The Impact of Preparedness
I used to think of balance mainly in terms of units of time, weighing ideas of how many hours were spent working, versus hours spent in non-work pursuits, or how much time I might spend with one family member over another. The balance was often about quantity rather than quality, and though the latter was certainly a factor, it didn’t always ease my guilt of unbalanced time. I have often judged certain activities as being less worthy of balancing out the work and non-work; for example not getting up early on the weekends and “making the most of the day”, as a failure to maintain the balance of the two.
While I still haven’t completely broken the habits of thinking of balance in these terms, I have realized I have more of a quandary with time rather than the balance of it between different activities. More recently, I have come to better understand which activities will return me to a more balanced state. This is especially evident when I’ve had a very social few weeks; I need time alone to restore the feeling of balance. So then, it becomes about quality after all, and about the activities themselves and their individual effect on me.
When it comes to matters of maintaining balance during a busy period (and for some, those periods are never-ending – I’m looking at you parents), I have spent much more time this year identifying what specific activities I need to do in order to course correct, as it were. I’m about to embark on a busy month and a half: friends and family visiting from out of town, a wedding to attend (for which I will travel), planning for a large family event which I will be co-hosting and a myriad of everyday life things in between it all. The first thing I do is in being proactive – prepare. I clean the house, do the laundry, organize items and manage bill payments and other life administrative functions so they won’t be overlooked during the swell of busy days. In short, I try to get ahead as much as I can. I don’t fill my weeks like I used to either. I take note of those evenings when I don’t have as much going on and keep them open, I try not to over-plan or over-stuff my weekdays. I make sure I schedule time to get groceries, which I have taken to doing as a weekly habit, so that I don’t find myself with nothing to make for dinner (not eating properly will also contribute to losing balance). I go to bed earlier when I know there are busy days ahead, it’s not possible all nights, but as many as I can. From previous experiences this year, I know the impact of sleeping, eating on a regular schedule and drinking water can truly have on my daily life and my feelings of being balanced and grounded. All of the above helps me mitigate these feelings of imbalance, and get myself back on track when it’s been a busy time.