Every morning I wake up at somewhere between 3:30 and 4am. The very first thing I do is roll over and check my email on the iPhone. If there’s an issue -and there often is- that needs attention, then I fire up the laptop & shoot off replies. But my favorite hour of the day? Is the hour between 6 and 7am. It’s the most peaceful hour of my life each day. The house is quiet while I pick up from the day before, (1) it’s clean and lovely while I’m making my coffee, and then I sit with my laptop and listen to the news while I make “the list.” Even if I don’t have time to work out? I always have time for this hour because the list HAS to get done.
“The List” is my running ‘to-dos’ for the day & week. I practice the “urgent/important” matrix for making my list; many of you might be familiar with the 4 quadrants separated by a cross on a piece of paper – if not, see below.
Within each quadrant, I break it into 3 sections: work, home, and “just for me.” I’d like to say that I’m really balanced in making sure that all three of those sections are hit. But, the truth is? The “Just for Me” section most frequently gets thrown in the “Not Urgent, Not Important.”
But of course, that? Is not true. Nor does it have any ‘semblance’ of balance.
What Should Be Vs What Is (aka Reality)…
And here’s what tends to happen when I do that: I gain weight because I stop working out, so I feel frumpy. When I feel frumpy, I tend to go out less and drink more (diet) soda/eat poorly. It affects my work, too; although I might work more hour-wise? I tend to get really frazzled and overloaded.. and my ADD kicks into overdrive. That’s right, I’m one of the 8 million working adults in the United States with Attention Deficit Disorder. So striving for “balance” is especially important to me. If I’m taking medication to help with focus (2), then it’s easy for me to “zone in” and can sit and work from 5am to 11pm without interruption.. if I’m not, then taking time for myself to do things like workout, step away from lists I use to keep me on track, and quiet the 1500 different trains of thought running around in my brain? Is fairly critical.
So why is it so easy to cast aside? I think it’s because we still segregate out the various sections of our life – even in “the lists” we make. Work here, Personal there, Family obligations somewhere else. We largely don’t talk about being ADD or the stuff we need to get done at work – and maybe there’s something prudent in that, depending on environment – because it can be perceived as a weakness, or lack of dedication to “the team.” In doing so, we create TWO teams: our “work team,” and our “family/personal” one. Since the work team pays the bills? It usually wins the game.
So What To Do? You Tell Me…
I don’t have a great answer for the integration of that; I also don’t believe “balance” is achievable. Just like there’s no equal partnership over the long-term, I think there’s no way to (successfully) dole out your time to each “section” of your life in equal parts. Sometimes, the “work team” is going to need more; otherwise, the kid(s)/significant other/pets/whatever will demand more of your time & attention. That’s probably okay.. but it’d be better if we could communicate why time is being allocated where it is with involved parties. Oh, and if you don’t lose yourself in the process.
And Now We Get to ‘The Big Bird’
And that’s really all about discernment & self-discipline, when you get down to it. Something that I couldn’t help but think about when I took time out last night to watch the Presidential Candidates’ Debate last night with my youngest. I’ll not opine as to who ‘won’ or ‘lost,’ but I did notice something that was interesting to me – Romney’s strategy shone through last night. After spending several weeks rather frustrated at the near complete lack of detail on practically every issue, last night? Romney finally shared some details (3). By being disciplined enough to have leaked nothing prior, he was able to catch the President [somewhat] off-guard… Obama had no chance to prepare solid rebuttals to much of what was said. Ergo, he appeared to some as floundering in some of his responses. It was interesting.
What was also interesting was the participation by the rest of the US during the debate, which has become the most “tweeted about” event in history. 10.3 million tweets in a 90-minute period showed America was watching – and had something to say. Of course, a lot of it (17k tweets/min, actually) was about Big Bird & Romney’s comment that he’d pull public funding from PBS. I couldn’t help but think that was a bad move to make a correlation between Big Bird and the moderator; he basically single-handedly created an emotional, nostalgic land-mine for his opponents to use with the uninformed masses. Don’t believe me? PBS has been trending at 10k tweets/minute since the comment was made and 21.9 million memes have been made.
Even though I get the psychology behind the “why” of the Big Bird social response, part of me is sad that out of all the issues, that’s the one we snagged onto. Beyond all that, though, I guess I’m glad that we had more interaction during this debate – not just from the candidates, but from the citizens… the voters. Those tweets, memes, and Facebook updates will help us start conversations & make (hopefully) more balanced decision when voting begins (4).
(1) something I started so I wouldn’t dread evenings and grump at my kids because I’m picking up their junk while exhausted.
(2) I don’t always – for me things like lists, exercise, strict diet, and routine work for me unless there’s just an overload of work or critical focus projects. Then? ADHD medication is my friend; the stimulants help me focus.
(3) Though not nearly enough and he still needs to keep ONE position on something… he has flip-flopped a bit. I also noticed he was a little bossy with the moderator, but so was Obama and they both made me giggle.
(4) October 18th is early voting. Rock Your Vote, folks.