In my ongoing quest (OK, obsession) to maintain balance in my life, I’ve given a lot of thought to how I use my time and schedule my days. For a number of years, I’ve perfected a method that I like to call “making the most of small increments of time.” I try to do a little bit of everything, every day. Most days consist of:
- Work, 5-8 hours
- Housework, 45-60 minutes
- Nap, 20 minutes
- Get outside for a walk, 30-40 minutes
- Pilates, 25 minutes
- Reading, 20-30 minutes
- Sleep, 7-8 hours
For the most part, I thought this method was serving me well. But lately, I find myself wondering if this is really the best way to arrange my days. Although I feel like I’m staying on top of my daily chores and making slow progress toward some of my fitness goals, I also feel stressed if I don’t accomplish every little thing on the daily list, or if some items take longer than their allotted times, or (God forbid!) some unexpected turn of events causes me to deviate from my carefully-planned schedule. Downshifters hate rigid schedules! How did this happen to me?!
Ironically, I also feel like I’m using this everything/everyday scheduling method to avoid some important tasks that would require me to focus for longer periods of time, “go deep,” and ultimately achieve more personal satisfaction. (Seriously, when was the last time I wrote anything?!) Checking mindless tasks off the same to-do list every day doesn’t encourage my personal growth. And, while I derive more satisfaction from a clean kitchen floor than most sane people, it doesn’t even come close to the exhilaration of hitting “Publish” on a blog post.
I’ve grown to realize that, while I thought I was mastering the domains of time-management and self-discipline, I neglected to incorporate my deeper needs and core values into the program. I know that my happiness depends on allowing ample time for creative pursuits — learning, growing, and challenging myself. For that, I’m willing to make some of the mundane tasks a lower priority.
I will keep reminding my neat-freak self, “The laundry can wait. Today I write!”