Since starting this blog a few months ago, I have thoroughly enjoyed being a book blogger. The only real problem I’ve come up against is that in writing about the books I read, I’m admitting to everyone I know that I spend a good amount of time reading (in my defense, I read pretty fast…doesn’t everyone say that, though?). And it’s pretty clear that I have a bunch of other going on, too, not the least of which is raising young children.
“You certainly have your plate full.”
Has anyone ever said that to you? I have been getting it a lot lately. As much as I appreciate the recognition that I’m taking on a good bit of work at this point in my life, having someone tell me that I appear to be busy to the max doesn’t really help me calm down about it. Or feel less guilty about some of the decisions I make. It also leaves me a few questions about this plate I’m apparently carrying around through life. Here are the most prominent ones:
1. How did I get this plate to begin with?
No one told me that upon entering adulthood, one also enters a buffet of busyness.
2. Can I get a bigger plate?
Does everyone have the same size plate? Who decides what size I get? Is there an upgrade available?
3. Who keeps sneaking stuff onto my plate?!
I know I didn’t put that activity on there. So who did? Is that allowed? Where are the buffet etiquette guidelines posted?
4. Is there a busyness pyramid?
Is there a guideline for what I’m supposed to put the most of on my plate? What is the busyness equivalent of vegetables?
I would think that a carb-loaded plate would have a lot of keep-life-going activities like grocery shopping, cooking, going to work, etc. And maybe a protein heavy diet would consist of lots of deep thinking and exercise. Maybe if you add lots of fruits and vegetables, you do a lot of good works. It’s all a bit confusing—what should I actually be putting on my plate? If someone could come up with an activity pyramid, I’d really appreciate it.
5. Where is this buffet’s exit?!!!
…..You can see, the plate of stuff to do metaphor is getting to me these days. I walk around thinking, “This plate is just too small.” But we all know it comes down to how I manage my time. As mentioned in the post There Is No Time To Find, everyone has to use his/her own set of priorities. We all make decisions every day about what we are and aren’t going to do. We don’t often get to choose the things we want to do most. A lot of times, we choose what’s most pressing. But we usually at least have a choice. Not many people can truthfully say, “I didn’t have time to do that.” The reality is there are things we choose not to do.
It’s really hard to say to say that to someone, though, because in essence we’re telling that someone we didn’t prioritize the same thing she prioritized. “Sorry, I didn’t have time to read that article you sent me.” “Sorry, I didn’t get chance to call you back.” “Sorry, honey, I haven’t had time to vacuum in three weeks.” We all say things like that, and that’s okay. What we all have come to understand is most everyone is really busy and decisions have to be made. (And we should remember that in all this busyness, people legitimately forget about things, too).While these decisions are, in fact, personal, we shouldn’t take them personally.
Still, it’s often impossible not to take them personally. Because time is a love language as much as anything else. As much as I wish life could be less like a buffet of activities to choose, I’m learning that my time decisions are usually people decisions. I’m just beginning to ask, “By deciding to spend my time doing _____, will I negatively or positively affect myself or someone else?” I try not to over think it or take other people’s decisions too personally. Yet it’s good to be aware that my time, just like your time, is a commodity in an economy that isn’t so much activity as much as it is relationships. So I try to make the decisions to wash dishes instead of read, or to read instead of wash dishes, based on how it will effect me and those around me. Will it be better for my husband to come home to a clean kitchen or a refreshed wife? Or can I somehow do this?
No, I can’t.
Will it be better to get an extra 30 minutes of sleep or spend an extra 30 minutes writing in my journal? Exercise or to fold laundry? To Return a phone call from a friend or pay a bill? The answer is different depending on the day. I’m just starting to realize how important it is to know what most refreshes me or drains me, what most serves my family or doesn’t. I need to know this kind of thing so I can make good decisions on how time is spent by me and everyone else in my family.
It’s really, really hard to think this way on a regular basis. I’ve barely begun working on it. But I hope that I’ll always be shifting time decisions around, in the attempt to arrange the stuff on this one-size-fits-all plate as best as I can. There is no exit from this life buffet that’s a better option than the blessing of work for my hands to do and people to do it for.
Remind me of that next time I complain about how much of my plate is taken up by washing dishes. 🙂