The balancing act

“Unfortunately there are only 24 hours in a day, and we sleep for about 8 of them. Subtract the hours we spend eating (3), showering and dressing and fixing up (1), cleaning and running errands (1), driving (2), working (8) … and you’re left with an hour or two at most. Often less.”


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It’s so true. As Nigel Marsh says in this Ted talk, balance isn’t something we can achieve every single day – we should measure and assess it over a period of time.

It’s four months into the year – the year that I wanted to strive for more balance, more harmony and more zen.  I’ve realised I can’t devote time to all of my hobbies every day or even every other day.  Especially with my (often fluid) work schedule, which is not always conducive to it.

Quite honestly, the life I want to live looks something like this: Peaceful. Relaxed. Healthy.

To achieve that, I need more consistency in life. Routine, if you like. “That’s so boring!” T said, after I lectured about the importance of routine after the millionth time he’d been unable to find his keys in the morning. Okay, so I’m boring, but I do like holding on to a semblance of sanity. We’re both, to put it nicely, scatterbrains. I strive for organisation, but never manage to fully get it together.

Things that matter to me: cooking and eating a good dinner every evening if possible (some nights are better than others…my limp-wristed efforts after a long day recently were greeted by “This looks like prison food” by the boy. Tasted good though). The last few weeks have been an absolute shambles, having no time to grocery shop, running out of food, getting home at 9pm or later. I may have to loosen my control-freak reins and delegate food shopping more often – and write produce lists, or we’ll end up with no veggies at all.

Getting enough sleep. Not negotiable. If this means leaving the party when everyone is still going strong (unless there’s some compelling reason to stay) then so be it.

Couple time.  Especially important to me, as we work such different hours and share no days off.

Finding time for the things you love

As a diehard introvert, I need me-time to relax and recharge. (Don’t get me wrong, I come home on an absolute HIGH after a good time out, but I can’t sustain the social thing for too long.) Some things are easier to slot into a schedule than others. I can read on the bus, before bed, on a lunch break. If I had a smart phone, I could catch up on blogs while commuting or waiting in line at the bank. You probably have an equivalent you can fit in on the go.

Others, like heading out on a walk to do some photography, require a little more time and planning, and happen less often. Or tackling that crockpot recipe, or that labour-intensive cinnamon roll.

I like to have a solid block of at least a few hours when I’m learning a new song, so that’s best done on my days off when T isn’t around. But that doesn’t mean those are the only times I can play. Lately, I’ve been slacking on the boring things like practicing chords, scales and exercises – and I can’t rely solely on the excuse of disturbing the peace (unplugged does not mean silent) because really, I just haven’t wanted to. Yet those are easy to bust out mindlessly for 10 minutes after dinner or while The Big Bang Theory is on.

I think this is the hardest part of trying to fit it all in. All the fun things, that come easily to you – you will manage to find some time for. But the things we love can also be extremely hard work: working out, writing a novel, playing an instrument. Motivating yourself to also fit in the groundwork, the boring but essential bits, is tough.

How do you kick yourself into gear to “just do it”?

10 thoughts on “The balancing act

  • Reply FB @ FabulouslyBroke.com April 22, 2011 at 00:52

    3 things a day that are really important. I get lazy, so if I don’t make a list each day of 3 important (achievable within a day) things… well, I don’t do anything at all. 🙂

  • Reply Kelly April 22, 2011 at 01:47

    I also feel like I have to put things on my to do list- even things I love to do or they won’t get done 🙂 That’s just how it is I guess!

  • Reply Clare - Never Niche April 22, 2011 at 08:48

    Lovely post! I set up a reward for after I Do the Thing. For example. I love Bengal Spice tea from Celestial Seasonings after a long day at work. I tell myself I can’t have it until I go running and it makes me put my shoes on and get back out the door.

  • Reply NewlywedsBudget April 22, 2011 at 11:24

    I love “me” time and I find myself extremely lucky that my husband works 24-hour shifts a few times a week because that means I don’t have to feel guilty for not being able to spend time with him when I want to do just “me” stuff. We both get “me” time and it works out perfectly!
    I like to get a lot done, in the form of errands, but i also know when i just need to veg out in front of the TV.

  • Reply bakebooks April 23, 2011 at 14:23

    Thank you for coming to my blog! So glad I found yours…money? Time? Living for ourselves? Check, check and check.

    I look forward to exploring more 🙂

  • Reply First Gen American April 24, 2011 at 08:48

    For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a “learn one new thing a year rule”. I’ve been out of school for 15 years and I’ve gotten good at quite a lot of stuff. Hopefully we will have long lives and even if you just manage to do something you like once a week, over a lifetime, it’s still a lot of hours logged on the things that are the most important to you.

    I also learned that it takes years to get good at certain things like sports, art, etc and that’s okay.

    I always make lists but they are more goals by season. Ie, what vacations I want to take, how many times I want to go to the beach, etc.

  • Reply Romeo April 24, 2011 at 16:47

    The perfect balance is definitely something that I am striving for. Building my blog takes a lot of time, but it’s something that I enjoy and hopefully does not take too much time away from family, somthing else that is truly important to me. I guess the best we can do, it what you talked about, prioritize and then commit. Nice Post.

  • Reply Serendipity April 26, 2011 at 06:52

    I find it extremely hard for me to find balance at times. I always want to do a million things and make a huge list and have goals for myself, but quite often I’m not sure how to get there, overwhelm myself or just forget. I think I need to really sit down and make a to do list but try FB’s comment above. Thank you for writing about this. You’re not alone in finding balance at all.

  • Reply hannahkaty April 27, 2011 at 13:00

    With the shortage of hours left in my day, I wonder where to fit my true passions in! I need to get better at this balancing act clearly.

  • Reply Link love (Powered by faulty tech and early dawns) | Musings of an Abstract Aucklander April 7, 2012 at 12:09

    […] One year ago I ran my first 10k, pondered a certain money mindset I’ve observed among the perennially broke and mused on the great balancing act of life […]

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