Guest Post: Life Balance and a Date with the Mouse

I am pleased to have Michael Scott Miller, author of Ladies and Gentlemen...The Redeemers guest blogging here on Acting Balanced today as part of his Virtual Blog Tour!  I will be reviewing his book here on Acting Balanced tomorrow!

Life Balance and a Date with the Mouse

I don’t have the type of day job where when the 5 o’clock whistle blows, I get to race home and leave the job behind.   No, my day job requires 50+ hour weeks and attention to my Blackberry when I’m not in the office.  And then there’s the whole writing thing.  In order market my novel, I’ll spend another 1-2 hours per day planning, plotting, scheming, …er, reading, researching, promoting, and interacting with readers and authors.  I also have three kids, ages 15, 13, and 8 to whom I try to give as much attention as they want (and sometimes more J).

How do I do it?  I’ll share what I do here and maybe some of it will be of value for you, whether it helps you structure your days more effectively, or simply provides a measure of relief that you aren’t the only one cramming everything possible into a day, catching a few hours of sleep, and getting up to do it again.  I managed to squeeze in a trip to Disney World a few weeks ago and not get hopelessly far behind, so with that in mind, here are my self-imposed rules for keeping life in balance, set to the music of Disney.

Let’s go fly a kite…

The first rule is that the family comes first.  Period.  Unless I am absolutely unable to break free, when the kids ask to go outside and play ball, ride a bike, help them study, read with them, whatever, my mind immediately goes to, “Can I find a way to say ‘yes’?”  Most often, I do.

Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho, it’s off to work we go…

The second rule, which ties closely into the first, is to work when the kids are otherwise occupied.  I’m more of a morning person than a night person, so I’ll get up early and work on some aspect of my writing, be it marketing, interacting with other authors on social media, or actual writing before I start my day job.  Sure, I could spend more time with the kids more in the morning, but anyone who has seen kids get ready for school knows that this is definitely NOT quality time.  I am fortunate to have a wonderfully supportive wife who handles the morning duties.  That allows me to also start the day job earlier, which in turn, allows me to come home earlier, increasing the evening quality time with the family.  Most often, I’ll still end up doing a bit more work, either day job related or writing related, once the kids go to sleep.

Look for the bare necessities…

The third rule is that you have to make choices of what is essential.  For me, that means giving up television, and to some extent, sleep.  When I listen to my friends running through all the shows they watch, in some ways I feel a bit left out, but in others, I feel like I am spending my time doing things that are so much more fulfilling.  Generally speaking, there are one or two shows per season that I’ll make time for --- Lost in its day, Modern Family now.  But even these shows get DVR’d and watched with my wife late night.  I also watch sports, but for the most part, that is easily multi-tasked.  Unfortunately, but realistically, the other thing that gets sacrificed is sleep.

Meticulous planning, tenacity spanning ,…be prepared!

The fourth rule is to be efficient.  That means being organized and prepared.  I habitually keep lists of to-do’s and plan what is to be accomplished on a given day or even in a given hour.  That means pre-determining the amount of time I will spend participating on discussion boards, reading blogs, Tweeting, and writing.  Okay, it helps to be a bit OCD here.  But the prep time that is spent on planning and organization pays off with a much more efficient use of time.

When you wish upon a star…

I hope that I was able to give those of you with life balance issues at least a few ideas that will help you follow your dreams.  I’m having a blast following mine…

Michael Scott Miller works with numbers by day in the business world and with words by night.  He began writing shortly after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania and has had his work published in the Welcomat (now Philadelphia Weekly) and wrote music reviews for the Wharton Journal while his wife was getting her degree there.
Miller’s debut novel, Ladies and Gentlemen…The Redeemers, has been downloaded more than ten thousand times and has received tremendously positive reader feedback, earning 4-star to 5-star ratings at Amazon,