Have you ever had the fantasy that you could wake up, swing your feet over the edge of the bed, arch your back into a refreshing stretch and let the day unfold without any effort on your part? I mean no effort what..... so ...... ever.
Is that a lazy man or woman's idyllic scenario or the average, overly taxed, working person's cry for relief!
Either way, all work and no downtime make Jack and Jill a frazzled mess.
Question is how do you strike a balance in your life that allows you to meet your daily demands while still rejuvenating yourself, when your days are scheduled down to 15-minute increments? How can you add one or two more commitments to your life when you feel you are at the breaking point already? Is it possible to find more time for yourself without lobbying our President for a 28-hour day?
The answer is "yes", if you prioritize.
Prioritization can be your friend. Look at it like a closet cleaning exercise, only for your schedule. When you clean your closet you put items into piles: junk, keep, donate and "Hmmm, I'll think about it."
The same categorization process can help you clean up your schedule and make time for critical, restorative activities.
Why bother restoring ourselves in the first place? Studies have shown over and over again that our modern, lifestyles, in urban centers especially, tax us in ways that create a constant drag on our overall health. When our days constantly take from us, we have to find ways to give back to ourselves. I don't think they mean by watching mindless TV, eating a late night bag of chips or ice cream or falling asleep searching the Internet.
KEEP PILE If you are feeling overwhelmed and out of balance, approach your schedule as if it needs a bit of house cleaning. There are demands we must make time for, i.e., working, eating, sleeping, worshiping (for many), spending time with your children and your spouse, managing bills and household tasks. Clearly that's about 23 hours of commitments right there, but we push on.
JUNK PILE This is where you can may unearth a gold mine of chances for more balance, that is if you track how you spend your day and answer honestly whether this is something you HAVE to do. For instance, are you throwing time away watching senseless television? Do you get caught up in the Internet offerings, to include facebook correspondence, "happy" forwarded notes, and aimless online googling or window-shopping?
DONATE PILE In closet terms, these items that are still useful, just not to you anymore. The same premise can serve you when you are looking at your schedule. Ask yourself, does this activity get me closer to my personal and family goals and or does it help to restore you in a real, tangible way? If the answer is "no", this time consuming activity or relationship can be donated to someone else who has "time to kill".
THINK ABOUT IT This pile is a lot like the donate pile, it just gives you more time to consider whether this activity is really moving you closer to living the life you want to live. Take for instance those 45 minute phone chats with your close friends. While that is a part of striking a balance by maintaining loving connections in your life, did you do that everyday this week? Is that because you are in an especially challenging time in your life and you needed those moments of support? Did you feel better afterward?
The insanely crazy part about striking a balance, so we are stronger and more relaxed, is it takes even more effort on our part. We have to put aside "required work", to make room for "voluntary work." Let's face it, exercise can be dreadful, before we get started and during. It is, however, sheer joy when we are done. Driving to and packing for a yoga or meditation hour feels like more work, more schlepping, more effort for goodness sake!! But it's the balance we need to keep this busy ship afloat.
So, while we are all too familiar with grumbling complaints that we are all busy, and we wish we didn't have to work, bear in mind, that given a choice, most of us wouldn't have it any other way.
We can do it. I know we can.
Which brings me to another thing...... we'll talk about that next time.