As responsibilities increase and time becomes a commodity, most of us find our ideal lifestyles slipping into the distance. For years, I have rationalized the trade-offs I’ve made, assuming that being ultra-productive in my work would without fail carry me closer to the ideal lifestyle for myself and my family. Only recently have I realized that it’s possible–all too common, in fact–to become so focused on success in your work that you lose sight of the bigger picture.
*Note to self: This is all supposed to be going somewhere, and that somewhere involves spending more time with the people you love, and partaking in the (non-work) activities that move your soul.
But are there really enough hours in a day to 1. make satisfactory career progress, 2. pursue your hobbies, and 3. spend ample time with family and friends?
Enter Getting Things Done (GTD).
Here’s a blog that’s been on my reading list for months. I have known since I subscribed in May that its pages are well-written and filled with advice that will push me to make substantial progress toward achieving my ideal lifestyle–a lifestyle in which all areas of my life are receiving the attention they deserve. But you wanna know the sad truth? It’s the only blog on my list of over a hundred that I have avoided like the plague. It’s as though my nagging grandmother is waiting inside to remind me of all the stuff she’s told me that I didn’t listen to. And she’s not the old crusty grandma with outdated advice that you’d expect; she’s the bright, young, tech-savvy, relevant-to-the-world-you-live-in Grandma 2.0, who is sensitive to all the challenges and stress that you face on a daily basis.
So why exactly would anyone be afraid to read a few pages of GTD and get hooked on it (like I know I will)?
The answer is plain and simple: Fear of change.
It’s embarrassing to admit, but I am so into my routine of staying up all night hammering away at my keyboard, sleeping the few hours I have between dawn and my first lesson, and squeezing my reading and training in only when time allows.
I’ve never been a fan of forced routines or waking up early. But let’s face it: I am currently locked into an inferior routine which dictates a sleeping pattern with incredibly low efficiency and an exercise pattern with very low impact. The truth is: I’ve known for years that I needed to implement a healthier routine, I’ve known for years that this is where my battle for lifestyle freedom must be fought, and I’ve simply become a master of sidestepping the issue.
Well, not anymore. It has to change.
I’m pretty sure the baby will make sure that it all changes anyway, but I’m going to make a proactive choice to investigate my options now, and get to work on making my career justify my lifestyle and not the other way around.
To put it simply, I have to remember that I am human, and that humans ought to give and share and embrace life where possible.
**Note: There are many books and blogs about time-management/organizing systems like GTD, but this one caught my eye due to its simple and focused approach and the author’s writing style. Please have a look.
***And on a slightly tangential note: If you’re interested in an example of someone who seems clearly to have found a way to balance his personal and professional lives, perhaps with a great deal of overlap between the two, I invite you to be moved by Dan Meyer’s summer video project over at his blog Dy/Dan. Truly inspiring stuff.