Saturday, 15 March 2014

Balanced Challenge: Day 5: Balancing Your Calendar

Some parts of Balanced have been challenging, forcing me to rethink the way I'm approaching a certain situation or topic. Others, like today's chapter, are encouraging and make me think, "Huh, I'm already dealing with this quite well." 

I'm not the kind of person who schedules every minute detail of my life on a calendar, as I've already revealed. But that doesn't mean that I fall prey to accidentally overscheduling myself either, and I'm thankful for my mum's lessons in this. I don't follow my parents' examples in everything, but one life lesson that my mum did teach me (perhaps even unintentionally) was that it's okay to say "No" to opportunities, even if it is something that you like the sound or know will benefit someone. I remember a point in my childhood when my mum was doing a lot of things--working full-time, helping me and my brother with our homework in the evenings, shouldering a large part of the housework and volunteering at church, among many other things. She hit her breaking point, and I remember her making a big deal about learning how to say "No" in the future to stop herself getting over-stretched.

Tricia's challenge for today was to go through my schedule and split items into those I need to do (housework, grocery shopping), those I should do (attend church, spend time with extended family), those I want to do (write, work for TCM) and those I feel obligated to do. The last category is namely for things I do because I feel guilty if I don't do them, or I do them because they make me or my family look better. And thankfully, I couldn't think of a lot to put in there. I could think of a few times I've been given the chance to volunteer in a certain area at church, but I've turned these opportunities down because I know that I'm already serving in other areas that are better suited to my skills and time. I've already experienced how horrible it can be to be so over-stretched in volunteering at church that you don't even look forward to attending any more, and as such, I've made a consistent effort to not get into that situation again. 

Tricia also suggested cutting down on items in the third category (things I want to do) if you're feeling overwhelmed, and this is something I've already been examining in advance of our baby coming this summer. Right now, I'm able to mostly cope with writing, working for TCM, writing reviews and serving at church. But when summer comes, it'll take me a while to get back into my usual patterns, and there might be some things I have to set aside for a season. I have to be picky about what I really want to commit to. For now, I've decided that writing is my top priority, and the one thing I want to definitely get back to once we're settled in with our baby. As such, I'm already training a couple of the writers from TCM up to cover a few tasks around the website. Even if it's something small like updating our social media pages or uploading reviews, it takes some burdens off my day. I've also not committed to writing any reviews or serving at church past the end of June. That's something I'll have to reassess nearer the time. 

I'm not perfect. There are times when I'm sure I overcommit--I volunteer to cook or bake for a certain event when our week is already busy or it's near the end of the month and our food budget is already stretched. I consider signing up to something at church that needs extra helpers because I know I can do it--but do I really want to do it? I like Tricia's advice that "The first step in figuring out your priorities is cutting out what are not your priorities so you have space for what's important." If something is going to take time away for those things that matter most to me (my husband, my baby or my writing) then perhaps it's time to rethink why it's part of my schedule. 

This post is part of the Balanced challenge with Tricia Goyer—and you can join, too!

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