(Originally posted October 2015, edited slightly, and reposted) We are all always so busy! How do we begin to consider demands on our time, as well as the idea of balance? Part of the equation is time management. It's hard to achieve a balance among all our engagements without some way to master this juggling game. I like to think of time management as being in service to my larger goal of balance, or “exchange” - the in-come and out-flow of energy, love, time. Put as a question, am I both spent and replenished by all I am engaged in? The answers can be different for each of our engagements. Some examples of exchange:
The most obvious exchange may be at work, where we contribute our talents in return for a paycheck.
Our volunteer efforts have a great impact in the community. Though we are not paid, what returns to us - deep satisfaction, for example - can often be greater than financial remuneration.
There can be a great sense of mutuality in our significant relationships, though the natural ebb and flow means we sometimes give more, or receive more.
But when work, relationships or other engagements regularly leave us desert-dry, with no oasis in sight, it is time to re-assess. Even in less extreme cases, when the balance, or exchange, is tipped toward the other side of the scale, it begs acknowledgment. Burnout, resentment or disengagement may be right around the corner. The Mayo Clinic suggests the following questions, paraphrased below:
Have you become cynical or critical?
Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started once you arrive?
Have you become irritable or impatient with others?
Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements?
Do you feel disillusioned about your efforts?
These questions can be helpful when we consider our jobs, our personal relationships or our volunteer activities.
This is not to suggest, by the way, that we eliminate all sacrifice. We may spend ourselves completely in one effort, expecting no return, but can be sufficiently renewed by something else. Rather, it is to recall that we cannot continue to empty ourselves – in any capacity – without replenishment.
So let’s consider balance - the cyclical in-come and out-flow of energy across everything we do - to ensure that we are nourished even as we spend ourselves. And, pay attention to the unequal exchanges that leave us empty.
“When the well is dry, we know the worth of water.” Benjamin Franklin