What To Do When You Can’t Do Everything

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.


2 thoughts on “What To Do When You Can’t Do Everything

  1. When you are young and energetic, it may seem you never have enough time to do everything you want to do. When you are old, time is your enemy. The days are long and drawn out, while you wait in usually a frail body that no longer can do anything it really wants to do. It reminds me of a song that I listened to when I was young, it has much more meaning now that I am older.

    If I could save time in a bottle
    The first thing that I’d like to do
    Is to save every day
    Till Eternity passes away
    Just to spend them with you

    If I could make days last forever
    If words could make wishes come true
    I’d save every day like a treasure and then
    Again, I would spend them with you

    But there never seems to be enough time
    To do the things you want to do
    Once you find them
    I’ve looked around enough to know
    That you’re the one I want to go
    Through time with

    If I had a box just for wishes
    And dreams that had never come true
    The box would be empty
    Except for the memory
    Of how they were answered by you

    But there never seems to be enough time
    To do the things you want to do
    Once you find them
    I’ve looked around enough to know
    That you’re the one I want to go
    Through time with– Jim Croce

  2. I love your post (saw the link on simplemom and came over to meet you) – I am also of the opinion that all of us (me included) need to get less busy and more purposeful about life 🙂

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