Finding the Balance, Part Deux: Warning Signs and How to Gain Control Again

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Last July I addressed every writer’s favorite topic: Balance. Back then I described life as I knew it as chaotic. Has it changed? No, not really. But instead of out-of-control chaos these days I find myself in the realm of calm, otherwise known as contained chaos – composed and unflappable. *knocks on head wood*
Last year I addressed my personal struggle with balance and shared the plan I’d created to get everything under control. I’m sure it’s needless to say, but that plan didn’t quite pan out like I’d hoped. And that’s okay. Sometimes it takes several failures before you finally realize the warning signs, what’s needed to gain back control, and how to maintain that new feeling of I’m almighty and can do anything.

Warning Signs

Sometimes we find ourselves so knee deep in life, work, projects, reading, etc. that we miss the forest for the trees. We miss the warning signs that the road we’re on is going straight to Chaosville and our vehicle is slowly but sure gaining speed.
You might need a U-turn if:

  • Someone mentions a popular TV series such as Touch, Game of Thrones, True Blood, House, M.D.,The Vampire Diaries, and Modern Family and you say, “Huh? Never heard of it.”
  • Your to-do list has grown exponentially over the last six to eight months, everything piling on top of each other, and you’ve yet to delete one or two items to lighten the load.
  • Your coworkers, friends, husband or kids can count on more than two hands the number of times you’ve said, “Oh my God, I’m soooo busy,” or “It just doesn’t stop!” or “Kill me now!”
  • You spend at least two hours every day/night writing a blog post, or with your Tweeps, or commenting on others’ blog posts. Then you’re upset because your writing time is almost nonexistent afterwards.
  • You curse yourself nearly every day because in order to be a good writer you have to be a reader first…and the finishing time for a novel lately is nearing the one month mark.
  • The last time you and your pillow made sweet, passionate snoozies you were lucky if it lasted five hours (and you can’t remember a time where you got at least 8 hours of sleep).

Any of these sound familiar to you? If more than two or three of these do then it’s time to slam on the brakes and jerk the wheel to the left. Get the hell out of dodge and don’t look back…not anytime soon at least. *smile*

Gaining Control

Once you realize you have uncontrollable chaos on your hands, it’s time to stop the time suck, evaluate, plan, re-apply (‘baby steps’) and re-apply again (in ‘time out’):

  • Stop the time suck: Break from one of your biggest time sucks (other than plotting/writing/editing, reading and education). Break from it for at least a month. Mine was blogging and social media in general.
  • Evaluate: After a week or so without the time suck, stop and evaluate how much time you now have on your hands. You’ll probably start to feel as though you have a bit too much time. *cheers* You work, come home and cook/clean, spend an hour or two on the WIP and/or other special project and/or watch a movie/TV show, and still have time to read for about thirty minutes before it’s time for bed. AND you and your pillow are once again well-acquainted!
  • Plan: Now that you’ve been unstressed by time (hopefully), you can realistically plan your time. By having so much time when you’re not at the day job, and not stressing yourself out to get this done, get that done, do this, do that, you can actually sit back and realize 1-2 hours on the WIP is enough per day or every other day. That a TV series is awesome and well worth an hour a week. That movies are a delicious break from life in general. That doing absolutely nothing for a while feels absolutely amazing and should be done at least twice a week. And so on and so forth until you begin to think, once again, that you truly can balance all of it.
  • Re-Apply: Ease back in to your previous time suck with baby steps. The last week or two of your break, ease yourself into the former time suck by maybe tweeting two-three times and commenting on blogs maybe 2-3 times a week.
  • Re-Apply: Begin anew with your previous time suck by disciplining yourself like a three-year-old in time out. Buy a timer, set it to 20 or 30 minutes, and stick to it! Spend that time visiting other blogs, chatting on twitter, and contributing to your next blog post. Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s okay to write your posts and/or research them a little a time. Plan ahead to ease the pain.

In the end, you’ll feel more relaxed, more like yourself, more free than you had before, and more like the super-being you are.
Do you have a U-turn ahead in your future? What were your warning signs? Are you back on the road after a recent U-turn? How did you gain control of the chaos?

2 thoughts on “Finding the Balance, Part Deux: Warning Signs and How to Gain Control Again

  1. Hi Shain! Good for you for taking the first step and getting a timer. It really does make a difference, I promise. 😉 Thank you and I'm so glad you found the post helpful.

    Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. Let me know how it goes after this weekend. 🙂

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