Monday, February 25, 2008

Finding Balance- 10 ways I stay sane

I'm really busy these days. Probably no more so than the rest of the world, but because I had the luxury of being a student the majority of my life, five day work weeks, meetings and working weekends, take a lot out of me. The first few months I found myself not returning phone calls, eating out way more than necessary, sleeping way less than practical and so stressed I felt I was running on fuel with a long over due oil change. I remember one particular day which involved 8.5 hours of driving and a very stressful meeting. I went home, crawled into bed and cried my eyes out. How was I going to balance all the things in need of balance? Over time I've managed to regain balance. E-mails are being returned as are phone calls, I'm eating homemade food, and my house no longer looks like a war zone.

I'm sharing the things I did that worked for me and helped me regain the balance between work and life. I hope it can be of some use to someone.

1. Hire cleaning service. Strictly speaking this is good advice though I'm a bit disappointed with those I've hired. Bobbette nearly annihilated my handmade rug, Bobeena quoted a price and then demanded another dropping her sweet demeanor into an evil ogre once I pointed this out. Bumbelina was decent but required me to follow her around and advise constantly. At the end of her job, I felt more exhausted than had I done it myself. But if you can find the right one, its worth the money.

2. In lieu of cleaning service: As I search for the perfect maid, and fill the role myself, I have made a 20 minute cleaning rule. Every work day, I check the clock and clean for 20 minutes. Its mind boggling how much can done with 20 dedicated minutes of cleaning. Today in 20 minutes I: wiped down my master bath counters, cupboards, cleaned all the toilets, hung up the clothes from my laundry and loaded the dishwasher. Doing it consistently, helps the house seem infinitely more manageable.

3. Reply ASAP to emails. I used to say "I'll reply later" and forget immediately though my intentions were sincere. Now I don't wait, I hit reply and answer.

4. Draft the longer emails. The Emails that are longer. DRAFT! I write, click draft. Slowly as I come back to it, it eventually gets written.

5. Work out during your lunch break. I ate out a lot because I wanted a break in my work day. Now I bring in my lunch and work out midday. You need a break to relax, why not maximize and exercise?

6. The moments that are off, take them off. I am still working on this. But how are you ever going to feel refreshed if you check your work email constantly and your voice mail? Its on your mind. It should be seperated from the rest of your life.

7. Call while driving. Get a good cell phone plan and call those you've been meaning to during the gritty rush hour commute. Turn your lemon into lemonade!

8. For your blogs. Getting google reader has helped me keep track of all the blogs I read in one spot and go to the ones updated when they do.

9. Accept that some things won't get done. Don't beat yourself up. Prioritize. Let the bottom few GO

10. Find a way to de-stress. It doesnt matter what it is but you need to make this the top priority. You need something daily that brings you down when you are way to high. For me its exercise at least thirty minutes and on particularly stressful times listen to some Sara McLaughlin. I know some people sit in their office with the lights off for ten minutes and just breathe deeply and let the stillness overtake them.

How do you stay afloat on the surfboard of life?

20 comments:

Bee Amma said...

hehe i barely stay afloat. I just worked out how many hours i worked in the past 7 days, and it came out to 81. Thats alot...right? I don't know how many hours most people work. I do love my work, but its taking over my eeeeentire life. The crazy thing is that i was talking to a friend last night, and we could totally understand how so many doctors are relationship-less, never married, and have no kids. I am entering this dangerous zone, where i love work so much, and it takes up so much of my life...that i get all i need out of it, its like i am on a separate planet, and its ok to not pursue anything else. Its wrong.
I used to be really good at answering phone calls, replyin text messages and emails, now i find if i manage to get to bed before midnight, i use that time in bed to read all the messages i got over the past few days, and reply to them, because there is no way i can keep up during the day :(
am starting to exercise a bit now, and am forcing myself regardless of how tired i am, to actually try and have a life outside of work....so i forced myself to watch sweeny todd at the cinema the other day (and oh boy it was AWFUL and i wish i had just slept) I get a maximum of about 6 hours sleep a night, is that good? is that even normal? I don't know any more!!!
My goodness, what a higgledy piggledy post. I lost the point i was making, i am sure there was a point, but reading back, im not sure what i am saying any more! confuddlement!

Suroor said...

Oh, I lost my marbles a long time ago!

Just a Girl said...

I am trying to regain control of my life in small steps. First step, stay on budget and track all finances. I'm not horrible with money but I am reading Suze Orman's "Woman and Money" to become better educated and make better choices.

I am also trying to clean 15-20/day but that is on top of my daily tasks of cooking, washing dishes and laundry for four people so I don't always get it done.

Actually, the more I think about it, the more I realize that things are just always rushed and crazy in my house. At least it feels that way to me. What I really need to learn is how to relax or meditate or something. Wish someone could teach me that. I can never seem to keep my mind quiet, always thinking about what needs to be done.

So to sum up, I have no useful advice for you on this subject. Hope all is well with you dear.

Jane

pixie said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who struggled with this after school. I'm still trying to find balance, Thanks for the tips!!

Anonymous said...

Bubble Gum. Lots and lots of bubble gum.

Tee said...

Really great tips, Aisha.

Too bad I don't live closer to you. I'd be your maid :D ... lol. I can't imagine having a stranger come in and touch my stuff. I'd be super uncomfortable.

Cleaning a little bit every day really helps, as you've discovered. If you keep up the maintenance then it doesn't look like a tornado blew through by the end of the week... This is something my husband taught me. He's a neat freak, where as I'm more naturally laid back about messes. My attitude used to be, "I'll do it later" - Well, of course he didn't like that, so I changed it for him. Now I'm a neat freak, too. But if you're neat all the time, things don't really get messed up :)

Be careful with the multi-tasking while driving. Most accidents are caused by being distracted - even being in conversation on the cell phone - head set or not - can contribute. I know it's tempting to get it done but it's not worth the risk.

I love Sarah McLaughlin, but she makes me so depressed. Just wanted to give you an alternative should you need it. Norah Jones - beautiful voice, relaxing, but the lyrics are not so sad.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=aBKcKQHZXks

Shawna said...

I try to keep an equal balance between in-house/domestic duties and my personal interests which are SURPRISE! not always cleaning and childcare lol. Right now I'm putting together an anthology on the Muslim American experience post 9/11. Please check it out at http://islamonmyside.com/. You might want to submit an essay insha'Allah. I also put together writing groups, so if you want to be in one of those, leave a message on my blog. :) These are fun things I can do from home or anywhere with internet, and they keep me connected to my writing degree, alhumdulillah, so I don't feel like I spent 25 years in school to be a housewife. A noble profession, to be sure, but not what I always wanted to be. And honestly, sometimes it just boring. I mean, how many episodes of Sesame Street can you watch, how many times can you wash the same counter, consult the same cookbooks, or put together the same puzzle before you break?

This is why I suggest a Yoga video for JANE if you can't make it to class. Sometimes you just need a break, and if you find a good video and learn even a handful of moves you can do on your own, you can refresh mind and body anywhere. Great way to recenter and good luck.

Great tips in this post. Thanks! :)

Aisha said...

Bee Amma, Long time no see! I'm sorry you are so strssed out :( I think that doctors doing residency, rotatoins have a whole different dimension of balance issues. The hours are crazy, like you described, the sleep deprivation adds up. Its tough. Hang in there!!! It will be worth it in the end insh'allah! :(

Suroor, lol :)

Jane! Long time no see!! So good to "see" you here :) I think the rule are different when you have kids regarding 20 min cleaning a day, etc. You have a lot on your plate.... I think the rule I said on "prioritize" would apply for you, dont' sweat a house that's not in tip top order.... there are other more important things to stay on top of suchas budget etc and some things have to be let go, we're not robots afterall.

Pixie!!! Long time no see too!! Glad you enjoyed the tips :)

Anon, lol, right. Thanks.

Tee, yeah, I have been trying to put things away after I use them and its amazingh ow much time samll steps save. Mopping, scrubbing etc will always take time but yeah little y little it helps. I love Norah Jones! But Sara isn't always sad like her song "Your love is better than ice cream" (how ironic!) and there's one song that always sticks in my head which goes "everytime I look at you the world just melts away, all my fears and insecurities vanish in your expression, you see me at my weakest and you take me as I am, when I fall you're always the softest place to land..." that's so sweeet! I do love Norah though, I need to buy one of her CDs, and you're right about driving while talking on the phone...

Shawna, thanks for pointing those out, I will look into posting on that site insh'allah. Good job for you to try hard to do these sorts of things. Ever consider writing a book or something?

Aisha said...
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Aisha said...
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hema said...

some great tips, thanks!
for those of us who can't afford a cleaner, i've found cleaning thigs up straight away eg doing the dishes or filing away paperwork is the best way of stopping things from mounting up.
also- talking to others, realising they are going through the same thing and sharing tips (like this!)
and prayer- especially taking time out for prayer durign the day can mak e all the differences because it puts things into perspective and refocuses your energy
exercise is brilliant, but never have anought time for it. im not sure i'd have anough time during lunch to work out, shower and eat lol

Jane said...

I may not speak up often, but I'm still here. I never left.

Shawna said...

aisha--i did write a book! my thesis. it's a series of short stories on the lebanese civil war. and i hope that the anthology will be in a bound addition as well as online. i also have about three novels in the work, but alas, my son and pregnancy sap my energy most days and i've been getting nowhere fast.

if mopping takes up a lot of your time, consider investing in a Scooba. We have a Roomba and a Scooba, and they are both too helpful. The Scooba is probably the greatest help although it requires more maintenance. It's still less than washing the floors yourself. It actually does a great job! And customer service is good too.

Shawna said...

oh. my thesis is still under construction alhtough all the stories are in place lol

Edward Ott said...

always make a list. it is the only way i get things done at all

Aisha said...

Hema great tips! I agree, cleaning up after yourself helps the area stay clean. Even if I just let that slip for a moment I end up having a pile of stuff mysteriously pile up.

Jane good to know, I didnt realize you were still here :) I will book mark your new spot so I can keep in touch with your going ons as well.

Shawna you are full of useful advice! Thanks to you I got a slow cooker, I've tried a few recipes but so far none I've really loved but I like the concept of it self cooking all day very much. So how od you like having a Roomba? I would like to have one in my family room. Are they pricey? I can google the info tough. And good luck on your writing. I've read a lot of places that people who ant to write have to dedicate at least one hour a day and make it a top priority. Could someone watch the little ones while you did that? Writing s half the work though, getting it published is a whole nother story and so much less enjoyable :( Good luck to you though, stories of the lebanese civil war sounds very intersting. I love to read Ha Jin's accounts of wars in China and I hope one day to read your story!

Edward, YES, good point. If it were not for lists I would forget to go to work. or home. :)

Shawna said...

We got our Roomba on the w00t (something like that), so it was a discount price. I think they range between 100 and 250 depending on model. We got the smaller household one and it's very useful. The only thing is, if you have a throw rug on top of carpet, it can have some issues (like getting stuck between wall and rug), but that seems to really depend on the charge of the battery and the height of the carpet. :)

As you get used to slow cooking I'm sure you'll tweak recipes to suit your own tastes. I have all kinds of "edits" in my cookbook now, and some recipes I've written for myself like chili. I'll be publishing some soon on my blog, insha'Allah. Recipe writing seems to be the only other writing I do aside from blogging lol. But I'm really hoping to find some childcare during the day. My husband is working approx. five jobs right now between fulltime, keeping up with http://www.sujood.com/, and the contract work he has picked up, but alhumdulillah we don't expect this to go on for too much longer.

I love your blog!! Hope you don't mind me being so chatty. I can't take my toddler out anymore bc he's just too difficult, so I have nothing else to do but comment on blogs when he's watching Sesame Street (he requires that I sit with him lol).

Brujita said...

Great advices. I so agree with you regarding the cleaner. I have one just 4 fours a week, and believe me just that is so wornderful!!! she has been to her country for 4 months and will be returning end of this month, i can't wait for her to come back lol, I am a mess with the house.

pilgrimchick said...

I think these are very simple, but fabulous ways to improve the quality of life. I am entirely in agreement on the e-mails and making time off exactly what that phrase means.

Aisha said...

Shawna, thanks for the tip on the Roomba and the Slow Cooker. I have yet to find the Ultimate Slow Cooker in my library, i may need to do an inter-library loan to acquire that. I'm glad you like my blog :) Its great to share interesting discourse with you! :)

Brujita, I'm glad these tips were useful. I hope your cleaning help comes back soon!

Pilgrim Chick, thanks :) Yeah, every ltitle bit helps I find.

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