As a wife and mother of two, a full-time business analyst, an EMBA student, and an aspiring author, a question I am frequently asked is… how do I balance my life and manage to fit it all in? The answer is… I don’t. Every single day something gets missed, gets neglected, gets left until tomorrow, or falls off the “to do” list entirely.
Take today for example… We just got home late last night from an awesome family vacation to St. Louis. I am relaxed, happy, ready to hop back into my daily life. And then I take a look at what that means just for today…
I start the day with my house in complete chaos. We had my son’s 5th birthday party just before leaving for vacation, so we left the house in a bit of a wreck, and then there’s the unpacking to do. But all of that gets placed on hold. This morning I need to get me ready and then get the kids up, dressed, and to school – with a quick stop at the grocery store to pick up brownie bites for my son’s class to celebrate his birthday. But wait a sec! First I need to make sure my son is in (clean and matching) PJs because today is PJ day for his class. Luckily it’s pancake day at school – so breakfast for the kids is handled.
Then it’s on to work where I have 200 emails waiting for me (not an exaggeration) and a week’s worth of catching up to do. The work “to do” list also includes a Q3 finalized forecast for my account, and a communication package on the current supply outlook, among about ten other things. Of course I squeeze this all in the morning hours since I’m in meetings from 1pm to 4:30pm. Lunch at the desk today. The good news is I finished everything that absolutely had to get done for work today, so no after-hours required.
After work I make a trip over to my friend Krista’s house to pick up dinner. She cooks dinner for us three nights a week (bless her). It’s a HUGE time savings for us. Then it’s home to pop it in the oven. While it cooks and I wait for my husband to get home with the kids, I start trying to make a small dent on the mess that is my house. I multi-task by calling Mom and filling her in on our vacation while I pick up.
Hubby’s playing volleyball tonight. I feed the kids – a bite-by-bite battle, and then it’s the bedtime routine. I squeeze the writing of this blog post in while snuggling with my kids during the TV-watching portion of bedtime. After the kids are in bed, I settle on the couch with my computer (husband’s night to clean the kitchen) and work while I catch up on my missed TV shows. We have a quick chat about his job and our current weekly schedule of “duties.”
Then I get down to it. First I work on EMBA stuff. I’ve been lucky this week because the 4th of July holiday meant a week-long break between classes at school. But the next class starts this Friday and I have some pre-work to get through. I divide up all the reading for the week to spread it out over the next few days, and spend an hour reading two of the articles.
After that, I pop open another forecast for work (I just can’t help myself – it’s a good time to get ahead of some things for later in the week) and knock that out for the next hour. Once that’s done, I open up Hyacinth – the follow-on book to Blue Violet. At the moment I’m waiting on the next round of Blue Violet edits from Wendy, so it’s a perfect time to get some more of book two written. I try to get about three pages a night in when I can. Tonight, one page is all I have time for.
Finally I hit on my social media “to dos” for self-publishing. A tweet here, a facebook post there, publish this blog post. I am categorically NOT a late-night person, so it’s upstairs, get out my gear for my early morning run, get ready for bed, read for about twenty minutes to clear my mind, and try to fall asleep.
You’ll notice that the house, while it got a tiny bit more picked up, is still a disaster area. Unpacked luggage is strewn throughout, contents spilled haphazardly on the floor. I would have preferred to knock out 10 pages of the new book, but only got to 1. I didn’t get my Tuesday evening run in. Still need to pay some bills, make a dentist appointment, get my passport application process started, and get some cash to pay my friend Janice $20. My very patient mother-in-law has been waiting for dimensions of the windows in my daughter’s room for about three months now (she’s making us curtains).
But all of that will have to wait until tomorrow, or the next day, or the next. I consider today to be a very successful day. I spent what time I had with my family with them. I got most everything done that I wanted to. What’s left over is not urgent. If your life is anything as crazy as mine is, I’d love to hear what techniques you use to keep on top of it. I believe (cliche alert) the trick is to realize you are not a failure, to live your life every day to the fullest, and to not sweat the small stuff (and sometimes not sweat the big stuff too).