Royal Roads - garden bridgeAfter spending three weeks in academia, with no time to read newspapers or watch the news, let alone be active on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and such, it’s been interesting getting (slowly) back into the swing of things.

Today, in between researching topics on peer-reviewed journals for a paper I have to write, I caught up on some blogs. (Er, can you spell “procrastinate,” class?)

I’ve been neglecting blogs, and not just my own. Looking through my feeds, I see several blogs that have 200 posts I have not read, nor is it likely I will get to them. The ones I do read regularly — and make sure to catch up on during times like this — are written by people I know, feel I know, like and respect, or that make me laugh or are related to work or inspire me. It seems the ones that fall into the category of 200+ unread posts are the ones that just post too darned often. And yes, every day is too often, no matter how brilliant you are.

But having time to write for and read blogs is all a matter of maintaining balance, something my team tackled in a group presentation we had to do last week for the Public Speaking course (go Team 3!). We took the position that cramming the extra 15-20 hours of work that will apparently be required of our BA program is doable. We tried to make it clear, though, that adding extra schoolwork means adjusting time spent elsewhere, not taking away family time or neglecting our health. After all, if Canadians typically watch about 22 hours of TV a week, how difficult can it be to pry ourselves away from the tube and instead hit the books?

By coincidence, one of the blog posts I read today touched on the very topic of balance. The always inspiring Colleen Wainwright, Communicatrix, suggested shared an update to the instruction often given by agencies and independents: “Fast. Good. Cheap. Pick any two.” In other words, if you want it good and you want it tomorrow, be prepared to pay extra for it.

Colleen suggests credits the hilarious David Sedaris (writing in The New Yorker) for the “Four Burner” model worth aspiring to: “Family. Friends. Health. Work. Pick any three.”

The idea is not that you can’t have all four; Colleen says, “it’s that you can’t have an exceptional level of all four at once.” So if you are a workaholic, and your family and friends are important to you, then maybe your health is going to suffer. Or if family is everything, one of the other three is going to get a lot less attention. Or, you’re going to keep juggling all the balls in the air by merely doing the best you can, and that’s fine. Her advice:

“Pick one to hit out of the park or pick a life that lets you gracefully enjoy a bit from the sampler plate of all four. Pick, though. Pick today, and then pick again tomorrow…”

The key here is making it a thoughtful choice.

(In case you’re wondering, the photo above is my own, of the bridge in the Japanese garden at Royal Roads University in B.C.)