Thursday, January 1, 2009

Balancing act

I've gone back and forth about posting a new years-y entry about reading in 2008. I began writing yesterday about people dressing up to go out, and we book geeks staying at home all excited about working on our booklists, and then I deleted it. I thought I'd just listen to jazz instead. I think for me it has been a discouraging year in terms of reading books but an encouraging year in terms of reading blogs. So many are like stories, fiction and nonfiction, that I forget I'm at the computer and not in a chair with a book. But as I am now another year older, and have read 38 books in the past year, I feel time at my back. How do I find a balance between these two activities which I love so much? I don't have an answer yet.

One of my favorite things in the Provincial Lady books by E.M. Delafield is when she stops and says: "Query" and then asks a question. That's what I am going to do now.

How do you find time to:

read books
read blogs
write your own blog
respond to comments on your blog
watch movies

and then there are those who have a job, have children at home, exercise, do volunteer work, raise farm animals, on and on and on.

I'd really like to know. Do you keep track of how long you are on the computer? Do you set limits? How do you visit all the blogs you love - every one every day? Some every day, some once a month?

I'm hoping your answers will offer guidance as I try to figure out how to achieve a better balance.


  1. Nan, I've really been wrestling with this myself. I love reading and writing blogs! I definately don't want to give that up, but I am going to confine it to certain times of the day: early morning, before breakfast; and some time late in the day. As for movies and TV, I'm not going to re-watch things I've seen before, because there is so much I haven't seen. I'm pushing myself to be a more disciplined reader, and that will happen mostly in the evening and on weekends, I think. We'll see how it goes; I think my life is in someways too flexible now, and I could use more of a schedule to get things done.

  2. Happy New Year, Nan! My limits are set by the fact that we have one computer for a family of four. I jump in and look forward to visiting Letters from a Hill Farm when I can. Thank you for being there for me...

  3. Nan, I think we all ask ourselves those questions.
    I have certainly tried to be a little more self-disciplined about the time I spend on-line in recent months. I have given up reading a lot of the blogs devoted solely to books because I was spending too much time there as well as being drawn into buying more books than I could ever read.

    I now have a set of favourites, yours among them, that I check on each day. I wait until there is a live feed alert of a new post on them, so that cuts down a little time. I used to feel that I had to write a new post every day but now I just write when the mood takes me.

    I try to use time on reading blogs as a reward for completing a chore. It works on some days but on others I think that the housework can wait!

  4. I have been reading and thoroughly enjoying your blog for a long time now and one of my resolutions for 2009 is to comment on the blogs I read. Thank you for your lovely thoughts and insights!
    One way I try to monitor the time I spend on the internet is a card system - based on the S.H.E. 3x5 card system. I have daily cards, every other day cards, weekly cards, every other week cards and monthly cards. This has to be constantly tweaked because there are often new blogs / websites I want to add to my list. I foresee in the near future a major readjustment to how often I read what is on my list. For instance, probably a majority of the each category will move to the next category and I will make an every other month category. This will spread things out a bit more and reduce the amount of time I spend daily on the internet. I hope this makes sense.
    Again, thank you for your gift of words.

  5. It is a hard balancing act. Sometimes when I get really busy and don't have time to keep up with my google reader, I clear it so it doesn't seem so overwhelming. What is it that our mother's taught us, "everything in moderation" There is time for all the things that you enjoy.

  6. I am not much of a scheduler. I am lucky that I only work 2 days per week. I don't watch much tv. I read most nights before I go to sleep. I don't read as much as I want to. I have just lately taken some blogs off my Reader feeder that I don't feel I want to read daily. A Reader feeder is really a time saver if you read lots of blogs like I do. I never have enough time to do art like I would like to. I don't really know any definite answers Nan. It is difficult to do what all a Person wants to do in this day and age of so many choices.

  7. It is difficult fitting everything in - impossible really. I read early mornings - books and blogs and tend to write as the fancy takes me and time allows - I have to do some housework! I'm lucky as Dave does a lot of the cooking. I don't visit all the blogs I read everyday - Google Reader helps with that as it shows when someone has written a new post.

    I don't often watch movies and last year I did next to no gardening - beyond a bit of weeding now and then and mowing the lawns. And exercise is something I should do more - I like walking.

    I'll have to stop now as I'm cooking dinner today.

    I hope you find the answer!

  8. Nan, what good questions you ask! I have been able to work a full time job, keep house, cook, garden, keep up my blog, respond to other blogs, read, knit and watch a few shows on TV. Some days I don't get to everything. I don't limit my time on the computer, I usually just spend a little time with each blog. I respond to about 25 almost daily. Sometimes I'm not able to respond at all and I really miss it. I don't have any children at home anymore, but I do have a 2 yr. old Golden Retriever and a hubby. John works a second job though a few nights a week and a weekend day. I guess that gives me more freedom than some. Hope you find a balance that works for you-good luck!

  9. I don't post on my blog every day, but of course I must go online every day. I post at least three times a week, but only when inspiration strikes. Otherwise, I check my email and usually respond before the day is over if I have anything that requires it. I don't go to all that many blogs, either, just maybe four or five, and some of them only a couple of times a week.

    I don't read nearly as many books as you do, but when I'm into one, I'll set aside little half-hour to one hour increments of time to spend with one.

    You'll hate this one: I go to the gym for a 35-40 minute workout at least four times a week, aiming for six times a week. The gym is a 15-minute walk to my apartment, and I'm in a fourth-floor walkup. This will kill at least an hour every day I go, but I feel so good afterwards that it's become a compulsion.

    I don't cook as much as I once did, and I never did preserving or canning as I suspect you do, and I don't garden or even have a plant to water, much less a pet!

    I've just got my second book published, so much of my blog writing will in order to promote it. Prioritizing and downsizing are the key to keeping a clear head and a happy day-to-day existence. The blog brings wonderful friends like you, and is worth maintaining for that reason among others. Sometimes writing the blog itself organizes me for the day.

    Happy New Year to you and your readers!

  10. Hi Nan. I know that sometimes, some things have to "give." Re: blogging -- I do limit myself to only posting when I have an extra 15 minutes ... and during the work week, that is once or maybe twice a week in the evening to unwind. On weekends, I limit myself to no more than an hour of blogging. As for blog-reading, I use Bloglines and only read blogs with new content. If I start reading a new blog, I take one out of my Bloglines that I haven't been reading. I can only read so many!

    I do a lot of reading for my coursework, so that is just like breathing. I look forward to reading the lighter stuff on semester breaks! Like now! Thanks to you, I would like to read some Gladys Taber!

    T.V. - pretty much gone (except for an occasional Netflix series episodes). Movies tend to be what goes. I do miss watching movies more regularly and I work them in when I can. Cooking - thankfully my husband does most of it due to my work hours. I cook on weekends (and freeze extra). Gardening - something I had to give up. I have my annuals in the summer and just a handful of perennials that have survived years of neglect. Exercise - walking 3x a week religiously (it isn't much, but better than nothing).

    I guess it all comes down to juggling and cutting what has to be cut and when. It's all good.

    (Oh-responding to comments... I don't get enough where that becomes an issue because my blog is "unlisted" on Blogger).

    Happy New Year!

  11. I too would like the answers to these questions. I can't help thinking whatever I do something else has to give. I did not blog, comment or read blogs or anything over the Christmas period. I'm back now and it is lovely to be amongst 'friends' again. I am also in Purplecoo and that is addictive and takes up even more time, I wouldn't be without it though.

  12. First, Happy 2009, Nan! May it bring you many great reads and wonderful music, and an abundant garden and rewarding time in your kitchen!

    Second--nice blog re-design!

    Third, I don't really set boundaries for online or computer time. I do try, at least one day at the weekend, not to turn on any of the computers at all! That's an Us day, a catch-up day for reading for pleasure (or research) and usually the night we watch a film.

    I subscribe to many magazines, for info or entertainment. These are far easier to concentrate upon when I've had a long & busy day, or have come home from an evening meeting. Reading blogs sometimes fills the same function as a magazine for me--I follow some lifestyle blogs, homemaking blogs, newsy blogs, book blogs, and most of all writing and writers' blogs.

    So much of my reading is non-fiction in connection with my historical writing. That cuts in to my novel-reading time far more than online activity (writing or reading blogs).

    During these holidays, I've whittled down my To Be Read stack, and now am hungry for more and more pleasure reading! I'm always far behind on the popular books, usually because I'm reading to keep up with trends in my own category, or for pure escapism.

    That's about as analytical as I can get!

  13. This is a good query. One that I feel I think about and try to confront all the time. I think you and I have been over, under, around and around this through the years.

    I was considering starting up my blog again, but have decided to not do it. I read 20 or so blogs and keep them Bloglines. As there are new posts, I read them. I don't comment as much as I used to. Sometimes I don't read them for a few days or even a week.

    However, my self-imposed discipline at the computer has produced more reading time and I finished 13 books in December. In my life, something has to give and I hate it when it is my reading time.

    I'm starting my no-book-buying time today and I'm so looking forward to just enjoying what's on my shelves. You were right. It's like a bookstore.

    You'll figure this out, Nan. Maybe the answer is that the balance is different at different times of your life.

  14. I have a job that requires a lot of time (60+ hours a week), so my recreational reading (including blogs) tends to get shoe-horned in around the the subway en route to and from the office, standing in line wherever, in bed, while eating dinner, etc. All of which has been made easier by my newest toy, a Kindle. It holds so many books and weights so little that I find myself always with a wonderful choice of reading material in my bag.
    Happy New Year, and thank you for blogging!

  15. Happy new year Nan
    And thanks for these questions, which I struggle with as well.
    I do find pleasure and reading blogs which are like little autobiographies! Delicious.
    But how to balance.
    Well my career of 30 yrs is on hold now and I'd never be able to blog or read blogs if I was still working or raising my kiddos.
    Thanks for putting into words whatI've been thinking.

  16. Good questions Nan,
    I wish I could add some wise words to this but for me I just do whatever I want when it strikes me at the time. My work, family, and stuff like that do come first but when I find some free time I either read or catch up on blogs. When I feel like I've been bad and not kept up on housework and stuff like that then I just tell myself--hey, get your stuff done so you can go have some fun!!!

  17. Hi Nan,
    I sure know what you mean! My main problem is that reading blogs always snowballs into "more" - more blogs, more books on my to-read list, more recipes, more ideas to try & on & on & on! Then I find myself with a pile of ideas and so little time to actually do them. I'm to the point where I feel overwhelmed by wonderful things, if that is even possible. But I guess that is a good thing?
    The way I'm going to try to handle it this year is to just follow my mood, which is often tied to the seasons (and often to your blog!)

  18. I often find it necessary to put time limits on certain things. This way I get to do quite a few of the things I really enjoy but not to the point of them getting mundane.

  19. Nan, first let me say that I love the new look in your template! Not only is that a great picture in your header (it made me smile the instant I saw it!), but I like the soothing gray and simplicity of the whole thing.

    As to time...I know I don't cook as much as I used to. I also don't read as much as I used to. Blogging has kind of moved up into the center of my 'entertainment' world. While finding balance is nice, I'm letting it reign for awhile, because it's so nice to communicate with fellow book lovers, nature lovers, God lovers. Also, I feel like I'm keeping up with current technology which can so easily escape me if I'm not immersed in it. Let me know if someone has found a way to cook, AND read, AND blog, AND parent, AND do it all. You won't find an answer from me!

    Happy New Year, friend.

  20. I read blogs on my iPhone when I can't sleep, as well as writing my blogs. It's after 3 am as I write this.

  21. Twenty comments!! I'm amazed and more grateful than I can say. I will come back and read them often. Each one has been a little 'life story' and I love them. Thank you all so, so much. I wish we could be in a nice living room or around a big kitchen table and talk in person, but until then, this blogging life will have to do, and it does very well indeed. Thank you again.

  22. I've been enjoying the responses here, too. I should really limit my time but that is hard. The main thing that suffers is the housework and truth be told I don't care much about that anyway. I sort of alternate posting days with commenting days and that works for me. I read blogs less on the weekend and more during the week when I am home alone. I watch tv pretty rarely, though now I have to catch up with Lost, Sigh.

  23. I also love the way the Provincial Lady asks questions and asides and also love her use of Capital Letters as in, I will have to get A Man in to fix the wiring or I spoke to The Boy - very funny and I have picked up this habit myself!

  24. Having had a severe case of burn-out from 60 hour work weeks and trying on the "mythology" that we can do it all... balance is a word I stretch to mean a few things.

    For those of us "empty nesters", retirees or homesters, I sense when there are no pressing places to be etc. that we spend our time in ways that bring happiness or can take us away from some of the stress of today's world.

    My life is in transition, so for now, there is no blog. Perhaps, in time there will be. I enjoy several blogs on a daily basis as well as an everymorning visit to Colonial Williamsburg to do the jigsaw puzzle (yes, avail. everyday including Holidays). It replaces a morning crossword.

    Has reading blogs replaced reading. In the beginning yes, but in time,I sense most of weed out our blog lists and develop a system of everyday, weekend etc.

    I've all but given up tv and rarely use the internet at night. Nights are for reading.

    My time consumer is email. Quite some time ago, I asked everyone to stop sending fwds. I still get some and they do have me sighing and more often than not, I respond to receive more sighs from those who receive. My "eyes are bigger" than my stomach when it comes to newsletters... I am starting to unsubscribe from some.

    Balance can be tricky - can be quirky but, my humble opinion offered is at a certain stage in life, there comes a time when as long as one is enjoying how their time is spent - why measure it?

  25. All good questions...
    My husband wasn't happy at first about the time I spent on my blogging but then when I started mentioning the things I'd learned or seen, he's actually reminding me to get to the computer.

    I haven't read many books in the last 5 months. I used to read a lot. I do want to start reading more again. I've got too many magazines taking up my time. I'll have to organize myself a bit more for 2009.

  26. Just revisiting this question. I like to post daily, but if I feel it is becoming a burden or I have nothing particular to say, then I discipline myself not to switch the laptop on and to take a break.

    I try and limit the time I am also blogging or on the computer else there will be no time to read which seems to contradict the whole idea of a book blog.

    I used to visit every blog going to every link but now I have those I visit regularly and those on which I drop by. There is just so much out there and so many interesting and fascinating things to find on other blogs and hours can pass if one is not careful.

    However, I have met and got to know so many lovely people through the whole blogging process that I will always find time to sit down and write and comment and generally meet up with everyone.

    When you are on the blogs and reading them more than you are reading books then I think one has to be very careful - it is addictive!

  27. Nan I read your questions with much interest. I always have been well organized but since March having an online journal, photography and responding it seems I need to be more organized. I could not have done this when I had a mate, children were home and working. But now at a different stage of life, solo and my interests are simpler, the computer has been a welcome addition to my life. I have so many interest that is unsettling.
    I check emails on getting up in the morning about 6:00. Sometimes respond or wait until after evening meal. My inspiration for subjects to write about seems to come in the night. So many times I had an entry in the morning.
    I am finding this computer world very addictive and my reading must start again. I only watch TV or a special and weather. My goal is to not turn computer on - weekends and do not write on Wednesday. I may run out of subjects by March and then it will have been a 1 year journal. Enough said. But I am amazed with all you do.

  28. must say I chase the same dream.....balance!

    I don't seem to have any sustained pattern regarding blog reading and commenting.

    however, I do get off the computer when I start thinking I've been on too long!

  29. I just want to say to those who have written since I commented that I've read your words with great interest. Thank you so much for writing such heartfelt and illuminating posts.


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