Thursday, October 16, 2008

Time and Balance

Some days it seems I can't get anything accomplished. On those days I just can't coordinate the hours to meet my family's demands or do the tasks that endlessly mock me (laundry, anyone?), and forget about time to myself, or sitting down to write anything worthwhile. My whole day will seem stunted and sporadic and out of control. Out of balance. I hate that.

Other days I think, Wow! I've got twenty-four hours! Look at all this time! And I spend it wisely. It unfolds smoothly, with one task leading into the next, and I get so much done. I'm balanced. And at peace, when nothing ruffles my feathers.

Productive days like that lead me to wonder if I'm just lazy on the unproductive days. Is it a mindset? Is it related to mood and hormones? Is it lack of motivation?

Sure, my routine is set, and I try to follow it. But so many factors go into a day and its progress, from things I control (like pushing the snooze button one too many times) to things I don't (a last minute request from a friend or family member, or a problem with a service or product). Some days I can fly by the seat of my pants to take it as it comes [too many clich├ęs there?], other days I feel so dogged and discouraged, like I'm inadequate and incapable.

Do you have days at both ends of the specturm? To what do you attribute them?
How do you work through it? How do you come to terms with the fact that not everyday is perfect, and make the ones that are seemingly perfect count for more?

19 comments:

Terri Tiffany said...

Oh I know what you mean! I have great productive days and others not so but I think we need both. When I have a list--I seem to get more done--yesterday was one of those days and I felt great at the end of it. I have my list today too but I think Friday might not be that way but it really is ok. We're living out life:)

Angie Ledbetter said...

Hear ya, Sistuh! One of the best things age and experience have given me is to be easy on myself on those "off" days. They're going to happen, no matter our prior plans or intentions. It's part of being the head of the family ship (AKA the Mom), and sometimes, we just need a break from the grind.

Jenna said...

The taunting laundry pile...well mine is a mountain right now :(. I swear I'm going to tackle it right after I type this.

I won't be much help because this is how most of my days feel lately. I do think mindeset, moods and hormones are a part of it and I think sheer exhaustion is a big part...it's hard to pull yourself up by your boot straps when you're too tired to find your boots.

Like Terri said, lists seem to help. I will add everything I must accomplish that day then what I want to accomplish. I put how many words I want to write, how many miles I want to run, dinner, laundry, cleaning, errands, homework, you name it, then when I have crossed off even the regular stuff like laundry it feels like I have accomplished something. Plus it helps to look and see how much I really did get done on those seemingly wasted days.

Sometimes I'll do the a list for the week and try to spread out what I need to get done.

But when I have days that just suck, I drink a glass of wine, go to bed earlier and remind myself tomorrow is a new day, I get a do-over :).

Hang in there!

Janna Qualman said...

I'm so glad you gals chimed in - I was second-guessing my choice in posting this, thinking maybe I was making myself look bad. :/

Terri, I'm one who enjoy lists, but haven't made them a regular habit. I need to do that, like you and Jenna do, with what sounds like great success.

Angie - You're right. I think I've been feeling the stress (now that I think about it) because misterwrites has been working two jobs, which keep him away from home 6 days a week (other than for sleep). All the day-to-day demands get tiring when there's no one to share them with.

Jenna - I like your words there about boots and bootstraps. How true! And like I told Terri above, I need to start implementing a regular list. Do you try to relegate particular chores to particular days, and stay on task that way? I think Turkey Lurkey does... I'll be glad to get her take on things.

Melanie Avila said...

Usually if I don't get anything done on my hectic days it's because I try to do everything at once. You know that feeling, you try to do one thing (say, laundry) but your mind keeps telling you that something more pressing needs to be done. So you stop the laundry and go start something else, and so on.

I find if I can force myself to just finish one thing, the rest will fall into place. Sometimes you need to admit you won't get to it all (like writing) and allow yourself not to do it that day. For me, taking it off the table gives me a little relief and I can focus better on the other things.

Melanie Avila said...

Oh, and Jenna. I do the exact same thing with my lists. Crossing off the little things feels just as good!

Joanne said...

I also relegate tasks to certain days, always! Otherwise you're wasting energy wondering when you'll do them. I also delegate, you'd be surprised how it helps. Even children can pitch in. But still, on those overwhelming days, sometimes you just have to give yourself over to them. In that case, I get done as much of the mundane as I absolutely can, clearing the next day for a great writing day!

Terri Tiffany said...

I hope your phone rings soon! I was feeling that way about the agent and now I figure enough time has passed that he passed on me! But there is still the other one. Some day we will both be celebrating!

Janna Qualman said...

Melanie, part of me envies your days so much. But I know even if I didn't have kids to watch after, I'd still fall short of getting everything done. It's just the way I'm wired, I guess. And that settles it: I'm making lists lists lists!

I've thought of that often, Joanne, but never tried to implement such a schedule. I'll have to give it a good try. Thanks!

Janna Qualman said...

PS. Of course that ^ wasn't meant to imply I'm unhappy with kids to watch, because they're my life. I'd be lost without them.

Just making that clear. :)

Turkey Lurkey said...

I've learned to just throw away the (write every day) concept. I don't feel guilty about it. My kids come first. Since motherhood, I've never had a 24 hour period of time to myself. I don't think I have been away from my children for more than 3 hours. So I just use what time I do have, and that usually equates to 4 hours/week. I am ok with this. I know that this phase is a short one, and that the kids don't stay young for very long. :)

WendyCinNYC said...

I'm always at my most productive when I'm busiest. If I have just a few things to do, it all goes by the wayside.

I'm another one who is big on lists. If it's not on the list, it doesn't exist.

LA said...

Lists help, but even with lists I have some very unproductive days. My biggest help, when it comes to getting things done, is to remember I'm human, plan for extra time with everything I need to do and to spread it out. I don't have to have the laundry done, the house cleaned, the errands run, projects finished, etc. all on the same day.

And if your house has shoes by the front door, mail on the table, toys hiding in wait to be stepped on, laundry waiting to be done, paperwork to be filed, and dishes to be washed... you live just like everyone else. :) I doubt any of us have a spotless house and if we do it's because we don't have children to make a mess faster than we can clean it up. ;)

Rachel Burton said...

I'm a list girl when I go through busy periods. And if I accomplish something not on my list, however minor it may be, I will ADD IT TO MY LIST just so I can cross it off.

thedomesticfringe said...

I blame unproductive days on hormones...absolutely! Today is one such day. I've lot my couch and coffee table. They are burried in a mound of laundry (clean) that needs to be folded. I just haven't been able to get it done. Other days, I can do so much. I try not to feel too badly on days like today. After all, tomorrow may be spectacular.

Janna Qualman said...

So true, Turk, we have to relish the young years while they're here. *sniff*

Wendy - That makes a whole lot of sense, like maybe being not-so-busy gives us a good excuse to be a little more lax?

LA - Good points. No one can be Miss Suzy Homemaker 24/7. Right? Right?

Rachel - LOVE that! Why not put it on the list? Then you know you've done well. :)

thedomesticfringe - I KNOW hormones play a big role for me, I just wish it were something I could better control. But no such luck. :) Good luck with that laundry!

Melanie Avila said...

Rachel, I do that too! I tried explaining it to someone once and she just looked at me like I was crazy.

Jenna said...

Janna, I don't relegate particular chores to particular days...I used to in a way but I've been helping a cousin out with her 10 month old a few days a week (and different every week) so that has really tossed aside any way to say "Tuesdays are cleaning day and Wednesday grocery shopping".

I'll usually do the list a day or two, sometimes more, out and just focus on the stuff that is absorbing my brain power...like, the big pile of laundry was top on my list today.

Wendy I love your motto...If it's not on the list, it doesn't exist...I'm stealing it...if you don't mind of course ;).

And I love what Rachel said about adding things not on the list but that I got done anyway...I do that sometimes and it feels so good...even if my minds knows better.

Awesome post Janna!

aaroncrocco said...

I think it's establishing a balance and a routine. Through habit, the schedule works itself out. That's my perspective anyway. :-)