Thursday, May 3, 2012

two months in

One of the main reasons that I quit my job last year was to enable me to focus a bit more on the non-work things I loved about life.  These were things like gardening, cooking, reading, working on my house, and exercising.  When I decided to go back, I also decided to really focus on making sure that I was doing these things regularly.  In corporate speak, this is called work-life balance.  It's something I was sorely missing before and actually thought, at one point, was impossible for a lawyer.  So, now that I've been at my new job for two months (two months!) I decided to check in and see how I was doing.

1.  Gardening.  I revealed last week that our lawn had grown to a foot in height.  Nothing has been weeded, unless you count randomly pulling clover out of the cracks of the driveway as I walk to the front door at the end of a work day.  There are no annuals in the ground, no vegetables in the raised bed (except the garlic, planted last year) and I haven't spread compost or mulched a single thing.  The Stewartia is still in it's shipping pot, sitting on top of its future home.  I did manage to mow the lawn on Monday after work, which took me about twice as long as normal because I had to bag the extra-long lawn clippings, and decided to mow the patio so at least the weeds were as short as the grass. 0 out of 10.

2.  Cooking.  I have not made muffins, to everyone's dismay, although I have pinned a few spring muffin recipes on Pinterest, which I consider progress on that front.  I have managed to cook a few real meals, but mostly we have been members of the 20 minutes or less club.  It is possible to make delicious food in under 20 minutes.  It is exceedingly difficult to do this when you buy your groceries online and never get exactly what you thought you were getting (Not enough meat!  These are spring onions?  They didn't send the milk!)  I like to touch, examine, and smell the food I buy.  This is hard to do on your iPhone during your commute.  2 out of 10.

(via Pinterest)

3.  Reading.  This one is actually going remarkably well.  I think that the shift from driving in every day to taking the train has made a big difference.  Any day I don't ride in with Kathy I have a half hour of uninterrupted reading time.  Currently, I'm reading The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman, which I have had my eye on for a while.  8 out of 10!

4.  Working on my house.  This one is also going well, thanks in part to Kathy's recent discovery that she actually loves house projects.  We bought the Fire Island fixer-upper, and have been out there every weekend dutifully painting, scraping, demolishing, and re-building our Roman creamsicle into our New England beach house.  In all fairness, this is a big reason that items 1 and 2 have been going so poorly, since we aren't in Westchester on the weekends anymore.  So, for our "real" house this one gets a 1 out of 10, but for the Fire Island fixer-upper, it's a solid 10 out of 10, for an average of 6 out of 10 ( I rounded up).

(a little teaser of Fire Island fixer-upper posts to come)

5.  Exercising.  I should start out by saying that I am for the most part "an exercise because it makes me feel good" kind of person.  I truly enjoy it, so it's a real priority for me.  This is also a priority that is made really tough by working full time.  I got myself a gym membership, but sometimes it's such a hassle to remember all the clothes to bring in (I always forget socks) and make the time to go during the day -- even when I'm not busy.  Last night I was super-excited about a potential yoga class, but had to work 15 extra minutes and missed it.  BLAH.  Really recently I have been making an effort (i.e., this week) but before that I would say that this has been the longest no-exercise stretch since I was in college, because of the back injury and the new job.  2 out of 10.

All of this averages a 3.6 out of 10.  Which is pretty abysmal.  Having abysmal work-life balance is not conducive to a long-lasting career, or personal sanity, so I'm going to have to develop some kind of action plan to dig in a little deeper on these things.  This much needed check-in has made me realize that work-life balance doesn't just happen, it's something you have to constantly work on.  You have only so many hours in a day, so if you don't consciously decide how to spend them, they slip away.

As a parting note, I will say that time spent with my family has been much better than before, although this wasn't one of the factors I assessed here.  There have been only 3 nights I have had to work late and miss dinner, in over two months, which is not a bad track record considering that I need to leave by 6 to make dinner.  The weekends have also been largely work-free, and this place is not a crazy blackberry place like my last firm.  This weekend I am even skipping out a couple hours early on Friday to go down to Florida with the kids as tag-alongs on one of Kathy's business trips.  Although a little more time with my lovely fiancee would be desirable, it hasn't been awful.

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