Over the past month I’ve seen several blogs talking about prioritizing your life in order to help you get all of the things you need to do and want to do done. This is great advice. It makes perfect sense, and I’m sure works beautifully for the emotionally stable people out there. Are any of them writers??

The first problem I run into is trying to figure out what my top priorities are. I have a list of emotional priorities and real life priorities and few things cross over. Let’s take a look at how this process works. Don’t worry you can’t catch crazy.

Real life priorities: work, my kids, hubby, showering, social media, editing, formatting, and working out.
Emotional Priorities: writing, my kids, hubby, friends, relaxing, and reading.

So only my family crosses over, and in my day-to-day life, they get very little of my time because of the work thing.
Explanation of work thing: okay to truly empathize with me and understand the crazy, you need to understand what I do for a living. I am a houseparent at a group home for children who have been removed from their homes by child protective services. I go to work at 3pm–right before they come home from school–and I work until 9am the next morning. I work all weekend, three times per month. I do get ten respite hours per week. I parent the kids: homework, bedtime stories, hygiene, etc. The more I interact with them, the easier things are, but the less time I have for other things. My own family lives upstairs (think two-story apartment building) so they can come down and I can see them; but if I’m with them, I’m neglecting the work kids, and if I’m focused on the work kids I’m neglecting my family. A perfect example of the battle between real life and emotional priorities.

Okay, so far all is calm, but once I get into my list, the “should” begin to creep in. You know, those nasty little voices that start to list everything you have failed to do—ever. Who cares that I’m making a list now and organizing my life now. I should have been taking care of: the dishes, laundry, dinner, making lunches, playing games, calling friends, posting more on twitter, editing, reading more, doing yoga with my daughter, working out, eating better, dusting, filling out paperwork, formatting, writing, cleaning my room, cleaning the house, baking, going on dates with my hubby, helping with homework, and, dear God, when was the last time I cut my toe nails? Quick put on some socks and hide those nasty things!

Now a normal person might clip her toe nails and realize she can’t change the past so she takes a deep breath, lets it out, and figures out how to change things so she can do her best from this day forward. I begin to spiral into the pit of despair (queue eerie music). Now this can range from feeling like I suck and pouting for a bit to falling into the pit binging on eggrolls, ice cream, and allowing every crappy thought I’ve ever had to fill my brain. Yes, I have gone to counseling, and, yes, I do have some tools to keep myself from falling too deeply into the pit. The biggest two are daily exercises and eating healthy food. I also have an angst-ridden story that sucks. I write the story when I’m in this mood. Those poor characters take a lot of abuse.

So how does one so emotionally fragile and freakish make a list of priorities? With help. I ask my husband, good friends, or even my therapist to help me figure out what is most important. They validate that the things on my emotional list do have as much value as the things on my real life list. Someday, I hope, my work and writing will be the same thing, but for now I have to juggle two jobs, one hubby, two personal children, five work children, two households, working out, and talking to a friend now and then.

And before anyone comments on hubby helping, let me tell you that he also works full time, takes care of our kids after school, makes 98% of the meals, and does 95% of the housework. So he helps enough. I would be lost without him.

So how do you prioritize your time? Do you need help, or are you able to fit it all together in one shining, color-coded spread sheet?

And just to lighten the mood and let everyone now I’m not currently wallowing in self pity- this is what I which balancing looked like in my life.