This entry may be one of my last for a little while, as lately I feel my spare time is very limited. Life has been busy. Chris will be undergoing his cancer treatment in a matter of days. A lot of our time and energy has been focused on making sure we’re ready and it’s been very hard to keep up. I have been sleeping around 3-5 hours a night, and still trying to keep up with my running, but even that has fallen short. This past weekend I missed my weekend long run, and it was the first time that had ever happened in YEARS unless I was on vacation.
I decided to make an assessment of my life. I’m stressed out, losing sleep, stretched paper thin. Obviously certain things need to be set aside because I feel like things are piling up. I also think it’s important to have time to relax, time for “me” even if it’s only 20 minutes. I’m trying to see where I can efficiently maximize my time, and I am starting to adopt some new methods to make my life a little less stressful.
Food prep is a major part of my life, and I realized that I can cut corners to make things easier and more efficient. My friend Teresa advised me of one way to cut corners with food prep, and it works! Whenever I buy fresh produce now, before even putting it away I wash, cut and store everything so it’s ready to grab when needed. In the past I used to just prep as I went along, and I think a lot of things went to waste because I wasn’t aware I even had certain items. Baking is another thing I’m doing in bulk, maybe make a batch of quinoa pancakes that will last for the week and then freeze another batch. Sometimes I will make a large batch of cubed, baked tofu that I store in Tupperware; it’s perfect to just grab a handful and throw into any recipe rather than making it one serving at a time. Make menus so meals can be efficiently planned and I don’t overstock or overbuy on groceries. I’ve been making lists, keeping track of what I need and don’t need so I don’t waste time or money on extra groceries (I can’t tell you how many times I have bought salsa only to find 3 jars in the fridge already). I found this week has been much smoother just adopting a few tricks and committing a couple hours on a weekend day so less time is wasted during the week.
Another point of major stress for me is my daily commute. I get very frazzled, feel like it’s the biggest waste of time in my life, and get extremely aggravated some mornings by the time I waste in traffic. If I commuted by train or bus I could catch up on reading, social media, hell, even pay bills (smartphones are a wonderful thing)! But public transit would quadruple my commute time, it’s just not worth it. I have an English degree, and I am a huge reader. The books I currently own I fear that I won’t be able to finish them in my lifetime. It’s very hard to find time to simply sit and read, unless I am on a lunch break. The simple solution, which I never, ever tried in my life, was listening to audiobooks. Amazing, absolutely amazing. I actually look FORWARD to my commute so I can “catch up on reading”. If I get stuck in traffic, I get a few extra minutes of “reading” and feel completely at ease, not stressed in the least. I knew of others who listened to audiobooks and never understood it until I realized that this was a BRILLIANT way to fill time that is spent behind the wheel, doing housework or cooking. I signed up for an Audible account, but there is also a free Audiobooks app that has tons of free classics I can listen to that I have been meaning to get to for years. FINALLY I can read Pride and Prejudice, The Count of Monte Cristo, or Huck Finn (to name a few) and do it without feeling like time is being wasted.
I’m also learning to let things go; when bemoaning my concerns to my friend Stephanie she simply advised to not sweat the small stuff. Don’t worry about cleaning all the time. Things can sit and wait. My health and well-being are far more important. If my running is taking over my life, scale it back. Chris echoed the same sentiments. He said I tend to try to take on way too much when some things aren’t of immediate importance. It’s OK to let things sit, the world won’t end if the filing doesn’t get done, the steps aren’t vacuumed. It’s not like royalty is coming over…I need to learn to let things go once in a while to save my sanity. Surprisingly, it worked.
Other things in my life, unfortunately, may need to be set aside for now. My blog and Twitter have to take a backseat for a while. I feel like they can be incredibly time consuming; I simply cannot commit to these things with 100% effort and it’s been very difficult to make a priority. I never know how other bloggers do it, but I definitely can’t keep up with it as much as I’d like. My running is, to me, quite therapeutic, and as long as I am able to run and not lack in other important areas, such as sleep, I will continue to do so. If I have to cut my mileage, I will, it will all just depend on other variables.
So basically, if my blog seems lacking, there’s a reason. If I don’t send any Tweets for a while, there’s a reason. I need to put the needs of my husband, household and SELF before these things, and I gladly would sacrifice everything I have to ensure he has a long and healthy life. But I do feel that it’s important for everyone to allow themselves a little time to do the things they enjoy, otherwise life just crushes you from all sides. You need time for YOU whether you realize it or not.
I feel more relaxed this week. A little more rested. Simply by cutting some things down a little, working more efficiently in other things, and learning how to relax during even the most stressful times. All of these things will make me a much more capable support to my husband, who needs me more than ever right now. I feel like I am on a better track to a more balanced life, and things can only go up from here.
How do you efficiently use your time in order to make your life run more smoothly? Any tricks or tips you can suggest?