My friend Camille posted in her blog about how she felt bad that she'd neglected some household duties to help a friend. She asked her readers how they take care of their responsibilities and help others. I'm no expert, but here are some thoughts:
- Accept that you won't get everything done. There's just far too much to do in life for the time we have. This is hard for some people to do; the thought of anything being left undone grates on them. Letting go of the fantasy of “doing it all” can be difficult, but if you don't it will drive you nuts.
- Accept that some of the things that won't get done are worthwhile. This is even harder. You might feel bad that you didn't get time to organize your sock drawer, but that pales in comparison to not being able to volunteer at the soup kitchen. There are so many worthwhile things to do that we can't do them all; we must pick the ones that mean the most to us and focus on them. Worthwhile causes will be better served by a few devoted individuals than a lot of people who are spread too thin over many different pursuits.
- Accept that balancing priorities is difficult. Even doing your best, you will inevitably neglect something that you shouldn't. Such is life. If balancing life was easy, Stephen R. Covey would not be a millionaire.
- Learn to say “no.” This is very hard for me. Of course, we want to be able to say “yes,” and we should when we can. But when we're asked to do something, and it just doesn't leave time to do that more important stuff on the priority list, we have to work up the gumption to say, “I'm sorry, but I just can't do that right now.”
- Don't let one aspect of life monopolize you. We all have facets of our lives that should get attention: God, family, self, serving others. We should prioritize them, of course, but no one aspect should go completely ignored forever. For example, we sometimes tend to put off having time for ourselves indefinitely because there are more important things to do and we don't feel we can justify putting them off for “selfish reasons.” But the longer we go without recharging ourselves, the less effective we become at doing those more important things. It can be hard to say, “You know, I'm not going to [insert worthwhile activity here] because I need to take a nap or read a nice book,” but sometimes it's just what you gotta do. Yes, work before play and all that, but not to the point that you never, ever play.
On a metablogging front, I'm experimenting with comments. Feel free to leave a comment, should you feel so inclined, and please excuse any weirdness in my site template while I work it out.