Just Routine: Over-Commitment

People are always talking about how busy they are. Some seem to view it as a point of pride. I never understood this until I really started to organize my life.

Do you know what the key has been to keeping myself in line? Staying busy.

I’ve always known on some level that an appropriate level of busy-ness is one of the keys to my happiness. Perhaps that’s why I’ve always loved school and never been a fan of summertime. (Well, that and so many other reasons--summertime is awful.)

Unfortunately, whenever I strive to keep busy, I always end up overdoing it. I tend to think that if I have a gigantic to-do list, I’ll always have something to fill the lulls and thus ward off the boredom blues. Instead, I get overwhelmed. I shut down. From a distance, too busy looks a lot like bored on me. Either way, I’m on the sofa eating potato chips.

Some people push through until they can’t stay awake any longer. I used to be that way. I learned my lesson early, that I can’t sustain that kind of lifestyle. At some point in high school, I learned the joy of quitting. That I didn’t have to be the best, the first, the most productive–it was so liberating. I learned to be laid-back. Trouble is, when you lay back too far, you end up falling asleep.

So: as in all things, the key is balance. I must learn not to over-commit (Like promising you 30 days of apple recipes–what was I thinking? I actually developed quite a few recipes this month, including an apple barbecue sauce and apple pie blondies, but I forgot about the need to duplicate a recipe’s success and take pictures and write the actual blog post… I just got excited, you know?). I must learn not to under-commit (Like thinking that my daughter’s 45-minute music class will somehow keep us entertained all day).

To do this, I’m working on a schedule, broken into four routines: Morning, Lunchtime, Afternoon, and Bedtime. I’d show you my lists and notes tentative schedules but there’s so much to factor in, they’re ever-changing. Sometimes, I realize I have to give certain things up. Sometimes, I realize that a long list of chores only fills fifteen minutes. I’ve learned to schedule a siesta (for both my daughter AND ME!), to give myself coffee breaks (OSHA says I should), and to designate time to sit on my bottom and play with my children (which is just as important as cleaning the floor we’re sitting on, if not more so). I’m learning that I don’t have to just space out during bathtime–I could, like, clean the sinks!–but that singing and talking with my kids during tub time is a totally worthwhile use of time.

I’m also learning that I can learn a lot from other people’s schedules. It’s not something we tend to talk about openly–why is that? I find that people either gloss over and downplay all the things they do, or make themselves out to be busier than a beaver in a logging camp. What’s truth and what’s hyperbole? I find it hard to tell.

So I’m asking you: how do you prioritize your time? Do you schedule yourself? Use a to-do list? Fly free in the wind? Do you feel like you get enough done in a day or do you feel like you’re always scrambling for more time?

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