My absence from my blog recently has been a symptom of a problem I feel like I am always struggling with: the struggle to balance my life. Over the past year or two especially I have frequently felt overwhelmed by my life; always felt ‘behind.’ There’s always something to catch up on, something that needs to be taken care of. I tend to get tunnel vision, focusing only on the immediate priority and forgetting about everything else. It’s happened more than once that I totally forgot to make dinner because I was so engrossed in what I was trying to get done.
I am amazed at myself sometimes when I look back at my college years; how was I able to get through school and keep my sanity? Somehow between the busy schedules of classes, homework, internships, and work, I managed to find time for fun and relaxation: spending time with friends, going to the movies, sharing a long-distance conversation with family, and even mini-vacations. Maybe it’s because I made sure that the ‘small stuff’ were still priorities– probably because I knew, maybe sub-consciously, that I WOULD lose my sanity if I didn’t sometimes take breaks from school and work.
At the same time, I think that things were more structured then, which probably made it easier for me to accomplish all that– I had a school schedule and a work schedule; I had essays that needed to be completed by specific dates. My life now if a lot less structured; and working from home makes it even more difficult. It will take a lot of discipline now for me to fit in everything I want to.
When hearing about people who work from home, self-discipline is often something brought up. This is because when you work from home, you are at great danger of losing the balance in your life, both due to a lack of self-discipline: either you will not spend enough time ‘working,’ or you will spend too much time on it. I have experienced both.
So what is a balanced life? For me, it means leaving time every day to do the things that matter, while taking care of your responsibilities. Balancing all the various aspects of one’s life: family, work, rest, self-improvement, etc. In learning about Islam, I have understood that achieving balance in your life is emphasized a lot. I once heard a fellow Muslim speaking about Islam, stating that to him, Islam means balance– the middle path. Bringing together the various aspects of your life to live a fulfilled, balanced existence. This emphasis on balance can be seen in examples throughout the Quran:
- In balancing this world with the afterlife: “But seek, by means of what God has granted you, the abode of the Hereafter (by spending in alms and other good causes), without forgetting your share (which God has appointed) in this world.” Quran 28:77
- In creation as an example of balance: “The sun and the moon are by an exact calculation (of the All-Merciful). And the stars and the trees both prostrate (before God in perfect submission to His laws). And the heaven — he has made it high (above the earth), and He has set up the balance. So that you may not go beyond (the limits with respect to) the balance. And observe he balance with full equity, and do not fall short in it.” Quran 55: 5-9
- In religion: “Oh People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion” Quran 4:171
- Balancing worldly and spiritual affairs: “But seek, by means of what God has granted you, the abode of the Hereafter (by spending in alms and other good causes), without forgetting your share (which God has appointed) in this world. Do good to others as God has done good to you (out of His pure grace). Do not seek corruption and mischief in the land, for God does not love those who cause corruption and make mischief.”
An important part of balancing your life is understanding what your priorities are. I recently made a list for myself of what is important in my life; what I want to spend my time doing. Lately I have been spending a lot of time in my work-from-home job, and not leaving much time for anything else; in this busyness that I have created for myself, the small things are often left out, with my excuse being “I don’t have time.” But I have come to the realization that my work will be never-ending; it will be impossible for me to ever get everything done, so I should stop trying. Instead, I should focus on the priorities in the time I’ve allotted, then move on to taking care of other aspects of my life.
I have a lot of goals for myself, and in order to accomplish them I’m going to have to make room for them, and set aside time for those things. Here are some of the things I want to set aside more time for; for some of them daily, 3-4 times a week, or weekly (in no particular order):
- Learning Turkish
- Learning Quranic Arabic
- Reading (including reading Quran more)
- Writing (including for this blog!)
- Talking with long-distance family
- Fun activities and ‘date nights’ with my husband
I’ve decided that the best way for me to start is by making a daily schedule for myself, for some of this stuff. The next step will be to stop working ‘after hours’ and to limit my job time to 9-5 , as if I were in an office job. It’s going to take a lot of self-discipline, determination, and time management. But with God’s help, inshaAllah I will be able to accomplish it!
Do you also struggle with finding balance?
What do you do to keep your life balanced?