourself for not spending your time better. There is, for everyone, the “ideal” way to spend time, but just like an ideal budget, it hardly ever works out that way. When you budget time or money around what you actually do, it is much more fulfilling in the long run.
Additionally, watch out for time suckers. These are two fold: 1. things that you actually do but may be budgeting too much time for, and 2. things that you do without knowing why.
You’ve looked at what you actually do and allowed that into your time budget, but, just like all those times I spent too much money on eating out or books, you allocate too much time for it. Remember that the point of simplicity is moderation; do what you love, but don’t let it control your life.
The same is true for the second time sucker. I think of this one as television or mindless internet surfing. It’s the thing where hours later, you look up and think, “Is it that time already!?” (I call them “computer comas,” since we don’t have a television, and it is one of the reasons I have implemented “internet-free days,” which I will definitely be talking about on here in the future. P.S. It’s also one of the reasons my posts have been so few and far between lately. Sorry!)
Our lives are full of possibilities, but unfortunately, we can’t live all of those possibilities at once. When you can’t do everything, it is vital to examine and be selective about what you choose to do. Then, when all is said and done, do it and rest assured that you chose the most important things.