Finding My Balance

the-point-of-tippingMy 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
  • Exercising
  • 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?

Photo credit: cdslug / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

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About Meditating Muslimah

Sharing my experiences as a new Muslimah, thoughts on religion, things that inspire me, foods I love to make and eat, Islamic fashion, travel, and life in general!
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12 Responses to Finding My Balance

  1. I find this problem more common among women than men. I think in large part is has to do with the fact that our current “work week” is designed to fit the schedule of someone who does nothing else other than work. The 9-5 was created in the 1950’s and 1960’s when men were predominantly in the workforce. Schedules and wages have been revised little to accommodate women who are generally expected to also be mother, cook, partner, etc. in addition to working from 9-5. At least in the US we put very little value on mother, cook, and other traditionally female roles. Sad. For me as a single mother my main goal for dealing with finding a work/life balance is a good education so that I can get a job working 30 hours a week which supports my son and myself and allows me to put more time into being mom.

  2. Maha Khan says:

    I struggled to balance my life as well. But Alhamdulilah, I find setting a timetable helps. At times things don’t go according to plan. They say Man Proposes God Disposes. But I find you have to keep on trying, keep taking steps forward and One day you find many aspects of your life are automatically balancing out. Great Post and Welcome Back

  3. This post resonates so deeply with what I’m experiencing at the moment and alhamdulillah, I’m glad that I’m not alone in this! I’m also work from home and as it’s work and studies and it’s very easy to get sucked. I’ve been trying to stick to a schedule and heed my hubby’s adivse of “9-5” but it’s hard (we don’t have any children yet). I fully understand your “tunnel vision” and find myself in the same situation time and time again. Alhamdulillah, I’ve been blessed to LOVE what I do, so that it’s never work ,but boy, does it get in the way of many things! I’m thinking a timetable is what’s needed. Inshaa-Allah, we’ll all be given the towfeeq to live our lives with balance, ameen! (and be able too fit in the much needed exercise, lol)

    ps, welcome back 😀

  4. I don’t know if my life is balanced or not but I pretty much like the way I perform my life. I made my priorities but I don’t make certain goal. I don’t like the idea of me binding myself to a goal I knew I can’t accomplish. My life plan is flowing like a water and like Maha Kan said Man Proposes God Disposes. If you look my daily life, you’ll find my life is a little bit dull. My daily, weekly, monthly life is only my husband, my family, my Muslim community and some times my best-friends, that’s it.

  5. Glad to have you back! 🙂

  6. ebonierika says:

    As-Salaam Alaikum, FYI I nominated you for a blogger award. Feel free to delete this as i am not looking to self-promote. Just enjoy your blog.

  7. busymom says:

    I can relate to this imbalance so deeply! Lately I keep finding myself in situations like “I know, I’m sorry, but I have been so busy with….”. Actually not lately, this has been happening for years now. But the more time passes, the more I get aware of this situation. Procrastination is my word. As I have more than one responsibility, it is so hard to keep the balance of school-work-home triangle. Sometimes I try so hard to keep everything balanced and it goes well for… only a couple of days. And the more stuff that I need to handle, I feel like I’m about to burn out. Thinking that only 2 weeks left for school and work to be done (at least for a while), I am about to burn out. And I always feel bad when I try to prioritize, because the most important thing for me is now my daughter. It will always be like that, but at the same time, I need to get my degree done, and keep up with housework, and on top of that my work. Well, I really should get back to what I was doing before I started this post- grading! Thanks for sharing your experiences friend, I feel better now that I know I am not alone 🙂
    G.

  8. amisul255 says:

    I have taken time to read this article in my email.Well, its all because of lack of self discipline. I do not work at home and I still cant cope with finish my normal work. If I were to work at home I don’t think I would make it . One thing that I have learnt from this article is to set my priorities right. Thanx.

  9. Oh, wow how I can relate to this SO well as a Muslim girl in college. (*Rant Warning*)

    First off, my parents are Pakistani. So as the stereotype goes, they want me to become a doctor. I mean don’t get me wrong, I love them and I am sure they always want the best for me but I just never wanted to become a doctor in the first place. Psychology is my passion and it took a whole lot of tears and convincing that I did not want to major in Biology (which I failed miserably at too). Situations such as this happens a lot in my life (fights between my parents). I feel like they use the ‘we are you’re parents, so islamically, you should listen to us’ excuse a lot. I do listen to them, but what about what I want to do. I feel so… Unbalanced when it comes to my parents.

    Second, I am so trivial about marriage. I’m getting near a age where my parents and I will start looking at a spouse for me. They’re limiting themselves to Pakistani-Muslims, which completely irks me. There are many nice, Muslim, men that are not Pakistani. And even if someone says there Muslim, does not mean they are good people. Someone can ‘say’ anything and turn out to be completely different (as I read from the post about Muslim and terrorism).

    Lastly, I feel unbalanced in myself. College came around, and I lost sight of my prayer. Everything is so hard to uphold in my life…Like grades, social life, etc. Yes, I know I should of prioritize Islam at the top of my list. Before, I looked to my parents to tell me to pray, and now there is no one to tell me what to do… I feel utterly lost in Islam as of right now. I try to still do the right thing, and follow the teachings of the Prophet (S) but there is a part of me that keeps falling.

    • Aqsa says:

      السلام عليكم

      My parents are Pakistani too and I understand where you are coming from believe me. But just make du’aa and IF you can speak to them and let them know to broaden their choice of spouse for you إن شاء الله.

      As for finding it difficult trying to strike a balance with Islam, this is very common. The solution may sound simple but it requires time (I have gone through this)… In the beginning it is so hard to pick up your prayer matt and heave yourself to pray but as time passes and you sincerely make that move to change, Allah ﷻ expands your heart and motivates you إن شاء الله 🙂

      What’s the key?
      – every time you wake make du’aa Allah ﷻ makes things easy for you

      – prioritise Islam, as it is a WAY OF LIFE, seek knowledge so *read the Quran everyday starting at 10 minutes, *do Dhikr slowly and as much as you can even if it is just you saying Allah Hu Akbar 10 times a day, *and of course do not neglect prayer 🙂 it is mainly through this Allah ﷻ expands your heart…

      If you do the minimum of praying and reading Quran and then fitting in other activities in the day you will be ok إن شاء الله just prioritise Allah ﷻ and He will race towards you 🙂

      If there is any good in my post it is from Allah ﷻ if there is any mistakes it is by me alone.

  10. Iffat says:

    I love your blog-enjoy reading your posts over and over again. I wanted to know something though-whose Quran translation do you use as reference -they are so beautiful and easy to understand!! I tried reading translations by others(in Bengali) but it doesn’t touch me the way it does when I read the examples that you use from Quranic verses.
    Please do keep on writing on a regular basis-all the best:)

    • Glad to hear you are enjoying my blog! The translation is by Ali Unal. Yes, I really like it too, it is the best I have seen and it was highly recommended to me when I was looking a good translation. It also has very thorough a helpful annotations that discuss many points, including history and context.

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