You Can’t Do It All

Posted on December 12, 2007. Filed under: Stop the Drama |


Photo by sylvar

I have a friend who constantly beats herself up. No matter what she accomplishes, or what she is able to do for her family and friends, it is never enough. But worse than saying she could do more, she says she is a bad person (or mother, or friend, or worker, or sister depending on the task) because of something she hasn’t been able to do.

The reality is we all feel like this at some point. There is always more that you can do, but you don’t have enough time, energy or money. But does that mean you are a bad person? Of course not. I once knew a research scientist who had a demanding job and was also the mother of four children. She told me that she saw her life as a constant pendulum going back and forth between her work and home life. There were times when she was a great mother, but didn’t focus that much on her work. Then there were other times when the demands of her work required a lot of attention, and she had less to give to her kids. Over the course of her career, she had always swung back and forth between those two extremes, but felt that each got enough attention over time. I guess it worked, since she was a successful researcher, and her children grew up to be happy, successful and centered adults.
The bottom line is you can’t do it all. No one can. So the approach I try to take is to do all of the things I can, knowing that I won’t be perfect. However, whatever it is that I am doing, I give it my all and am fully present and attentive. So rather than sitting in meetings at work and thinking about Halloween costumes, or playing with my kids but thinking about deadlines at work, I try to compartmentalize the different parts of my life and give them my full attention at the appropriate time. This means that when I get home from work, I want to use those evening hours as time with my children and don’t get on the phone or computer. And when I am at work, I give it my full attention and don’t chat with my friends and family.
The good part of this approach is that every part of my life gets my full attention at a specific time. The bad part is there is still not enough time so I constantly feel like everything is only 80% done. However, things do eventually get addressed in time. I think it works out, and is a less stressful approach than trying to juggle all your tasks at once, while getting none of them really done.



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[…] the work/family balance. At the core of most of these is coming to terms with the fact that you can’t do it all. And that’s […]

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    Musings on how a disorganized woman with a full time job, three kids and a real need to relax is trying to make life simple.

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