You Can't Do It All

I'm grateful for the women who have come before me and fought for the choices available to me now. The vote (particularly pertinent today); the opportunity to have a career; the opportunity to not have a career. But more recently there have been a lot written (mostly but not entirely by women) about "having [to do] it all." A good opportunity to face, more #firstworldproblems, but the hard truth is you just can't do it all.

There is a concept, often applied to design projects, called the Time-Cost-Quality triangle. The premise is that to have more of one you have to sacrifice on one or both the others. Or to use the words of "Sailor Jerry" (Norman Keith Collins) "Good work ain't cheap, and cheap work ain't good!" So you can do more in the time you have, but you won't do it as well. Or you can do things well, but do less of them.

There simply aren't hours in the day. It isn't possible to be the best you can at everything available. Certainly not without become a gibbering wreck. You have to make intentional choices about what you're going to prioritise in your life, and you have to accept that that means that you're going to have to say no to some things.

 Te Mata Peak, New Zealand

Te Mata Peak, New Zealand

At the moment my activities consist of the following (in no particular order): main job; freelance work; renovating the flat; writing this blog; maintaining a relationship between two cities; seeing friends socially; ceramics class and other craft projects.

I don't have children or pets. You'll note that I don't include housework or cooking or exercise on that list. Not having those things in my schedule allows me make space for the others. I have the incredible benefit of living with my parents, ostensibly while I get through the worst of the renovation (that bit where there's no kitchen or sanitation), but this is also the thing that allows me to work a full day, go do two hours DIY, and walk in the door to a home cooked meal and a pile of clean laundry. I am incredibly lucky.

Exercise has been (consciously) ditched because it cuts into DIY time, and frankly carrying materials up and down the three flights of stairs see me alright at the moment.

 Not the stairs to my flat (unfortunately) but the stairs in our French holiday rental last year.

Not the stairs to my flat (unfortunately) but the stairs in our French holiday rental last year.

This week I got the offer to go to Amsterdam for four days as a promotional trip. It was organised by a flooring company and we would be seeing their production process and also having plenty of free time to see Amsterdam too. A great opportunity, but I would have needed two days holiday from work, at a time that would have taken me away from a project at an important stage. And those two days holiday would mean I'd have less time to spend with my friend in the run up to her wedding, where I'm bridesmaid. And I would loose hours of DIY time. And right now all of those things are more important to me than a free trip to Amsterdam, however fun it might be.

And much as I love my lifestyle, and as much as I genuinely enjoy the DIY, I am sooo looking forward to being able to cook, and do yoga, even clean (yeah, that'll wear off pretty quickly I'm sure) in my own place. To, as I refer to it, "be a grown up again." These choices serve me now, but soon they won't and they will change. I will have changed, so they will change.

I may get the chance to do the Amsterdam trip next year. Or next year I may have a dog and so my priorities will be different again. Or I'll have stopped freelance work to put more time into my main job. Or there'll be some completely different set of priorities that will be shaping my time.

Why am I telling you this? Because I've been trying to find time to blog properly all week, and failing to get enough quality content together to be worth posting. And then I realised that the best post I could do was on why it's OK not to do it all, or at least not all at once. We need to allow ourselves the opportunity to not do everything. To quote Anne Lamott "'No' is a complete sentence."