Life is kind of crazy right now. I have senior projects to grade, portfolio entries to read and approve, an end-of-the-year presentation to make, I need to get someone to speak at awards night--and that's just my school life. In my writing life, I have a book launch party this afternoon (hope you can come--4pm at Emmanuel Baptist Church) and I also am helping with an activity with my Sunday School class today. I woke up this morning wondering if I was going to get everything done. And on top of all that, I have been feeling a growing sense of dissatisfaction over the fact that I just don't have time to write like I want to. My latest work in progress hasn't been touched in weeks.
As I lay in bed contemplating that as I waited for the coffee pot to finish brewing, I was reminded of something I said to a former student who was feeling overwhelmed by school work and was expressing frustration that she was neglecting another aspect of her life. I decided I should consider taking my own advice. So when I am feeling overwhelmed by some particular aspect of my life and I feel like things are out of balance, I try to keep the following things in mind:
- Have a plan. Today is going to be packed full, but I know I'll get everything done because I have it all scheduled out. I know what I'll be doing and where I'll be every minute of the day. And I have a long-term plan too. I know that this crazy busy time will end next Tuesday at the end of Color Day, and on Wednesday, I have a marathon writing session planned. Simply looking at my calendar and putting down appointments eases my anxiety because I feel like I have a handle on the insanity.
- Neglect stuff. This sounds like a lousy piece of advice, I know, but it may be the key. It's the point I was making to my student. Sometimes you just have to be okay with not spending time with your friends or going to an activity that you really feel like you should because you have a certain number of hours in your day and you literally can't be in two places at one time. So explain it to your friends and make an appointment for a time when you know you won't be so busy (see previous bullet) and do what you need to do. Maybe another way to think of it is to prioritize. Sometimes you need to say no to things because they not so much important but urgent. But sometimes the urgent stuff really does need taken care of.
- Make sure it all balances out in the end. Think of the important areas of your life not as ends of a scale but as accounts that have to be balanced monthly. As long as each account receives attention relatively regularly, your life is in balance. You can't do everything you want and need to do every day, but you probably can every month. No time to write today? That's okay because I plan to catch up next week. So look at your life in terms of the next month rather than the next 24 to 48 hours. Do you have time set aside for all the important tasks and people in your life sometime over the next month? Then you're okay.
- Finally, remember that some things aren't negotiable. Time for sufficient sleep, good nutrition, a spiritual life, and some exercise shouldn't be considered negotiable. If you have to cut back on sleep time regularly because you're just too busy, then it's time to decide that something needs to go. If you don't have time to sleep, then how will you get everything done when you're sick in bed because you let yourself get exhausted? So say no. Get help. Delegate. Decide some things just don't need done at all, at least by you.
Before I end, let me say one more time that today is the book launch party for my latest book, Kisses and Lies! I hope you can make it out to say hello and maybe have a cookie and a lovely beverage. I'll be visiting, doing a reading, answering questions, and the time will end with a signing, so if you already have a copy, bring it. If not, that's okay--I have some for sale. It's at 4pm at Emmanuel Baptist Church, which is on the corner of 23rd and Liberty Streets in Parkersburg, just up the hill from City Park.