Managing the Work-Life Limbo

Hi all! I’m guest posting today at Jennie Bennett’s blog, a book, a girl a journey, and I’d love for you to join me there. Check out Jennie’s blog, too. Pretty awesome stuff!

So, my guest post will give you some tips on the S.M.A.R.T. way to achieve any reasonable goals you set for yourself. It’s all about thinking it through and tracking your progress. Nothing unmeasured is ever accomplished.

Before you go anywhere, you’ve got to read this guest post by Jess Witkins, author of the blog Jess Witkins’ Happiness Project!

Jess Witkins claims the title Perseverance Expert.  She grew up in a small Wisconsin town as the much younger youngest sibling of four, she’s witnessed the paranormal, jumped out of a plane, worked in retail, traveled to exotic locations like Italy, Ireland, and Shipshewana, Indiana, and she’s eaten bologna and lived to tell about it!  She deals with it all and writes about it!  Come along on her midwest adventures; Witkins promises to keep it honest and entertaining. 

Take it away, Jess!

Back in the days of elementary school, there was one day out of the year the whole school would take a field trip to the roller skating rink.  The rink was owned by one of the teachers and all of us kids were invited in for a day of strobe lights, laser beams and bruises we didn’t have before.  I loved it.  It was a lot of fun, skating in a circle…  There were always a few signature dances that we did every year.  The most popular was skating to The Ghostbusters Theme Song!  “When there’s somethin’ strange, in your neighborhood, who ya gonna call…GHOSTBUSTERS!”  But I digress, another popular dance was the limbo contest.  I never learned to limbo.  I’m simply too uncoordinated to squat down in roller skates and bend backwards to glide under a pole without falling on my you know what!  I wonder if this was all some mystic foreshadowing into my future where I would incessantly fail at limbo of any kind. 

 Of course, now I’m talking about the work-life limbo, the balance of time spent at work and that other place, oh yah, your home.  It isn’t a question of want.  I want to be better balanced, but I haven’t figured out how.  Maybe if I do that trick where you roll onto the heel of the skate with one leg extended in front of you and you trace your fingertips on the floor behind you, you just…nevermind, it’s hopeless.

 That’s how I felt earlier this week.  My position at work is changing soon, and with any change it takes time to learn.  For those of you that don’t know me, my lifelong dream is to become a writer.  I started up my blog as a way to maintain a writing schedule and have found this wonderful blogging community of inspiring writers and readers full of support, advice, and virtual wine bottles!  But I know for all of us, the momentum forward doesn’t happen in the timeframe we always want it to. 

 My biggest barrier to my writing is my other job, the real one.  The job that consistently takes 50+ hours of my time, always focuses on the next big sale, always busy networking, always solving other people’s problems.  I do like my job.  In this economy I am ever thankful to have a job, and I like the people I work with, I like my team, I like helping customers.  But I still wish I had more time outside of work to write.  My constant battle has been both trying to make writing more of a priority as well as take notice of the accomplishments I have made since November when I started it up again.

 The answer is really so simple I feel stupid for not thinking of it earlier.  I have a schedule for work.  I adhere to certain hours, certain tasks and commitments, so why don’t I make a schedule for writing?  I work in sales, so it’s a people position.  It’s easy to get caught up in chatting to your coworkers about your favorite dish to eat at the new Asian restaurant in town, but I know I have sales goals to make and events to plan.  Why wasn’t I managing my time for writing like I do in sales?  Cut down my time spent on social media (just a little, it won’t hurt) and focus my energy on where it should be in the beginning:  the writing, getting the novel done.  So, I bought a brand new planner (cause the work one is already too full) and started scheduling my time of when I’ll write my book, when I’ll write my blog, when I can catch up reading blogs, use twitter, etc.  And since it’s in a planner, I don’t feel bad about saying no to other commitments that come up because I’ve scheduled time for my big goal, my writing.

 It’s not enough to plan it, you have to follow through.  And in sales, there’s usually a success story or learning opportunity in there, so that’s how I created the second half of my plan.  I started keeping a gratitude journal a while back to channel some positive thinking into my life.  Now, I’ve added a second list of things below that.  It’s my “eye opening moments” list, for things I learn about the writing and publishing industries.  I track my progress, like attending a writing conference last April, and I record new things I learn, like plotting tips.  It’s a reminder to me that while I may not be able to skate as fast as the other kids, I’m still in the rink, and there are strobe lights!  I’m all for a little funky.

 So that’s what I’m working on this month.  You can see the rest of my Life List on my blog.  Stop by!  

In the meantime, what are you working on?  What have you learned along your journey?  What have you celebrated?  What’s your favorite kind of wine?  😉

Now that you’ve shown some love and read Jess’ post, go on over to the Life List Club page and see what we’re doing in this community of support and friendship. Do you have a life list?


15 thoughts on “Managing the Work-Life Limbo

  1. Pingback: Life List Club | Regimented Creativity

  2. This is a struggle I share, and I love your approach! I have been great at getting up at 4-5 am to write for a few hours before work 3-4 times a week, and then devote at least a 1/2 day on the weekends to writing. My issue has been that because of the 50+ hour work thing we share, what I let go to do that was my fitness initiatives, and I’m now trying to get just as committed and scheduled to exercise. Managing 2 priorities like that outside of the job and still being a “present” girlfriend, family member, and friend is going to be tough, and I think your idea of “scheduling” time just might help. I love my electronic calendar where I can see everything at once, and am going to start doing this too!

    • I’m glad you were able to take something useful away from this. We all have our time issues and we do need others ideas and support to plough through them. thanks for coming by!

  3. @Catie, Sonia, Gene and Jennie Time management is one of the toughest organizational tools to stick with consistently. Life tends to get in the way. How do you tell your sweet little boy, “Sorry, I can’t feed you know, Mommy’s working?” or you significant other, “Intimacy? What’s that?”

    Thanks all for stopping by!

  4. Thank you, Marcia, for hosting Jess.

    Jess, what a good topic. Right now, I’m having a lot of trouble with time management. Your suggestions sound good, and I’m going to try them. It can’t hurt. ::grins::

    • It’s something I contemplated doing for a long time and kept backing out saying, I don’t need it. But unfortunately that led to a lot of writing NOT happening when it could have, and SHOULD have. I’m hoping tracking my aha moments and scheduling some writing time will hold me more accountable to my own results. *crosses fingers* Hope it helps you too!

  5. Ah…balancing everything. It can be quite a challenge. I’ve finally learned the value of making a schedule and sticking to it. I’m still working on sticking to it consistently though. I need to learn to plan to deal with the unexpected instead of letting it roll me. 😀

    • It is a challenge. I think the first step is accepting that everything you want to get done and everything you try your best to balance, simply will not be perfect. Because no one is. And that’s ok! The important thing is to prioritize some achievable steps forward (in any goal), and know you may not move as fast as you want to, but you’re still making progress.

  6. Pingback: Life is Worth Loving by Jennie Bennett | Sonia G Medeiros

  7. Great ideas Jess! I have a planner but am horrible at remembering to use it so everything ends up listed on post-its scattered over my desk top. You’ve inspired me to improve on this and I’ll add that on to my own Life List.

    By the way, I was never all that good at skating either, but I can limbo on solid ground 🙂

    Excellent Post!

    • Sure just rub it in that you can limbo, Gene. Marcia, we are SO not hosting a limbo party over at #LifeListClub.

  8. This is so good! Except for me it’s managing a mom/writing limbo. I try to be consistent about the hours I write but with kids that is constantly changing. Still, it’s always good to have a plan!

    • You and I are more alike than you think, Jennie. Both of us work schedules that are under the rule of people other than ourselves, we work long hours, we’re exhausted when we’re done (and you might be more sticky), but we do it because we love it. It’s not always an option to step away and write when you’re raising kids. Something I did when I was on the go all the time was jot down reminders to myself for stories on any old paper I could find. That way when I had time to sit down, I had a pool of ideas to work on and didn’t feel like I’d forgotten all those ideas I had. Hope that helps!

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