On accepting my own limitations

Lately, I’d give anything for an extra 12 hours in the day. Between full-time work, daily blogging, my book project, exercise, household chores, and spending time with my husband, there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. Add to that our travel plans and moving preparations, and I’m completely overwhelmed.

Then there are the projects that I want to do that I just can’t fit into my schedule — the books on my to-read list, the unfinished quilts that have collected dust for 3 years, the piles and piles of clutter that need to be cleared before we pick up and move again, the movies I’ve yet to see, and my poor dog who isn’t walked nearly enough.

I wish I had a solution, but honestly, I don’t. I love that I have such a varied list of interests, and I love that my busy schedule keeps me from ever feeling bored. But I hate the way it feels to see the book on my nightstand, and the bookmark that serves as a painful reminder that I’ve yet to make a dent in it. I hate the feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach when I look at my guest room, crammed full of stuff that I haven’t even touched months. I miss having the time to do my favorite relaxing projects that I love — quilting and reading and photography.

It seems that the only solution is to give some of it up, but I can’t choose. So I end up back at the same place — struggling to balance the things that I must do with the things that I love.

As kids, we’re told that we can do it all. As adults, we face the tough reality that it’s just not possible.

How do you find a balance?

10 thoughts on “On accepting my own limitations

  1. Kacie

    I hear ya. First of all, the “you can do it all!” line is pure BS. There’s only so many hours in the day, and some things just have to wait.

    There’s a blog post that I’m going to read when I have time (lol!): http://simplemom.net/fighting-the-tyranny-of-the-urgent-at-home/

    And it seems to be about making time for important but not pressing things.

    Kind of like how when you’re at a newspaper, you need to edit some evergreen in-depth stories that can run whenever. But they aren’t as urgent as the ones for P1 the next day. Still, they’re important!

    I think the “squeaky wheel gets the oil” is true.

    Is there anything you can cut back just a little bit on? Maybe blogging 4x a week instead of more?

    I don’t find a balance. It’s not possible for me. So somethings I just choose to let go. Sometimes, I don’t blog for a week. I trust that people have subscribed and they’ll know when I have something to say again.

    Sometimes, I let the chores really pile up. I’ll put a bunch of clean laundry (still in a pile, or maybe folded) in my bedroom and close the door and just not look at it for awhile. Etc.
    .-= Kacie´s last blog ..Using cloth diapers without your own washer/dryer =-.

  2. The Non-Student

    Overwhelming myself is one of my best and most-practiced skills! I can be having a totally normal day and within a few seconds, work myself into a complete and utter panic, convince myself I’m a failure, and give up on whatever task I was doing. Starting something on my “to-do” list makes me think of 10 other things I “need” to do, and I can’t stay focused enough to get the first thing done. It’s exhausting.

    One of my new favorite phrases is “It’s not an option.” I learned this from a book about healthy living, and I think it’s beginning to work from me. When I’m beginning to get freaked out, I say to myself, “Getting worked up is not an option.” When I’m at the gym and I want to give up and go do the billion things that have to get done, I say, “You are working out for 30 minutes. Giving up is not an option.” It’s a one-step-at-a-time, day-to-day process but so far being kind but stern with myself is proving helpful.
    .-= The Non-Student´s last blog ..And We’re Back =-.

  3. Christina @ Northern Cheapskate

    I can definitely relate to this post. It’s so hard to balance it all – to be all that you want to be to everyone.

    The thing that has helped me the most is to stop comparing myself to everyone else. I just do the best I can do… sometimes that’s really great… sometimes it’s just okay… but if I only focus on what I can’t get done, it just eats away at me.
    .-= Christina @ Northern Cheapskate´s last blog ..Money-Saving Monday: Lots of Freebies! =-.

  4. ctreit

    My wife and I have the same problem. There are just so many interesting things to do, aren’t there? My wife had to cut back when her mother told her a little while ago that she had to slow herself down for 8 months and focus only on the most important things. But I don’t think this has helped much. Driven people are, well, driven. Not much we can do about that….

  5. Fifi

    I feel your pain. It is a daily reminder for me to take it easy and not beat myself up if everything on my “to do” doesn’t get done. After many years I’ve realized that I can realistically only do 3 extra things a day, and sometimes less, in addition to daily tasks (full-time job, exercise, household chores, etc) that need to get done. I try to stick with the things I truly love and make me feel good. Unfortunately that does mean giving up a few things, but the other things I hold onto really make me feel complete. Achieving balance has become more of a state of mind.

  6. kim

    It’s all about prioritizing. None of us can “do it all” but we can shoose what things are most imporant to us in our particular season in life.

    Before I became a parent I savored my quiet evenings at home with my husband, reading all the books on my list, and the house was always neat. Add in parenting a toddler while still working the same hours. I’m ok letting the dusiting slide, read less than I’d ideally like, and we have really pared down our social events. But there are somethings I refuse to give up; a nice family dinner together most nights of the week, unrushed bedtime routines, and time with the people I love the most.

    My advice is to put some activities/hobbies “to rest” for awhile. It doesn’t have to be permanent but it can keep you sane for your life at this moment.

  7. Abigail

    Hoo boy, I know this one. Having a type-A personality and chronic fatigue is… well… let’s just say “interesting.”

    On the other hand, it’s forced me to slow down so I don’t have a nervous breakdown in my 30s. (I was really advanced and had it in my 20s!)

    Seriously, though, it’s infuriating as hell when I just wish that I could work a real job, earn a real paycheck or just have the energy to make it out of the house after some work and a chore or two. But, it’s also taught me from a relatively young age (26ish by the time I actually started listening instead of trying to push through) that I don’t have a choice about listening to my body.

    It’s simple: I have to cut back. I have to be sane. I have to (gasp) ask for help. That was probably the hardest. And I still have my moments when I try to do a zillion things at once. Often my husband has to rein me in. (Otherwise, inevitably, I take on all the responsibility and then he gets in trouble for not helping out more. Poor guy!)

    I still get angry when I hit the wall so quickly. But I have also learned that if I accept it and go lie down for a bit — sleep, watch TV, read, whatever — I may be able to recharge for something low key later on.

    I think the real balancing act comes from stopping BEFORE you hit the wall. (For me, hitting the wall is a serious problem. It can set me back a couple of days — barely any activity, definitely not leaving the house — and it can even get so bad that it kind of hurts to breathe. By which I mean, the basic act of breathing takes so much work I start blinking back tears.) It takes ages to really get a handle on seeing the symptoms and stopping before you’ve used up your energy. Because, well, as women we have a zillion things to do. We want to use up every last scrap of energy while we have it.

    But once you hit the wall enough, you start to learn that it makes more sense to use MOST of your reserves up. When the warning signs hit — irritability, muscles that get shaky with fatigue, or starting to feel depleted of energy — find a way to curtail the activity. Sit down or lie down or just stop what you’re doing and find a quiet activity to do. You can recharge and then do a little more. Otherwise, you deplete the battery completely and you won’t get anything out of it for the next couple of days.

    It sounds easy in theory. You just have to get past the stubborn part of you that believes that if you SHOULD be able to do it all, then you CAN do it all. And you just have to try harder. I now tell people that “should” is one of the most dangerous words in the english language.
    .-= Abigail´s last blog ..A lazy post and a roundup =-.

  8. Christina

    I can very well relate to your post. I’m overwhelmed with work but then again, I must admit that I’m only human and I can’t do things all at once. I like my job doing several things at a time, occupied most of the time but there comes a time that I forgot the chill out…relax and have a break. Well, I guess I really need to learn how to balance things. When you’re all grown up, it’s not that easy but hopefully I will find a way to enjoy life to the fullest. Work and Play comes together…I just keep forgetting that.

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