I've yet to meet anyone who thinks there is plenty of time to get things done. Whether you have a day job, a special hobby, or specific ministry, it can be hard to make sure that you're keeping a healthy balance with the various things you need to do every day.
In fact, as I've worked on my marriage, my parenting, my blog, and my other obligations, more and more, I'm finding I have to work at keeping that healthy balance. It isn't something that comes together naturally.
I've also noticed that there are some key indicators when things are getting out of whack. Maybe you've seen some of these signs in your own life as well. If your husband has commented on the amount of time you're dedicating to something, if your kids start demanding more of your time, if you're feeling frustrated with all you have to do, or if you see an imbalance between your personal to-do list and your other obligations, it might be time to make some changes.
People comment about the time you're spending on a project
If you're like me, you probably have a pet project (or seven) that can easily eat up your free time and then some. Whenever my life gets out of whack, one of the first signs of that is Jon comments on the amount of time I'm spending on my activity. It doesn't matter how important that project is; if it's taking up time you need to be spending elsewhere (like with your husband and kids), that's not a good thing.
So if you begin noticing someone else making remarks about the time you're investing in your project, it might be a sign that you've lost a healthy balance somewhere along the way.
Your kids begin demanding more of your time
When things are going well in my life, my spark plugs are usually pretty happy. But when an imbalance between family time and time spent elsewhere begins to creep up, my kids become whiny and more demanding of my time.
Have you ever noticed a correlation between grouchy kids and a lack of quality time spent with them? It can be subtle at first, but it's likely there. This is just another sign for me that I've let things slide too far in one direction and I need to reign in my extra projects and workload.
You feel frustrated at life
There are lots of reasons to feel frazzled and frustrated during the day. Wives and mamas have a lot on their plates, and I often try to brush off that irritated feeling as just a simple annoyance. Although there are times when I can't pinpoint the root of my frustration, more often than not, it stems from having too much on my plate.
If you feel frustrated at life, have you considered the possibility that you might need to step back from some of your extra activities? Even "good" things, like church ministry or Bible study, can be detrimental if you need to be spending that time with your husband and kids.
There's an imbalance between your personal to-do list and your other obligations
I currently use the Brilliant Life Planner to help guide my days and activities. One of the things I love most about it is that there is a personal agenda as well as an agenda for work (if you aren't a working mom, this is a great spot for church ministry, homeschooling, or a host of other possibilities). A few months back, I noticed that for the past two or three months, my "work" list was three times the length of my personal one. Yikes!
If you look at the list of items you want to accomplish, how many are personal to-dos versus projects and activities you want to work on? If you're spending more time, effort, and energy on outside projects and goals, you may want to stop and make sure you're not neglecting the most important things like spiritual growth, your marriage, and your kids.
Okay, you've gone through this little list, and you've decided that your life is a bit unbalanced. But what can do do about it? It's well and good to have determined that there's a problem, but how do you fix it?
I've found several measures to take when I see an imbalance in my life. Some may work for you; some may not, but hopefully these suggestions will help get you thinking about ways to improve your own situation.
- Use a timeblock schedule: when I use a timeblocking schedule, this can help me keep track of how much time I'm dedicating to a specific project. It also encourages me to do things as quickly as possible and helps prevent me from dawdling or getting sidetracked.
- Involve your kids: when I get busy with a project, it's easy to gloss over quality time with my spark plugs. Sad, but true. If I absolutely cannot set aside what I'm doing, I try to get them involved with me instead. In fact, when Jon and I sat down for our very first business meeting over 5 years ago, we had the kids sit in right along with us and taught them a few basic business principles while we discussed the future of our fledgling startup. It was a wonderful family experience; it kept everyone busy and involved; and Jon and I accomplished the things we needed to do for our business.
- Take a break: if you're feeling frustrated and overwhelmed with all you need to do, it's probably time to take a break. As counterintuitive as that sounds - taking time off when you don't have enough time to get everything done - it's probably just what you need. But don't just take a coffee break; instead, take a prayer break (but grab some coffee along the way, if that's your thing). Ask the Lord to give you clarity of thought, intense attention, and time to accomplish your workload.
- Purge your to-do list: we've all overcommitted ourselves at one time or another. It happens even to the most organized of people. Once in a while, it's okay to back out of a task or commitment. Look over your schedule and decide what items you absolutely must accomplish, and either delegate, delay, or delete the rest. It's not the easiest thing to do, but occasionally, this is the only way you're going to accomplish anything while staying sane.
Life here on Earth isn't ever going to be perfect. We're going to have a constant shift as we attempt to keep things balanced in life, and that balance isn't always going to be easy to keep. It's not surprising that we'll have days where our schedules have become overwhelming and out of whack. But if we're careful to take note of the signs that something's unbalanced and then take measures to course-correct things, we can lead productive, mostly-balanced lives that honor the Lord and that keep our priorities in line with His.