It’s all about balance

planet.jpg“How do you do so much?” I get asked that question a lot. The short answer is I am an alien from another planet and require no sleep.

Actually, that’s not true. But, it is true that I tend to be juggling balancing a good many things at one time.

You must learn the art of balance. Most of the very interesting people I know have multiple streams of income, multiple interests, and a variety of goals. Life is an oyster, so to speak…I am prying all of mine open.

Timothy Johnson is one of those people. He knows that combating burnout lives in knowing when to say no.

Life Hack has great pointers, as it is often to have. Dustin Wax’s great article on What to Do When It’s All Too Much is no exception.

Don’t know if you are out of balance? Really? Come on – you have to know. It feels just like it does when the tires on your car are out of whack. If you need something more concrete than that, Lisa Gates can help you out.

Many of us are talking about and living right in the middle of “going big.” These times, more than any other time, keeping balance is a necessity. It is important to make sure that the success of Thing 1 doesn’t result in the unintended failure of Thing 2.

What do you do to maintain balance?

*Photo credit to NASA

Comments

  1. For me, my husband is my balance. Having a partner to help me self-evaluate, to help me prioritize and help me in my daily goals is crucial. We are lucky to work together.

    I overanalyze and am prone to spreading myself to thin and he’s the one who says, “you know, you don’t have to do that,” or “let’s go to lunch, you seem stressed.” I would be a ball of nerves without him.

    My balance is primarily in prayer. I get upset and I pray. I get sad, mad, frustrated, stressed, etc. and I pray and meditate, and nothing fixes my day better than the gentle listening ear of God- nothing is more comforting.

  2. I have to agree…my hubby and I are a great fit.

    The great conversation…the ultimate balancer

  3. Lisa Gates says:

    April, I see you’ve been inside my computer, snooping around for the yummy stuff. I have done the same over here (tee heeeeee).

    I usually have to stop myself in my tracks and ask, “what’s important here?” When I do that, I notice that I can scratch off about five things from my to-do list on any given day. Shoulds vs. choices, you know?

  4. More than balance, it’s about maintaining equilibrium. I’ve tried to bring my life “back into balance” only to find I’ve swung things too far in an unwanted yet opposite direction. I’m a systems thinker, so I have to constantly ask myself what I want the outcome to be (life, relationships, time) and what are the inputs (appointments and tasks and “saw sharpeners”) that will get me there.

    Thanks for the link love, April… hugs.

  5. Wade Young says:

    To maintain balance, we got rid of our TV 7 years ago. We watch an occasional DVD on our computer but no television. It’s the only way possible to get everything done in a day — working out, getting adequate sleep, a little reading and praying, cooking, time with your spouse, time with your kid, sex, and the thing that takes up most of your day: work. I don’t know how people who watch TV do it. I can barely get it all done as it is. Tonight I spent the evening ironing my dress shirts (because of the chemicals used in dry cleaning) while my wife cooked a homemade meal (something she does every night). I spent the entire evening talking with my wife and son for one reason and one reason only: no TV.

  6. Lisa – That post of yours has been sitting in my reader with a star on it, waiting for me to give it the attention it deserved since you published it 🙂 I love the yummy!

    I have to stop myself too – except my question is usually, “what’s the point here?” It is my defense against making things harder than they are, or morphing them into something they were never meant to be – that is my biggest balance killer.

  7. Timothy – equilibrium – what a great word! That input output thing gets me too. I am very excitable when I find something that piques my interest. I have a tendency towards tunnel vision.

    A good planner has done wonders with helping me with that.

    Thanks, “Santa” 🙂

  8. Wade,

    I think that is awesome – unfortunately I couldn’t do it. I mean, I guess I could, but I really don’t want to – if we are all being honest. I love the TV that me and my kids watch together, the TV that my husband and I watch together, and the TV I watch by myself (although that hardly ever happens).

    I read the webpage for you book – what a great concept! Your wife is a lucky woman. I am really glad you came around here. I look forward to getting to know you better.

  9. I’m with Wade. We haven’t given our TV the complete heave-ho, but we seriously curtail how much it is watched. The kids get about an hour (max) of educational TV. Otherwise, they are playing with toys or interacting with us or helping with chores. For my wife and me, TV is an end of the day, lying in bed wrap-up (and even then, Weather Channel or Food Network). It’s amazing how much time that idiot box can suck up. I’ve not watched a series drama or sit-com in years, and I don’t miss them. Real life is so much more fascinating, if you give it a chance.

  10. Wade Young says:

    Once I watched the Cosby show during its heyday. Bill Cosby walked into the room, and Theo was watching TV. Cosby said to his son something like, “Do You know why you watch TV? Because the people on TV aren’t watching TV.” We watch TV because it is interesting — because the people on TV are actually doing something, living life. While we watch TV, our lives are actually on hold. I would rather live life than watch someone else live their life — or even worse, watch someone live a fake life.

  11. Timothy and Wade – I think being able to unplug is a great thing…I think it would cause a revolt in my house, but I do think can be a good idea.

    It does raise some questions for me as one who cannot fathom complete unplug 🙂

    Watching the news is easier and more efficient for me than reading the paper. So what do you do about the news?

    My kids and husband love Animal Planet, and Discovery and the like. Is there a pass for these? If not, what are the best alternatives?

  12. Hey April,

    I was reading your interview over at REMBEX Blog Fiesta where you said, “Plan, Plan, Do.”

    A creed I think anyone should live by but as you said it takes balance to accomplish and that’s the toughest part. If you can master the balancing act, you’re good to go!

    For me, it’s:
    – Arguing with my girlfriend (nah we don’t argue…she just balances me & I love her for being the things I’m not; the perfect complement)
    – Reading a book (damn I’m a geek)
    – Playing basketball or snowboarding (b-ball allows me to vent and exercise and boarding is just an amazing adrenaline rush)
    – Listening to music (lately I can’t stop playing Cirque du Soleil)

  13. Ricardo – sounds like we are wired a lot of the same way…my husband, a great book, exercise, and music tend to even me back out as well.

    Blog Fiesta is great!

  14. Wade Young says:

    April-

    As far as news goes, I’ve learned that the more things change, the more they stay the same. I don’t have to know every tidbit of what is going on in the election, for example. I already know how I will vote. I just don’t need to know every single thing that is going on in the world. I am more interested in knowing how the world really works — and you don’t learn that from the news; you learn it from books. I do, however, get some news. I get a really good newspaper in Denver called the Rocky Mountain News. It’s smaller and more concise than a normal newspaper, so I can get through it very fast. I also get some news via the Internet.

    As far as your animal shows, my son still gets to watch a DVD on my laptop on Friday evenings. We order from Netflix, and he’s happy as he always has Friday evenings to look forward to. You can get Discovery on Netflix, no commercials too. I don’t need my kid nagging me to buy stuff that he saw on TV. Since he never sees commercials, he doesn’t nag much. He thinks that the only toys available in the world are the ones on the action figure isle at Target. I like it that way. He has also doesn’t ask for soda pop or candy when we shop because he never gets those either.

  15. I’m with Wade on this one. Most local tv and radio stations have websites, as do most major websites (yahoo, google, earthlink). Scan the headlines on these sites, read what’s relevant, skip the rest. Right now in Iowa, we’re being lambasted by candidate commercials and phone calls… filtering and headlining and summarizing are survival skills.

    For the other stuff, treat those TV shows like finite currency. What are the “opportunity costs” of other things not getting done when the family is watching TV. Granted, as a parent, I wholeheartedly appreciate being able to set my kids in front of the box on occasion just so I can get things done. But it’s a temporary solution, not an ongoing strategy.

  16. April, Tim, Wade,

    Wow! What a great discussion going on. I’ve got to be honest here: I thoroughly enjoy reading the discussion between the three of you. It has really made me think about how my wife and I “view” the television (okay…that was a bit cheesy). And, since the topic of TV was brought up, I figured I would weigh in on it specifically.

    I’m more in line with April on this one. Actually, I’m probably way over the top on this one. My wife and I LOVE tv. I know “love” is a special word, but we sure do watch a lot of it. The DVR has really made watching tv easy. We tape now and watch later.

    When it comes to our kids, though, that is when I start to reflect more on how much they should really watch. Right now, we aren’t limiting tv watching. And, I must say, we have created a “Dora” monster in our toddler. She is definitely a “Dora Addict.” But, I think there is some value in letting the kids watch tv, especially if the parent is monitoring the shows. For example, my daughter loves Dora, and quite frankly, I think it’s a rather neat show as well. It’s interactive. It’s educational. My daughter has really picked up on animal names, and colors, and all sorts of things. Of course, I know much of that has come with interaction with us and others, but I do give some credit to tv shows. There are some very good educational cartoons out there that IMHO can be of value to children.

    With that said, I think you are all right, in that it still comes down to balance (or equilibrium). How much do we allow our children (and ourselves for that matter) to watch? When is it too much? It’s obviously going to be different for everyone. Right now, my wife and I probably watch too much. However, in the “nicer” months (I live in Iowa), our television viewing does go down.

    Side note: I’ve got to say again that this is some great discussion going on. I love to see multiple comments from the same individuals. It seems that so often there is a one to two line comment, and the conversation ends there. Great Post April!!!

  17. Wade Young says:

    Saying that TV is educational is highly questionable given that I know of no scientific evidence to back up that claim. Your daughter knows animal names and colors? Every homeless person holding a sign in Denver knows their animal names and colors too. We all learn that stuff, and learning it a wee bit earlier than another person hasn’t proven to result in a more successful life.

    What has been scientifically proven to be educational and stimulating for children is reading. 4 months ago I read a book called The Underground History of American Education. In this book the guy made a comment that children are capable of more. He gave the example that primers 100 years old showed 5th graders reading Shakespeare. It got me to thinking, so 4 months ago we made a big change. We were reading books like Curious George to my 4 year old son. I went out and got Charlotte’s Web, which is something like 200 pages, and read it to my son. I couldn’t believe it, but he hung with it. He was thrilled to be reading big books. In the last 4 months we have read 54 real books. We are reading 2-3 real books per week to my son (who turns 5 in a few days). We would never have the time to do that if we watched television. We are reading Little House on the Prairie right now, and it’s geared for 12 year olds.

  18. I have to have my morning news shows…Frankly, I don’t think watching them is any different that reading the blog opinions of others – both are very repetitive with their information and shaded with opinion. I love it all!

    Eric, don’t feel bad…we can be open about our guilty love of American Idol, Survivor, Star Trek, House, CSI, and Law and Order here! And our kids would get along great singing, “We did it, we did it, we did it, Hooray!” And good for your kid – it is exciting to watch them learn new things. Honestly, I like watching mine watch the show. She knows what coming up next in the sequence of events and she knows the dances. It is alot of fun to watch her imitate what she sees.

    Wade, I am glad your plan for your family works out. It is neat to see the different dynamics of parenting and scheduling in families. We just do it different and that’s okay. It is awesome about the books. I remember when my oldest was about 8 and she started reading the Harry Potter books on her own. I thought that was cool on its own. Went to a new level after she watched the movie, looked at me and said, “the book was better.”

  19. Don’t get me wrong, when my wife and I were first married, I was a champion couch potato, and I can still go “into the zone” if the TV is on to Cops, Dog the Bounty Hunter, or Dallas SWAT (law enforcement reality genre is my weakness). But… I just don’t have time, and I don’t make the time for something that is low on the priority list. Now, I will admit to downloading the SWAT series onto my iPod so I can watch during plane rides and such, but I don’t worry about catching shows on television.

    I look back to the original purpose of your post, April, and it was about avoiding burnout and dealing with getting things done. When I look at the most important goals and ambitions of my life, will watching a television show help me achieve that? Pretty much, the answer is still “NO” – I’ll allow myself to indulge in the food network or the weather channel because I can easily tune them out at will. TV will not raise my children. TV will not help me write my next manuscript. TV will not prepare my lessons or grade exams/final papers. TV will not get me into heaven. TV will not make me a better person.

    I’ll end with a favorite quote (unfortunately, have never found the originator of this):
    “Theatre is life; film is art; television is furniture”

  20. Wade Young says:

    Well said, Tim. TV will not raise your kids, and TV will not get you to heaven.

  21. Ha! I had almost forgot the original post 🙂

    The funny thing is TV helps me avoid burnout…I am up at three in the morning because that’s when my brain works the best. I spend the morning creating new thoughts and ideas. Then the kids get off to school. I spend the day working. I spend the evening wrapping up and hanging out with my kids. Off to bed for them at 8…that’s 17 hours of being “on.” 8-10 (maybe 11), it’s the tv’s turn to be on and I am off 🙂

  22. Wow. I didn’t realize you were so passionate about this Wade. I took considerable offense to your first paragraph. I felt anger (or maybe it was sarcasm) in your writing when you commented about how every homeless person in Denver knows their animals and colors (It would have been easier to just call me an idiot). I obviously didn’t articulate my point very well. I understand that my daughter hasn’t learned her colors and animals from tv, but she has learned them in Spanish (but that is not the point).

    Again, my point isn’t that “oh yeah, my daughter is a genius from watching tv.” And, my point isn’t “TV is Awesome for them.” And my point isn’t to try and see who’s kid is better. My point is that there are some tv shows that can teach them a few things. Just like there are books that can teach them, and school that can teach them, and their sunday school and church that can teach them, and their parents that can teach them, and their friends that can teach them. I don’t believe I said that “TV is educational.” If so, I misspoke. What I meant was that there “are some tv shows that can be educational.” Do we sit down and watch full length action movies with her? No. We save that for “our time,” after the kids have gone to bed.

    My wife and I also love to read books with our daughter. In fact, we try and help her read them to us. We make sure and read her books every day. Now, I suppose we differ in that I do consider “kids books” just as real as novels (of course my daughter is also only 2-1/2), however I do think it is great that you are diving into some much bigger books with your kids. In fact, you have made me think that maybe we should take on some “tougher” reads with ours.

    I think Tim has it right when he says “TV won’t raise my kids.” I fully agree with this statement, and the both of you, because I don’t use the tv for that purpose. I know there are parents out there that sit their kids in front of the tv so that they can do other things, just like some sit them with a pile of books, or a pile of toys, all so they can do other things. What’s important is the interaction and learning that can take place from that interaction. That’s why we play “with” our kids, and watch Dora “with” our kids, and read books “with” our kids; instead of just sitting them down and letting them do it on their own!

    And finally, yes, tv will not get us into heaven. That is why I thank God that my family has such a strong love for Jesus. All I can pray for is that my daughter will see her mother and father’s love of God in everything we do, and choose to follow Him.

    April, I apologize for the long rant, especially since it wasn’t really the focal point of your post. I think when all is said and done, it really does come down to spending quality time with our kids. Wade and Tim (and everyone else for that matter) I apologize if I have offended any of you. That was not the point of my comments. I really do respect and admire how you have chosen to raise your kids, and I suppose I just felt that I needed to defend a bit how we have chosen to raise ours.

    Again, great post April, and great discussion (even if it is a bit off on a tangent)!!

  23. Eric – no apologies needed. You have always been a welcome guest here and a gracious host over at your place on the web.

    I think it is important to remember that houses, families, kids…they are all different. Even looking at my four kids…they are so different – excited about different things, interested in different hobbies, learning in different ways, growing into different people.

  24. Thank you for the friendly reminder April. We do need to realize that “people” are different.

    I appreciate your hospitality over here!

  25. Wade Young says:

    Since the subject is balance, one of the best skills to have in life is to not get easily offended. I make it a policy to not be offended, and it has served me well.

    As far a the concept that there are just different ways of handling family life — to each their own — and not one necessarily better than the other — I have to disagree with that.

    In our modern era we have the benefit of science. Books are scientifically proven to be beneficial to both children and adults. The value of television is yet to be proven scientifically. Anecdotally, we all know television is bad for us, both adults and children. Whether a little hurts or not is undetermined. However, people aren’t watching a little. They are watching 5-7 hours per day. Those of you who watch television — I bet you watch way more than you realize, particularly when you add in going to the movies and renting movies in addition to normal television viewing.

    Freedom is great. If April wants to turn off a couple of hours per day, that is the fabulous thing about free will. I don’t like the idea of turning myself off, which is why you won’t find me in front of a box that often. Relaxation is better achieved through meditation, prayer, reading, walking and talking with your spouse.

    Two nights ago we had a big snowstorm in Denver. We took our son out around 8 p.m. and played in the snow. We live right in the middle of things, but there were only a couple of other people out. Everyone else was home watching TV instead of enjoying the beauty of the snow storm;)

  26. Eric – always!

    Wade – I think there are appropriate times for offense and appropriate times for the water off the duck’s back approach…but I think that’s a whole post in and of itself.

    Thinking that all families should run the same brings visions of Stepford wives. Being the mother of four and viewing different families in different environments, I know what works for me would not work for others. I also know that what works for one of my children does not work for the others. Funny thing about individuals…differences and all.

    For example – I don’t like the snow. I have lived in it…I hate it. I prefer really hot days…days when some prefer to stay inside…not better or worse, just different. Also, I would prefer my kids watch the Discovery channel that read trashy romance novels. I am just one that does not typically make blanket judgments…that has worked well for me.

    We are going to have to agree to disagree and be appreciative that it is obvious that we are fortunate to understand the importance of wanting the best for our kids and our family.

  27. You may be right. I just don’t feel like junk food in moderation is bad.

    I admire your passion. Your family is lucky to have you. My blog is lucky to have you. I hope you continue to keep the conversation lively on all my topics. People that make me think and challenge thought are always welcome here!

  28. Wade Young says:

    Comparing watching TV or not to liking or not liking snow or hot weather isn’t an appropriate comparison. Weather isn’t bad for people; television is. And I agree that not everything that people read is beneficial.

    I never said that all families should be run the same. If everyone were to throw away their televisions tomorrow, that would not result in a Stepford Wives scenario. People would still be diverse. However, I have yet to see anyone step forward with scientific evidence that television is good for people. We all know that television is junk food for the mind. If anyone can show a study that proves otherwise, I would love to hear it.

  29. Wade Young says:

    I agree that junk food in moderation is fine — that is why I let my kid watch a DVD every Friday evening. Thank you for providing a forum like this. Back and forth discussion is on my list of things that are good for people.

  30. Wade – thank you for participating. You have to promise to do it more often 🙂

    It is on my short list of cool things too 🙂

  31. April – you have to be absolutely cheesing about the conversation this post has generated… I’d love to see one of my posts generate this kind of meaningful traffic.

    While Wade’s contributions may be perceived as bordering on the dogmatic from his passionate approach, I do have to agree with his earlier comment about choosing whether or not to be offended (Hmmm, I may have to pick up on this post for that one, April). A favorite quote of mine is from Eleanor Roosevelt (truly one of the sharpest minds of the 20th century). She once said, “Nobody can make me feel inferior without my consent.” I’m around a lot of people who choose to get their shorts in a wad about the dumbest things. Somebody holds them publicly accountable. Somebody makes a comment which does not coincide with their views. Somebody makes an off-handed remark. And instead of letting it roll like water off a duck’s back, they make a choice to react. The ironic thing is that they come across as very unaccountable in their reaction. “I HAD to say SOMETHING” or “I couldn’t let her get away with that.”

    Fun discussion… Wade, I bet you and I could have a great chat over coffee some time.

  32. Oh, and Wade, to say weather isn’t bad for people isn’t necessarily accurate either. I hit an ice patch the other day, went airborne, and landed squarely on my hip (sigh… poetry in motion). Today we’re getting a major snow and ice storm that has already killed 18 people here in the Midwest. I’m siding with April on that argument.

  33. Wade Young says:

    People die from heat in the South too. Materially speaking, weather isn’t bad for people.

  34. Wade Young says:

    Funny that you all think I am passionate about his issue. I’m actually not passionate about this issue at all. I’m simply stating the facts. I’m a very live and let live kind of guy. To each their own.

  35. Tim – 🙂 It is a wonderfully unexpected outcome!

    Wade – you are great to have here. And if you aren’t passioante about this, please tell me something you are passionate about and I will surely write about it…in fact, I am amazed you don’t have a blog of your own – at least not one I could find…if I missed it, direct me to it now 😉

    Coffee anyone?

  36. Whoa… (and my mistake for not following links)… Wade, you DON’T have a blog? Dude, that’s criminal! The blogosphere needs people like you! If you’re this great on commenting, I can only imagine the posts you could write.

    Get thee to a blog!

  37. I am a guest blogger on Lenderama (http://blog.mariah.com/), but that’s boring mortgage stuff. I am also the author of My Brain Doesn’t Cheat on My Wife: A humorous look at how one married man achieved mental fidelity in a world of temptation. I have had the opportunity to be on some of the biggest radio shows in the country promoting the book. That has been fun. You can check that out at http://www.wadeyoung.com. That’s all the writing I have done so far. I don’t want to have the pressure of having to keep up a blog. I admire what it takes for April to keep two blogs going. I am looking to pick up one or two more blogs where I can guest post on, though. Tim and April: if you want a copy of my book, send me your mailing address, and I’ll send one out. Like me, you are probably so busy that you have little time to read, so no offense taken if you don’t want a copy.

  38. See, here’s the thing Wade- she maintains several blogs, parents, practices real estate, speaks publicly, AND makes time to read the paper stuff! She’s Superwoman!!! 🙂

  39. Lani… shhhh – you’re not supposed to give away her alter-ego

  40. Crap…guess I don’t need the phone booth anymore…the gig is up 🙂

    Thanks guys! The encouragement is much appreciated!

    Wade – I’d love to read the book…10020 Ford Ave, Suite 103, Richmond Hill, GA 31324.

  41. Bonnie Davis says:

    When my life is out of balance I make a to do list and organize it by absolute priorities and then hack off the last ten things as being unimportant. One of my clients has a great article on this topic http://www.eileenmcdargh.com/article_art.html

  42. That is a great article Bonnie. Thanks for coming by and thanks for sharing.

Trackbacks

  1. carpe factum says:

    DUH-cisions…

    Nobody can make me feel inferior without my consent. -Eleanor Roosevelt There’s a lot of great discussion going on right now about how we react to each other. Peace on earth? Nope. Good will towards men? Um, not so much….

  2. […] It’s all about balance […]

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