Have you ever run into someone who claims to need very little sleep and felt sort of guilty for admitting that you are a grump when you don’t sleep seven or eight hours? Some people think of needing a good night’s sleep as a character flaw. Well, whatever. According to this recent article from the Wall Street Journal, only 1-3% of the population are actually “short sleepers.” Everybody else is just sleep deprived and kidding themselves.
This reminds me of the do-it-all, Supermom fallacy. You see this woman who runs on four hours of sleep and think, wow, if only I could run on four hours of sleep I’d be so much more productive. But actually you probably wouldn’t be, because, like the person you know who only gets four hours of sleep, you’d just be sleep deprived. Likewise, you see your friends doing fantastic things and wonder why you can’t be all that and a bag of chips too. Wow, you think, if only I could play the violin professionally and take great pictures and sew all my kids’ clothes from scratch and clean my floors with a toothbrush every morning. What you don’t see is that these people don’t do everything you do. Everyone has their own balance.
Part of the whole “own it” idea is recognizing what YOU need to be in balance. For short sleepers, staying in bed for seven hours would be a waste of time. For me, being up until midnight is a waste of time. If I spend too much time on the computer or only do housework and gardening all day and don’t recharge by reading a book, I am not in balance. But I know people who recharge by gardening and cleaning (Believe it! I had a mom tell me one time that she finds vacuuming to be a tremendous stress relief. It takes all kinds.) Those things don’t recharge me so I don’t try to recharge that way. What feels like a good balance between mental/intellectual work and physical/manual work to me may seem out of balance to you and vice versa. That’s OK. Your balance and my balance don’t need to be the same.
Once you find your balance, it can be hard to own it. I have a hard time explaining to people why I do what I do. Yes, my house would be cleaner if I didn’t read and write so much. Yes, I’d have more time to do service projects if my kids went away to school. Yes, if I didn’t want to work on the second draft of my novel I’d watch more TV. I’m really trying to work on owning my calling and my balance in how I choose to spend my time. As reader Sheila pointed out in the comments Monday, when you own what works for you and your family, it’s easier to pull together a schedule and organized life that’s in line with your values and priorities.
Do you struggle to find balance in how you spend your time? How do you find your balance?