My Mushy Life

I give up.

One of my summer goals was to compartmentalize my life. I am trying to create the elusive balance, while finishing my manuscript (and gearing up for that incredible journey), preparing my syllabus for this semester (a new text book seemed like such a good idea in June), running a non-profit and figuring out how to train for a 5K at the end of September.

The teacher is the writer is the arts administrator is the aunt is the cat owner is the theater lover is the Red Sox fan. I am she.

I keep trying to find the system that keeps all of this separate. Color coded schedules. Timers. Computer programs. One notebook Three notebooks. As I struggle to find how other creatives make it all work, I have learned three things.

First, there isn’t a blue print for this. There are systems you can try, books and blogs to read, advice to be sought. But there isn’t one answer.

Second, everyone struggles with balance. Well, maybe not everyone. But a lot of people do. We just don’t talk about it, or we all pretend it is easy. So, on the off chance that you are having trouble adding a writing life to your full plate and it makes you feel better to know that others are out there with the same issues, I am here to tell you, I have trouble doing it all.

Third, I have come to a startling conclusion. Maybe I thrive in mush. Rather than putting boundaries up that I just run over, perhaps the better course of action would be to get comfortable with the ooze. Prioritize, meet deadlines, and do my best.

How about you? Do you have a system for compartmentalizing, or does it all just mush together?

 

40 thoughts on “My Mushy Life

  1. Covey’s Seven habits is the way to go! I feel your pain. I have a full time job, two book deals, ministry training, a three year old and a husband tied up with his doctorate. And you know people like you and me are destined to always live like this because we’re too amazing to settle for the simple life! I’d highly recommend Covey as a support tool, and suddenly it all makes sense? 🙂 good luck!

  2. I am always trying to get more done and find ways to balance everything, it’s hard! One thing I’ve done lately is to do what I want to do, versus what I should do. For example if I have writing work, household chores, errands, etc. I might feel like one of these options should be my priority. However if I’m so worried about the other stuff then I end up worrying about it instead and it affects my ability to concentrate. If I do what I want first, I’m more apt to be focused and in the end, all the other stuff gets done anyway. This sometimes feels counter-intuitive but when I ignore my worries and go with the flow, it definitely works!

  3. I consider the leadership of my prison ministry team just as important as managing money, and I just let it all ‘mush’ together whether it is paid work or passion work. Trade a stock, send a fax to the warden, make up the bed at the B&B, do some PR for the next Beer & Hymns, take the dogs for their walk – it may appear chaotic, but I don’t need compartments. Both of my kids are engineers – very organized, and they have to be – but they won’t ever write a novel, either.

  4. Part mush, part organized chaos over here. Finding the balance rarely happens for me, but I’ve actually grown to realize that I kind of like it that way. Instead of being ridiculously scheduled and organized, I find it best to go with the flow. Besides, I can never stick to any schedule I create anyway. Mush happens whether I have a plan or not!

  5. I’m with Michael on the mush and partly organized chaos. For one, through years of raising a herd of teenagers, I learned to let a lot go and just flow with it or risk losing my mind and sense of humor. For two, my brain is not compartmentalized, so why should my life be? I try to impose at least a minimal level of organization and prioritization on things and then just run with it.

  6. Everyone has to find their own way – some need the Covey’s – some are more fluid.
    The only order is chaos.
    Back of my head I have big priorities framed for long term – but daily? Fluid and flexible. Lived by schedules, calendars, bells far too long. Careful not to inconvenience others and meet obligations (everyone has a right to their life/schedules, too) but things happen as they need to happen around here. It all gets done eventually (but if you are easily distracted and never complete things, then structure might be needed)
    Too much organization, and you’ll miss life.

  7. Everyone needs to find a system that works best for them. I find that a simple calendar does it for me. If I say that I’m going to write from one time to another on these days and play piano on these days at this particular time, I find that I actually do it. Writing out all my commitments shows me where the spaces are to do the work I love. That’s assuming, of course, I actually go so far as to write it down on my calendar.

  8. Everyone needs to find a system that works best for them. I find that a simple calendar does it for me. If I say that I’m going to write from one time to another on these days and play piano on these days at this particular time, I find that I actually do it. Writing out all my commitments shows me where the spaces are to do the work I love. That’s assuming, of course, I actually go so far as to write it down on my calendar.

  9. I read this somewhere and some how felt it is true. Accepting this might take time but will make things easier for people like us who are managing a career, two kids, home and everything else in between. Don’t expect your work and life to ever perfectly balance. Because it’s all work, even the life parts. And it’s all life, even the work parts.

  10. Yes, but goddamn it, the compartments move all the time 🙂 I always get up early, but sometimes I need to work, sometimes I need to write, and sometimes I need to read. It depends. discipline, boundaries and flexibility – a precarious balance!

  11. I think it’s an ongoing challenge to get the most out if your time. You will never really get to “the perfect solution.” It’s an ongoing process of learning how to better spend you time.
    Also, priorities shift over time. One year, you might be very focused on your career, while the next year, a family member might get sick and spending time with them becomes more important. That’s why I think life is supposed to be a little “mushy” but we should try to learn ourselves better every day. Thanks for a nice post:)

  12. Exactly! And sometimes, I really do need to do nothing; one thing I have learnt; acceptance. Beating myself up only gets me negative, defeated, miserable…and even less done! It is all about balance and trusting. But, that said, I’ve been stuck, totally unproductive for weeks. Time for some discipline and commitment. “I will sit here until I have written 500 words, no matter what they’re like”. Thanks for this. And in the end, keep going, don’t give up- that’s one of my mottos.

  13. There was an article recently, I forget where, that explored the idea that “balance” has become the new “perfect,” in the sense that women in particular are encouraged to strive toward balance, yet it isn’t really attainable. There will always be imbalance. The key, I think, is whether you find a way to navigate the imbalance while remaining happy and motivated. Great post!

  14. I love the word “eclectic” — it suits me and my life, my activities and my decor (if one could even call this mix decor) . . . and my friendships and reading habits, which continually surprise the librarians. It’s possible that balance, except perhaps in tai chi, is overrated.

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