31 days later… [NYR Trimonthly Check-in]

It’s been a very trying month.

Well really, the last few months have been tough, mainly because I’ve yet to establish a set schedule. My body has no idea what a “normal week” is supposed to feel like, and at this point I’m not sure one even exists.

Since the new year began, I have made it a goal to establish a somewhat balanced schedule to manage the diverse collection of daily and weekly responsibilities. So over the past 31 days, I have experimented and analyzed different variations and methods, recording the quantity (e.g. number of goals/items I want to accomplish) and quality (e.g. whether I was able to accomplish something fully/successfully, or how close I came) of my activities.

The first week, I recorded the “baseline” for all my weekly activities. Here’s what I found:

  • Average time spent working in the office: 40 hours
  • Average time spent commuting (weekdays and weekends): 14 hours
  • Average time spent dancing, dance-related work or research (e.g.  work/study, anatomical analyses), stretching, other physical activity: 25 hours
  • Average time spent blogging (posting, connecting, editing pictures, writing, baking/cooking, drafting, SEO): 35 hours
  • Average time spent sleeping: 6.5/night x 7 = 45.5 hours
  • Average time spent in church, teaching Sunday school, preparing lessons: 6 hours

Total: 165.5

Total number of hours in a 7-day week? 168.

That’s right. Every week I have about 2.5 hours of “free time” to grocery shop, do laundry, clean, fill up at the gas station. Divided by 7 days, I have a little over 20 minutes to do these tasks each day. This hard truth really put things in perspective, and I spent the subsequent weeks varying the quantity levels of one activity, while again, recording the quality of my performance.

And after 31 days, I seem to have drained myself of most physical and emotional energy – with still nothing (tangible) to show for it. I find myself frustrated as ever. Frustrated that quality is often sacrificed for quantity. Frustrated that I live my life in 2-3 hour increments, always focusing on how much I can get done during that time period, and feeling ashamed when I barely get through a single item. Frustrated that I have to take breaks from class on some nights, because my hip is still in as much pain as ever. Above all else, I’m frustrated by the fact that as a “healthy living blogger,” my work does little to facilitate and reinforce the fundamental tenets of a truly wholesome, and vibrant life of my own.

I feel like I’m falling behind in everything, and it’s absolutely terrifying.

Part-time bloggers (similar to myself) are often placed in a unique situation. On one hand, we’re forced to balance the expectations and responsibilities of a full-time job with the constant pressures and expectations of maintaining an online presence. Since an immense amount of planning is involved on a daily basis, the effects of something going wrong seems to be compounded exponentially, say, when you find out your buffered tweets (that you gave up a much-needed half-hour of sleep for) didn’t post as scheduled. You feel like you’re caught in an endless game of “catch-up,” just barely rounding the bend while others are racing ahead. You feel guilty for missing a day (or even a week) of posts, and before long you realize how much you resent something that once gave you so much joy.

I don’t mean to imply that I resent blogging (all the time). In fact, I think it’s only natural to feel some level of stress, an innate urgency to work and strive towards producing great content and connecting with others across the community. The issue for me is that most days, this stress is rolled into the fiery mass of work deadlines, rush hour commutes (aka battles), chronic physical pain, hopeless exhaustion, sleep deprivation, a poorly maintained diet, and financial realities. [Seeing the 2.5 hours mentioned above actually brought tears to my eyes - I had been conservative in my average calculations, there are weeks when the resulting figure would be in the negative.] Every night I notice the dark lines under my eyes getting deeper and deeper, and I expect to break down eventually.

And break down I did. About halfway through last week, I knew I had to pull away from as many activities as possible, and take a step back. On the upside, I feel more rested than I have in a long time, but this is certainly not a long-term possibility. So the question is, “What now?” What am I going to do now that I’ve monitored, analyzed, and experimented with every facet of my life?

I don’t have a clue. But instead of chalking up this post as an appreciation of life’s great unknowns, I’m going to keep trying to figure it out. Until then, I am adding these 5 “I Will..” statements to my 2014 New Years Resolutions (NYRs):

  • I will not hold perfection a qualification for healthy living/blogging.
  • I will not place value on the number of followers I have, but will focus on building quality (in-person and virtual) relationships instead.
  • I will not place value on meaningless comments and artificial ego-boosts, nor compare myself to the external actions of others. (Translation: I will not try to “out-do” that mom of 5 kids who works full-time, runs a DIY etsy shop, and manages to post everyday.)
  • I will cut back on the amount of “noise” for all social media accounts, and will aim for a target number of quality blog posts instead.
  • I am also going to take breaks when my body says so, and will not feel guilty if I don’t dance for 2-3 days.

As for the rest of my NYRs, I’ll keep working towards them everyday. Three months in, nine more to go!

Tell Me: How far have you gotten with your New Years Resolutions?