C. S. Lewis famously said, “When first things are put first, second things don’t diminish, they increase. You can’t get second things by putting them first; you can get second things only by putting first things first.”
Michael Hyatt spells this out this work-life balance.
“I think it is really important that one’s career come after God, self, spouse, and children. I have seen too many people sacrifice the other four on the altar of work. Usually when that happens, their work life crumbles, too.
Work can be a rewarding experience if you keep it from becoming an idol. However, if you don’t put it in its place, it can suck the life out of you.”
(From Hyatt’s ebook Creating your Personal Life Plan).
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My current challenge is developing my blog while not neglecting the other important components of my life—my marriage, my parenting, my physical fitness and my home. (My spiritual life I rarely neglect for blogging. I cannot do without prayer and scripture—I slip into depression and lose focus.)
I would love beautiful art to spring from a beautiful life, a happy marriage and happy parenting. That not many have managed it is no reason not to try.
So I am planning one walk a week with Roy, usually on Mondays, and one family outing with the girls. We are going to watch The Winter’s Tale at Stratford on Avon this Saturday, and also walk around that beautiful town. And on Friday, Roy, Zoe and I are going to see Mr. Darwin’s Tree, a monologue/ “memoir” of Darwin’s life.
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Ann Voskamp, that splendidly productive woman, swears by the Pomodoro Technique. Basically, it’s work for 25 minutes by a timer; take a five minute break; repeat 3 times. After the fourth Pomodoro, 100 minutes of work, take a 20 minute break.
I am giving this a trial to see if it might work for me.
Disadvantages—Creatively, it takes me a while to settle down and start writing. I do a bit of reading, both books and online to build up momentum and have words coursing through me before I start. So a break in what I am writing every 25 minutes might be hard.
1. Sitting for long hours slows down your metabolism and your body kind of goes into shut-down, whereas moving every hour raises it.
2. A short break of 5 minutes can break the spell and give you perspective on what you are writing. And new ideas.
3. I might be able to work for longer because of the oxygenation the breaks give me
4. Adherents say the Pomodoro Technique sharpens one’s focus. Heck, anyone can do anything for 25 minutes.
5. It might be a way to get boring tasks like tidying up done without allocating a slot for them
6. It would give me a slot for things like weights and yoga, and apparently even 5 minutes of push-ups or surya namaskar has an incremental effect. You are stronger than if you hadn’t done them!!
7. I could use the 20 minute slot to do things that often drop off my day like gardening, or working on my procrastinated chore it.
So am going to try it. Will let you know how I get on.
Ann Voskamp has written a splendid post —25 ways to save your sanity in 2013—which gives us an insight into her holy, near monastic life!! and how she does it all—runs six children, a blog, writes a beautiful book, and remains a sweet, godly, Scripture-saturated woman. She is my role-model blogger in this respect. (When it comes to leading a disciplined, organized life, my role-model blogger is Michael Hyatt).
Now, if I tried all of Ann’s 25 ways to save sanity this week, I would, well, perhaps not lose my sanity, but certainly, exhaust myself.
But I will slowly work through her list, adapting what’s right for me and my life.
Here’s Ann on the importance of a schedule
“Forty-five percent of what we do every day is habitual,”
“To sing new songs, we need to pay attention to our rituals, the beat of our days, even more than focusing on self-discipline.”
She suggests thinking of the rhythms and actions of the day as a symphony, established note following note.
“Create your rhythm, a harmony of habits. Living in cacophony is more wearing than the hard work of practicing habits. “Laziness means more work in the long run,” writes C.S. Lewis. Flubbing away at whatever strikes our fancy leaves us in far worse dire straits than applying ourselves to the work of playing concertos.”
Our schedule “becomes our everyday liturgy.”
Incredibly, I don’t really have a fixed schedule, a symphony for my days, though there are things I do most days. But, perhaps, through trial and error, I should develop one which works for me.
Anyway, here’s how I have got on with my New Year’s Goals
On the first things first principle, I have been working on a little book (first draft done, and the whole book should be done next week) and a little bit on my memoir, and have had a good blogging week.
I usually put the blogging first, afraid that if I do it last, I won’t have the mental energy or focus to see it clearly. But I have realized that I don’t need to blog everyday, that the blog still grows with three posts a week since most readers don’t visit every day.
And yeah, since I started putting first things first, and working on the big book and the little book first, the blog has been growing. I have more time to think about, and more time to write my posts.
Which did astonishingly well because of this
Wow, the power of the big guys.
|Dec. avg.||Goal: Jan 21||Achieved||Goal: Jan 28||Goal – year end|
|Writing||7h 10 min||19 hours||9 hrs29 mins||10 hours||35h|
|Social media||11h 17 min||3 hours 30 min||7 hours54 mins||3 hrs30 min||3h 30min|
|News, Blogs, Magazines||5h 21 min||3 hours 30 min||5 hrs2 mins||3 hours30 min||3 hours|
A second week of ice and snow derailed my plans again, but since the thaw I have been making up for lost time.
|Week of||Goal||Actually done|
I need to build up to 11 miles by September for my walking pilgrimage in Tuscany. Yeah, a bit behind, but using Kaizen, and building time and distance and soon, I hope, speed everyday, I hope to get there
Dreaded plateau, which I hope to break with increased exercise, and watching what I eat! Cumulative loss 3.4 lb
3 Domestic Order
Here’s the bookshelf I have tidied, and here is the bookshelf I want to work on. Some bookshelves are overstacked, some are understacked, so I guess I’ll have to balance them.
I limit my clothes to whatever fits in two dressers, one tallboy, and one closet. So whenever I buy anything, I get rid of something, what Irene calls, “cutting off my nose to make more room on my face.” Once a year, I purge everything that doesn’t fit, is worn, faded, stained, or that I just don’t like and never wear.
This is the week for my annual purge. Here is my before picture.