Friday, August 17, 2012

Finding Time

We’re all so busy. Everyone around us is also so busy. Ask a friend how they’re doing, and they’ll tell you, “Oh, busy busy busy!” It is true that we all have a lot on our plates! We have to work, we have families to tend to, housework to do, and more! But we often get stuck in a rut of having so much to do that we forget to enjoy ourselves!  We don’t give ourselves downtime, and we don’t spend quality time with those we love.  So how do we strike that balance, finding the time to do the things we NEED to do (whether we want to or not!) as well as the things we WANT to do? This is something I am VERY MUCH still working on in my own life, but here is some of what I’ve learned so far:

Figure out which demands for your time are unchangeable. There are 24 hours in a day. Unfortunately, most of those hours are taken up by things we have no choice about. For most of us, that includes things like work, sleep, taking care our families and taking care of our homes. How much time you spend on those things depends upon your circumstances.

Figure out which things in your life are changeable, and prioritize them. How many times have you heard people tell you that they don’t have time to exercise, but then in the same breath that person tells you about the TV shows they watched? The fact is, that person DOES have time to exercise, they just choose to make other things (like relaxing in front of the TV) a priority. This is the situation with all of us, whether we realize it or not. In order to find time to do the things you really want to do, you need to take a good, hard look at how you spend all the hours of your day. Chances are, you CAN find an hour or two in there somewhere, as long as you’re willing to give something else up. It’s all about those priorities!

Be careful about volunteering. Volunteering is a wonderful thing. It’s good for our communities, and it’s good for us. It sets a good example for our children about helping others. However, many of us get into the habit of volunteering for too many things, which makes us crazy and resentful and less-available to our families.  Seriously consider your volunteer opportunities, and consider whether they will enrich your life, or whether they will just add one more thing to your already full plate. For me, volunteering with my children’s homeschool group enriches my life, and keeps me involved and active in a community that is very important to me. Right now, that is enough for me, and I choose to say “no” to anything else.

Find ways to be creative about the “unchangeable” things, to better accommodate the things that you really want out of life. For example, I know someone who really hates to clean, but obviously, just not cleaning your home is not an option. So she arranges her family’s budget to allow for a cleaning person to come in once a week. For many of us whose budgets are already stretched to the limit, that wouldn’t an option financially, but those whose budgets include things like dinners out or pricey vacations may choose to forgo those things in order to pay for someone to clean, if that is something that is important to them.  In our family, we divide the housework so that the burden isn’t on one person, and that works for us.

Work is usually the biggest obstacle in the quest for finding time, and often that is truly unchangeable. But sometimes it’s possible to make changes that will allow you more time… maybe finding a shorter commute, or a job with a more flexible schedule (although I realize that in this economy, most have to take whatever jobs they can get!) In my case, I have to work, but also wanted to continue homeschooling my kids, so I choose to run my own home-based business, rather than working outside the home.  This allows me to be here with my kids, even while working. The Man works here with me, and together we are able to juggle the demands of the job and the kids. Is it easy? No. The hours are long, and the work is hard. But I wouldn’t change a thing, because for us, homeschooling and being together as a family is more of a priority that having a shorter/easier work week. It works for us!

Schedule Downtime. This is the absolute most important thing! Seriously. Write it down on your calendar. Fit it into your daily schedule. This is something I have learned the hard way, and I confess that I’m not always very consistent about it. But I try VERY hard to wrap up all work tasks by 7pm. Whatever  is  not done by 7pm just gets moved to the next day’s “to do” list. This gives me three hours in the evening to get the kids settled for bed, work on the Blog, tend my garden, go for a short run, read and spend some quality time with The Man. I find that if I don’t get that time in the evening to do those things, it makes me really grumpy and resentful, so I make it a priority! Since I get up at 5:30am, I do my best to get to sleep around 10. Sleep is VERY important, as well!

Finding time for Life's Pleasures is the main reason why we choose to live a Simple Life. It is something we constantly strive for, aware that it is something we must consciously work toward on a daily basis.

Waking up this morning, I smile,       
Twenty four brand new hours are before me.      

I vow to live fully in each moment      
and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.  
~Thich Nhat Hanh

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