The Balancing Act

We all juggle. We all have responsibilities. No matter what they are and while sometimes I wonder why I didn´t decide I wanted to take writing seriously when I had less on my plate, I do find time to write now. We all do. More or less but we still do. We also find the time to read. We go through the balancing act.

My time is my commute. However, my commute does take a toll on me. The train gets late, cancelled. I also have to take the bus to the to the train so I rush between the bus and the train. I run. I curse. I get annoyed. I don´t always find the silver lining. So this week I am renting a car to see how long it would actually take me to drive to work instead of taking public transportation, to see if I can gain time. According to my friend Google Map which includes Traffic estimation, I could gain 30 to 45 minutes each way. Crazy.

My day currently looks like this:

  • 5am: Wake up
  • 5am-5.30am: work out in front of Friends (this gets me going and makes me laugh – always a plus)
  • 5.30-6.42: get ready (breakfast, shower, coffee, get snacks, kindle, ipod, netbook ready) and leave the house
  • 6.42am: walk to bus station (or be driven by hubby – if he´s not already gone working out)
  • 6.52am: Bus
  • 7.06am: Train (aka writing + reading time)
  • 7.47am: Metro
  • 8.00am: At my desk at work
  • 5.30pm or 6pm (sometimes later): leave office – train – bus (writing and reading in the train again)
  • Get home between 6.45pm and 7.45pm and then dinner, time with hubby and sleep…

Yes, it is busy but on most days, the train time gets me about 1 hour of writing/revising or undivided reading time. Soon, I may decide that driving does get me more time at home, aka more time with the hubby…I can rearrange my schedule to write more in the morning before leaving, or during my lunch break or I could write in bed.

But I know that I will find the time to write because, really, I just don´t see myself not writing or revising…Writing/Revising/Reading is part of my balancing act. It´s part of who I am.

How do you balance everything? Anybody else tried to write in bed?

34 Comments

  1. kford2007 says:

    You are a busy little beaver. Right now, I’m out of a job so I have the luxury of being able to write all day, and write all day I do…from around 6:30 in the a.m until late at night. In between I’ll read, spend time with hubby and kids but I’m pretty much writing or doing something related to writing.

    Keep up the good work and find the time when you can. I feel so empty if I don’t write in a single day.

    • Elodie Nowodazkij says:

      I’m very impressed by the dedication you show! Sometimes, when one has more time, it can be difficult to buckle up and write! So congrats on using your time well! 😀 I also feel quite empty if I don’t write or just not as fulfilled…:D

  2. For a long time, during my college career, my payingwork included sitting and waiting for phones to ring on late nights. Like the undergraduate tool I was, I filled this time with Facebook wanderings, solitaire marathons, and watching episodes of Lost on my laptop. Apart from that last one, the rest were complete wastes of time.

    And now that I’m out of that terrible situation and working full time, having my own commute eat up an hour or two of every day and having about 4 hours of non-work/eat/sleep time, I’ve decided to take writing seriously. The logic is absolutely mind-boggling and more than a little bit noose-tying.

    But after realizing a lot of hopeful writers out there are people who work from home or don’t have a standard 9-5 day job at all, and feeling insanely jealous for the extra time they have, I realized the daily grind actually makes the writing make -more- sense. Writing and reading, at its heart, is escapism. If life is easy and, let’s face it, dull, then what’s to escape? Why bother writing if life is simple? It’s the complicated crappy-ass schedule that has us pulling out our hair that makes picking up a book or creating one so worthwhile.

    To put it another way, when it’s cold out in the winter, you don’t have much of an urge to go swimming. But when it’s blistering hot out in the summer, nothing feels better than leaping into the nearest body of water for some relief. Writing and reading is our relief from the daily grind.

    So happy swimming. 🙂

    • Elodie Nowodazkij says:

      Oh Ian! How I understand you 😀 And you’re right the daily grind does make sense and I think also pushes us to really sit down. Plus the swimming does feel nice 😀

  3. I know what you mean about your commute being your time–I feel that way as well. Lately I’ve had to shift my day an hour earlier at work, which makes my morning time less effective as I nod off over my book, but in general I find it really helps me start my day–getting out of the house is hard, but I can reward myself by sitting down and reading something I like. And on the ride home, my reading time helps me to let go of any lingering frustrations or stress from the work day, at least long enough to eat dinner with my husband. There are plenty of days I come out of work anxious or angry or whatever, and I’m glad I’m not walking in my door in the same mood. Balance in general has been tricky lately, as I’ve been taking a writing class online so I have deadlines for that, and my regular work of lesson planning and grading, and we’re back in full social swing hosting Mad Men parties every Sunday night, AND my husband and I are trying to do the Couch to 5K running program at the gym. When it all works, I feel like I’m the greatest and I’ve got everything where I want it–but honestly, more often I wind up staying up till midnight on a work night meeting a deadline for my writing class, or skipping the gym because I’m just too exhausted. I feel like a LOT of the folks whose blogs I read have been talking about balance since the beginning of the year…I think it’s the big question of our time 🙂

    • Elodie Nowodazkij says:

      Wow, I am quite impressed with your schedule…It does seem we all have a lot on our plate, no matter how large or small the plate is, it still requres discipline to go through the actual act of writing. When it comes to reading, I agree with you that it does help to get rid of those anxious/stress feelings that may linger otherwise. I have now taken the car for 2 days and this is the one thing I miss…the special reading time. But, so far, it helped me gain 1 hour and not rushing for the bus in the morning feels quite nice 😀

  4. I can relate to the concept of a balancing act. I’m a sophomore in college, and yet 4 months ago I decided to starting writing a memoir. It seems like quite a huge feat, and it is, but I know that all writers understandc the pure NEED to just write. One morning it just hit me, and from then on I’ve known that I want to share my story and struggles with the world. 🙂 Good luck with your writing endeavors. 🙂

    • Elodie Nowodazkij says:

      I think it is indeed a need or it becomes one quite fast. I need to write, it makes me feel good to let the creativity flow. Good luck in writing your memoir!

  5. Kitty says:

    Writing in bed never works out for me but that’s probably because there’s a tv in our bedroom and if I’m in front of a tv, I have a nagging need to turn it on! I’m finally getting better about a writing schedule, but it usually involves waiting til my kids are in bed and they are getting older so that might not be until 9 or 10 at night sometimes. So if I get too tired – my writing time is forfeit. 😦 I’m still looking for the perfect system!

    • Elodie Nowodazkij says:

      I am not quite sure there’s a perfect system out there 😀 If you find the magic key, please let me know 😀 Writing with kids around must also be quite difficult and I admire you waiting for them to be in bed before taking the pen/computer to write! My hubby goes to bed quite early so I can write quite early as well. I tried the writing in bed thing yesterday and it worked quite well for me 😀

  6. Eve says:

    Holy wow Batman that is a commute. Balancing is hard, sadly I’ve found it even harder to write/read now that I have tons of free time. I did better when I had a set schedule and only so much allotted time but I’ve been getting better at working on it. Because I’m like you and I can’t imagine not reading and writing. Hope the car works out.

    • Elodie Nowodazkij says:

      Thanks Eve 😀 It’s the second day I am taking the car and so far so good. Even if there’s quite a bit of traffic, I still “gained” about an hour yesterday. Plus I felt less exhausted coming home than I usually do. More productive and happier because feeling more in control of my time? Hope your writing/reading schedule works out 😀

  7. Kelley Lynn says:

    I don’t write in bed. Read, most definitley. 🙂

    I get a decent amount of writing or critiquing done over my lunch hour. When I’m traveling for work I can get even more done. Gotta squeeze it in where we can!

    You are one busy girl! 🙂

    • Elodie Nowodazkij says:

      I also read in bed, with a cup of tea 😀 I tried writing yesterday and I’m happy to report it worked quite well for me 😀 It seems we’re all quite busy and I’m always amazed to see how much we’re willing to do to get our writing sessions in the day!

  8. Jaime says:

    Oh wow! I can’t even imagine how long your day must feel. Good that you’re able to work in some reading and writing time in that crazy schedule 🙂 I hope that you’re able to add some time to your day by driving.

    • Elodie Nowodazkij says:

      Thanks Jaime 😀 I drove to work yesterday and it “saved” me an hour. But more importantly, I felt somewhat in control of my time, even if there was traffic, I sang on top of my lungs and felt quite nice when I got home…I even managed to write in bed (the revision of my WiP is moving along, yay!). We’ll see how the entire week will turn out and while I will not get a car no matter what before June or July, it is still nice to try out different options…

  9. Robin Moran says:

    I’ve tried writing in bed before… the only problem is that it’s so damn comfy and I end up falling asleep. When term starts I usually try to write after work in the afternoon. In the mornings I don’t have too much time. I get up at 6, get ready, do chores, and read a bit while I eat brekkie and generally just wake up. There’s no opportunity to read or write when I travel to work. It’s quite close to my flat so I usually walk there and back.

    • Elodie Nowodazkij says:

      😀 I can also imagine falling asleep on my netbook and waking up to see it destroyed on the floor – it’d be a nightmare! I did write in bed yesterday though and it worked out quite nice as long as it is not the last thing I do (I read a bit before sleeping as well, without a book I just don’t sleep as well :D)

  10. Wow, that sounds exhausting! 😦

    Driving will save you some time, but, will you actually use that time to read or write? And you’ll actually be losing time, as you can’t read/write while you’re driving 😉

    I envy people who commute to work by train. I’d love to do that and spend the whole time reading or writing. I use to do it years ago and LOVED it 🙂

    Good luck xx

    • Elodie Nowodazkij says:

      It is quite exhausting and what I find the most tiring is that connection between the bus and the train. If the bus is just a minute late or if light doesn’t turn green soon enough for pedestrians then I miss my first train.

      If I could walk to the train station, I probably wouldn’t even bother with trying out a car because as you mention, I might lose in writing/reading time…However, (and it’s only been one day so no conclusions on the exercise yet :D), yestersday I felt good driving. I gained about an hour during the day and I felt more relaxed. I wrote in bed, read during my lunch break 😀

      I guess I’ll wait and see how the rest of the week goes 😀

  11. moosenoose says:

    Wow you are dedicated. I honestly don’t think I could get up at 5am in order to workout! I love my bed too much. I am lucky that I am only a 7-10 min drive from work. In fact, I decided to live where I do simply because I hate commuting. Well actually I hate my job, so spending at least an hour a day travelling because of it would make me want to hurt people!

    • Elodie Nowodazkij says:

      Oh I love love love my bed…:D Getting up is not that easy but I also love the feeling I have after getting my workout in plus it helps to lower my stress levels… We live in the middle between my job and my husband’s…it’s sort of a compromise 😀 The good thing is that I really enjoy my day job 😀 I’m glad you found a way to be so close in order to keep your anger under control, lol 😀

  12. Meredith says:

    I’m tired just reading about that. 😉 But I guess the upside is that you get a dedicated 2 hours or so a day to write. As my daughter gets older (and her naps diminish), I’m finding it difficult to stick to a writing routine. I really need to reassess here shortly.

    It just seems like, no matter the situation, we’re always going to think there’s not enough time in the day. And, FWIW, I used to do a driving commute. At least an hour each way. It was HELL. I wished I’d had a train as an option. 😉

    • Elodie Nowodazkij says:

      😀 Finding time while raising children must also be very very difficult! I am always impressed by parents who write! 😀 But you’re right no matter what the situation is we always seem to not have enough time in a day. We really need to make sure that we treasure the little moments throughout 😀 I drove yesterday and it took me about 45 minutes each way. For some reason, I also felt more independent which was nice and I managed to write in bed 😀 I think if it was only the train and not the bus, I wouldn’t even bother to rent a car to try it out as I do enjoy my reading time 😀

  13. Colin says:

    As Vikki mentioned, I wonder if the advantage of driving (assuming it is an advantage) will actually mean you get less writing done? You could certainly still get in “reading” time using audio books, and you may be able to do some writing/plotting in your head, but you will lose the opportunity to get out the netbook and write. I wonder if the time saving would be worth it? And would you still be commutinggirl? 🙂

    All of us that have other responsibilities (work, family, etc.) have to balance. Even successful writers need to find time for things other than writing (including book promotional activities), so this isn’t a problem that ever goes away. I guess now’s a good time to figure out how to deal with it.

    • Elodie Nowodazkij says:

      I will still be Commutinggirl, no matter what mean of transportation I use 😀 I am currently trying it out, the train time is really nice for the reading/writing time I get but the schedule it puts me on when it comes to taking the bus in the morning brings on a lot of stress in the long run. When the bus is only a minute late, I can miss my connection and while I should try to relax and see the positive side (aka reading) it sometimes tires me more than anything else. We’ll see if driving will be better because I know traffic can also be quite stressful but it gives me more independence on when I leave the office… 😀 I’ll report back on the results 😀

  14. i won’t…won’t tell you about my day, but it’s pretty similar. And YES to finding time to write, revise, SOMETHING. Somedays it’s the only thing that keeps me going.

    Great post!

    • Elodie Nowodazkij says:

      Thanks Alison 😀 And from what I gathered on your blog, you’re one busy mommy, teacher, writer…:D Writing, revising, reading, even blogging really is magical when it comes to bringing balance to us 😀

  15. katyupperman says:

    Honestly, I’m struggling with balance now, especially since my husband has come home from his deployment. It’s incredibly awesome to have him with me all the time, but figuring out where writing/blogging/family/exercise/housework fit together is tricky. I write when I can, often in the early morning before my kiddo is awake. It’s hard, but I’ll sacrifice sleep to make a writing career happen! Great post, Elodie, and good luck balancing all the aspects of your life. 🙂

    • Elodie Nowodazkij says:

      Thanks, Katy 😀 and right back at you! I hope you find a way to balance everything too. The difficult part is remembering that our writing/blogging/revising doesn’t make us less of a wife/mom/employee/daughter/friend because it also helps us to be who we are: happy, busy, sometimes a tad neurotic (or is it just me? :D), fun and smart ladies 😀

    • Elodie Nowodazkij says:

      The muse can be quite demanding sometimes while at others be quite difficult and only showing up from times to times 😀 I’m glad you don’t let it/her/him down by always being there for him/her/it 😀

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