finding the balance within the busy-ness
One of the reasons for living more frugally is to get off the work-to-consume cycle and spend more time doing the things that have deeper meaning in our lives.
But even ‘the simple life’ can lead to busyness. Substituting one lot of work for another isn’t the way to find balance between those things we have to do and those things we want to do.
The reason to live more simply is to simply live more.
The following six points explore how you can find more balance in your life between doing the things you have to and doing the things you love.
Simplify your commitments
We have a tendency today to over-commit, both our own time and especially our children’s time. If you’re struggling with balance in your life, the first thing to do is simplify your commitments – stick to the commitments that are meaningful or important to you and say no to the rest.
By simplifying our commitments, we allow more time to do the things that are important to us and spend more quality, undistracted time with the people who matter most to us.
It’s easy to go with the day to day flow, drifting without making conscious choices to do this and not that.
I think of this as living in ‘maintenance mode’ rather than in ‘building mode’. In maintenance mode we do the minimum we need to do just to get by. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with this, there are times each day when we need to work on maintaining ourselves, our relationships, our immediate environment and our chosen standard of living.
On the other side of the coin is building mode: doing new things that improve our quality of life, both on a personal level, a family level and a community level. It can mean changing habits, learning new skills, trying new things.
Only living in maintenance mode and neglecting to live intentionally and build a better life is easier but leads to dissatisfaction. Choose to take one positive baby step each day towards your goals and you will be building a better today and a better tomorrow.
Let go of perfection
Stay at Home Mum linked to an interesting article about mothers lacking ‘me’ time. Juggling work, running a household, driving to and from extra curricular activities, childcare can make finding the time to pursue your own interests difficult. But when you read the comments in forums and on blogs, many women fill their potential ‘me time’ hours with unnecessary chores in the effort to maintain a perfectly clean house.
A clean house is a idea of perfection that I’ve long let go of. I used to be borderline OCD (previous flatmates would argue there was no ‘borderline’ about it). I’ve since realised that the world keeps turning if the beds aren’t made, the toys are left on the floor for days on end, the vacuuming isn’t done and there’s a black ring around the bath. It’s not selfish to choose to read a book, enjoy a cuppa or go have fun (alone or with your family) instead.
Let go of the idea of being the perfect mother, the perfect woman, the perfect employee, the perfect partner – perfection doesn’t exist.
treat your time as precious
Television is a time thief. So is Spider Solitaire. There’s no two ways about it, it’s easier (and healthier) to find balance with less time in front of the box. We watch TV for relaxation, but it actually puts our brain in a stupor and can leave us feeling more tired than we were before we turning it on. There are better ways to relax.
We all have 24 hours in the day. The difference is what we choose to do with those hours. It’s easy to fill time with unimportant minutiae and passive entertainment. But for true happiness, it is better pursue your passions. This not only relaxes you, it can energise you also.
You will find yourself absorbed in what you’re doing. Sometimes time will pass without your notice, and you won’t be aware of yourself or your surroundings, just absorbed in your work. That ’s called the flow state. You become one with your work. This is the source of deep gratification and great accomplishment…
You’ll never get the flow state by watching TV but activities like rock climbing, writing, skiing, painting, dancing, or programming are good candidates….
It ’s one of life’s ironies that we often choose to spend time passively as a gift to ourselves, when true satisfaction and deep happiness come from doing the things that require more of us. [source: free eBook from 17,000 Days.]
organisation and routines
While organisation and routines seem like the antithesis to a balanced lifestyle, they actually eliminate chaos, assist you in getting the necessary things done, while freeing up time for other pursuits.
Here’s an example of what I mean: when we stick to our current routine (and we don’t always), our night time goes something like this: we eat as a family at 5:30pm. Around 6pm, DH baths the little fella while I wash the dishes and tidy up. Then we have stories and milk and cuddles. Around 7pm the little fella goes to bed and we finish up whatever needs finishing. By 7:30pm, all the household chores are done and we have the rest of the evening free to do what we like.
The routine helps create balance between those things that need doing and everything else.
the seasons of life
There are some seasons in life that are more balanced than others. Times of imbalance can include raising young children, times of illness (yours or a family members), extra work commitments or extra community commitments.
It is during these times that prioritising and letting go of perfection becomes essential. They are also times when accepting help if it is offered, or seeking it out if it isn’t is the best thing you can do for your sanity.
Fighting against these seasons doesn’t work and leads to unhappiness. Remember, every season passes.
Despite all our modern conveniences, we seem to be busier than ever and crave more time to do meaningful activities or to just relax with our family. The world, however, wont bring you balance. You have to take control of your time and create the balance you want.
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