I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling pulled in so many different directions. I often wonder where the minutes of the day went. I'm usually up early - by six am most days. But before I know it, it's eight am. Then it's noon. Then five. Where has the day gone? What have I done all day?
Some days are obviously productive and I have something to show for it. Other days, I got nothing. So where did the time go?
Facebook, online dating sites, email, reading and commenting on other people's blogs, my dogs, eating, watching TV.
Since my work revolves around my computer, I often have email and Facebook tabs up whenever I'm online. And when I see that I have a new email or a new FB message, I feel the need to check it RIGHT NOW.
I've put up a new profile on a free online dating site that I've used in the past. I did it to "see what's out there" and mainly for fun. Yet, the "fun" at times feels more like a job, checking my inbox for the site multiple times a day and responding to emails from guys I'm not even all that interested in. Even the emails I delete, I still check the guy's profile first, which takes time, "just in case" he's better than he lets on in his email or than he looks in the little thumbnail picture. Why?
My dogs. I love my dogs. But still, sometimes it feels more like a chore, like I "have to" take them on long walks (longer than 15 minutes each). I have four dogs right now. I walk them separately because they go at such different paces and it's just mentally more relaxing for me. It sure takes time though. Luckily, only two really like to go on long walks. I think they'd go all day if I let them. Lulu (the foster puppy) barely likes to walk to the end of the driveway, which for me, is a good thing. Then there's Betty. My blind shih-tzu. I never know if it'll be a day where she's feeling adventurous and wants to walk a couple blocks, or if she'll only stay out five minutes and be ready to return home.
I know my dogs (at least the big two) would like to go on long walks every single day. As in, an hour-long. For me, time-wise, that's not going to happen. I do take them out at least four days a week though. But it's not just the walks. When I'm home, hardly ten minutes will go by when one of them isn't pawing at me to be pet or to play with him/her, or telling me it's feeding time again. My rottie mix, Reese, will make sure I stick to the feeding schedule, that's for sure!
Now that I'm working at the florist a couple days a week, when I'm home, I feel like I should give my dogs more attention. Not to mention the fact that I like having them around and like spending time with them.
Between just the aforementioned tasks, I could fill an entire day, when you factor in eating. Add that to the time spent at the flower shop, and the time left "for me" or for writing is down to such a negligible amount that I don't even want to get started writing anything because I don't have much time left in the day.
I've been feeling this conflict growing within me a little while now. How to balance everything.
My traditional, paycheck-receiving job at the florist. My creative outlet -- writing. My dogs (and the dogs at the shelter) pulling at my heart strings to spend more time with them. Working out -- to maintain a physical body I feel good in. Maintaining relationships with friends -- be it in person or via email.
Those are my priorities. Do my actions back them up? Sometimes yes, but more often than I'd like to admit, no.
It hit me yesterday that I probably need to set some limits for myself with my non-priorities. Facebook, online dating, emailing (when it's not close friends). I let minutes go by checking and rechecking those accounts. Minutes become hours. Hours become entire days.
Time to re-evaluate.
Being that I'm naturally drawn to schedules, perhaps it's time to lean on that part of my personality. This week I will do just that. Try it out. See how it works for me. I'll let you know how it goes by the end of the week. Will I be more productive? Will I resent the schedule that I set for myself? Will I even be able to stick to it, with all the other "life" stuff that pops up (cleaning, laundry, and whatever other unexpected events)? There's only one way to find out.
I drew up a schedule last night for Monday through Saturday. I wrote it out by hand on lined paper. One line per every half hour, six am through eight pm. I left Sunday open and schedule-free. I included my prioritized tasks first (working out, walking my dogs). I wrote when I work at the florist and when I already have plans and committments for this week. After that, I saw that I actually had a few hours most days to write. Work on my next creative endeavor. So I wrote that in. That was the time that in the recent days I wasted checking and rechecking all those internet accounts and watching TV shows that I really don't need to be watching.
It's funny to me, because I consider myself a very self-motivated person. I don't like being told what to do. I like to do what I want, when I want. But it seems I may need a little direction right now.
When I wasn't working a traditional job at all, all the minutes and hours of my days were free and open. I could spend hours on non-priority tasks and still have hours for creative writing and that work. Not anymore. With the florist job taking up many hours a week, I have to draw a line somewhere.
I'm just an hour in to day one of my scheduled week, but it's going good so far. I actually woke up excited this morning. Excited for a little structure in my days. I have no idea if the schedule will go "according to plan" or not.
It also struck me as humerous that in my post yesterday I talked about feeling like I "had" to do certain things a certain way and that burned me out. And then here I go, the very next day (or rather later that same day) setting up a structured schedule for myself.
I think it's all about balance. Some areas of my life (like working out) I need to be a little more free in. But at times I still need some direction and structure.
It's all an experiment. I'm having fun with it. And that's what counts. I'll let you know how the week turns out.