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Saturday, 14 May 2011

Taking a Break

I have been enjoying a bit of a hiatus from blogging for six weeks or so, so what have I been up to? I started a new company in conjunction with my daughter's boyfriend, I have watched five seasons of MASH, I have read (a little bit), I have played Guild Wars with my daughter, I have helped my wife decorate half the house (well it feels like it!), I had a very busy time with church over Easter, I made a new fence for the garden, oh and I WROTE!

The Mended Fence
Come on, size isn't everything!

Since starting my blog in October last year, I found myself spending more and more hours writing, reading and commenting in the blogosphere. It reached a point where I was spending four hours or more a night on blogger and precious little time doing anything else. I originally started the blog as an encouragement to start writing the books that I am carrying around in my head, and indeed through many wonderful blogs I have found a wealth of resource material, inspiration and invaluable advice. BUT, and there always seems to be a but, I was spending so much time blogging, and writing for blogfests, I realised I was not writing my novels at all. I was neglecting my duties around the home, and worse I was not spending any quality time with the family.

I have come to notice a pattern in my life - I latch onto something that consumes my attention, and I become immersed in it to the exclusion of pretty much everything else. The result is that I burn out. When in the middle of it, it seems unthinkable that I could give it up, and yet there comes a time when I find the commitment has waned and the guilt over the hours spent spoils the enjoyment. Is this what has happened to my blogging? Well, yes and no. The difference between blogging and the other activities that have come and gone (such as games and forums) is that blogging is NOT a waste of time - it serves a real purpose and is a good discipline.

So I do not want to turn my back on blogging, but instead I want to learn to change a habit of a lifetime (nothing like a bit of ambition!). I want to learn to blog in moderation, to make space for writing, to spend time being useful at home, as well as spending time with the family. I need to spend time focussing on my business, and on building up the new company. I remain committed to my service to the Church and I am seeking guidance on how that service might develop from here. Realistically I have 48 hours per week to divide amongst my many interests.

So here is a rough pattern I propose to try:

Church (incl personal study)12 hrs
Family12 hrs
Genyx (new company)6 hrs
Writing8 hrs
Reading4 hrs
Blogging, blogfests6 hrs

I hope by sharing this resolution with you, I might be able to find some elusive balance in my life and, who knows, I might find I am not alone in being a walking time management disaster! (no, don't ask how I can run a business if my time management is shot!)

Do you have ways of managing your time that work for you? Are you naturally able to juggle the many demands on your life? Is there really truth in the claim that men can't multi-task?!


  1. I'm in a bit of break myself right now, Dominic. Time management is such a crunch! Good luck on your new goals!


  2. I am so glad you wrote this, Dom. I must admit I did wonder where you found enough hours in a day/week to do everything.
    I have never been good at time management in my life.
    During my long working career, I worked too hard, for too many hours, always in some kind of bizarre competition with myself to do better than I had done the day or week before. However, I was younger then, and still found time to go out for coffee with friends, work on committees, go dancing...
    Then my health broke down.
    I think there is a direct connection between my health and my poor time management. Cause and effect? I don't know. Connection? Yes.
    So, although I've missed you here in the blogosphere, I have to say I'm glad you've identified the problem, and particularly glad you've put your family up there in a tie for first place.
    — K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  3. Good luck with finding a balance with all your interests and with life!! It's something that I continue to wrestle with. So far I'm loving blogging! I mean I missed it when Blogger disappeared for 48 hours this week due to maintenance issues.

    BUT!! Blogging can be a bit overwhelming at times - e.g.during such things as the A-Z challenge when it was all I could do to keep up with the blogs I follow who were participaing - the funny thing being that I wasn't even in the blogfest!!! LOL! It's got me thinking that if I'm still around in blogland this time next year, I need to manage my blogging better and be really disciplined, like take a blogging break or just stick to 3 times a week blogging or something like that.

    I guess for me, the search to find that perfect balance continues. For now, I'm just winging it!!!

    Take care

  4. Very well said, Dom. MrB and me had to take time out from blogging recently due to some poorly loved ones and I think there are many people in Blogland who feel that this amazing community can soak up more time than we have.

    I have only been writing for six months and blogging, blogfests etc have helped in so many ways but, like you, I can spend way too many hours trying to read and comment. I also have to learn to manage time!

    Great to see you back - splendid fence btw!

  5. During the day I dip in and out of blogs as I write. So I'll maybe write for an hour then spend 15 minutes catching up. A night I probally spend another hour -- eek I see what you mean, that's seven hours a week, wow, it adds up doesn't it.

  6. Hi Dom - It was nice to have your blog pop up with a new entry. You are so correct. Blogging is awesome, and the writing community is an amazing source of information and encouragement. It is also a time hog. Like you, I've done more blogging/reading/commenting than actually writing and submitting, which rather defeats the purpose. Also like you, I've re-prioritized. I got myself through the A-Z, and will now only blog 3x per week, with a little time here and there to read and comment on other blogs. Since I believe every blogger is experiencing the same overload, I have never doubted that my pals will understand my reduced presence. Good luck to you! You know I'll visit when you post. :)

  7. Small is beautiful and that fence looks pretty good to me.

    I am so with you on the balancing work, family, writing, and blogging. And, like you, I am all or nothing kind of person. But unlike all the other tried and given up projects in my life, writing and blogging has been the one i've stuck to and do not want to fail at.

    Since starting my blog nearly a yer ago i've struggled with spending too much time blogging. After much trial and error, I now have the following rules:

    1. Follow a blog schedule and try to pre-write posts at beginning of week.
    2. Limit blogfests to two a month maximum.
    3. Always visit blogs of those who comments on mine but only when time allows.
    4. If my time isn't needed elsewhere, visit a other blogs.
    5. Writing and family are prority.
    6. Finally, don't beat myself up if blogging doesn't get done.

    It sounds as if you have a good plan. Just remember to enjoy youself!

  8. Balance is hard, but important. I've found myself reaching for the blog and Forum far too much lately, too. When I'm tired it's so easy to just click away instead of writing. Good luck and wish me the same. ; )

  9. My visiting average is one hundred blogs a day, so I understand the time consumption! Once we got through the A to Z Challenge, I've eased back as I try to complete revisions on my next novel. Balance is difficult. Then again, I think back to the stupid hours I spent playing computer games and it doesn't seem like such a waste.

  10. Wow, you have been busy! I like your perspective. And your new schedule. I am exactly the same. I immerse myself in something and get consumed. Then I burn out. I, too, neglected my writing-the whole purpose of beginning the blog. Now, thanks to a sinus infection and reaction to the meds, I've had to really take time off-from almost everything. Basically, I'm down to posting once a week (but I am in a couple easy 'fests this week) and visiting only on the weekends. Good luck with your balance. I crave it!

  11. I have sooo missed you! Glad to see your blog again.
    Alex Cavanaugh must be speed reader & typist! I have had to be more selective in what I will start perusing, but I love it all.
    The past six weeks have been tough for me (my mom passed away April 3), and I am glad to be reading you again.

  12. There is definitely such a thing as paying too much attn to blogging. It's not easy striking that balance!

  13. It's nice to know I'm not alone. I haven't been able to strike that perfect balance between writing, blogging and all of my other responsibilities. I guess that's because the time needed for each is always changing.

    Good luck with your new schedule and I hope you will let us know how it goes for you.

  14. I admire you Dom, for taking the time away from blogging to get on with your life. I can't say you weren't missed, because your comments and encouragement are always welcome.
    I also enjoyed a whole week. Cough! Okay so not 6 weeks, but I was amazed that I could exist without blogging (save the very occasional comment here and there) for a week, though I did not write in that time. Glad you got so much done.

    In answer to your question, some days I am so organised I feel like Jill Archer and others I can't seem to get anything done though I feel I've been busy all day! :O)

  15. I couldn't agree with you more. If you want to learn about short and sweet blog posting, then Kristen Lamb is your woman. Her advice has meant I spend so much less time on my posts :)

  16. I've had to start making a schedule as well. I'm down to posting three times a week. I think 's better that way.

  17. Thank you so much everyone for your encouragement. It will take a little while to get used to rationing out time. It was quite a shock to realise how little spare time there is in a week and how thinly it spreads!

    Thanks for dropping by Catherine. I went to visit Kristen's blog ... ummm an hour later I was still reading! (I have tagged for more reading later.)

    My deepest sympathies Susan. I hope the bitterness of heartache is sweetened by the joy of happy memories.

    I hope to be back to blogging a couple of times a week, in order to leave time to visit a few people each week. I'm still trying to figure out what I am meant to be doing with my life!

    I'll be back soon! (sung to Lionel Bart's music!)

  18. Hi Dom. I completely empathise with you on this. I have been in the same situation, and over the last few weeks circumstances have forced me away from blogging. I'm now coming back to it with the firm intent of doing pretty much what you describe here.

    Blogging is, as you say, valuable. So I'm planning to limit my time blogging and use it as well as I can.

  19. I had to cut back too. I wasn't getting any writing done and I must get a book a month or every two up online. That is what the successful writers are doing. In the middle of all that, we are losing our home because of the economic downturn. Now, my daughter and her boyfriend have gotten jobs, so I know where I will end up living. That's a big relief. I took them in and they will do the same for me.
    N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium

  20. I keep reading that there are few people who can truly multi-task. And I know for sure that I'm not one of them. You're probably in the clear.

    On the other hand, I'm really jealous that you watched five seasons of M*A*S*H. I can never decide if my favourite line from the early seasons is "Hey, look! A diminutive Diogenes!" or "No, I've thought it over and I would definitely like another drink."

  21. I can relate to this as well-I now post at least twice a week, and catch up with other blogs 1-2 days a week. I want blogging to be fun and not feel like a chore, which it was slowly becoming. Glad you're back!


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