No sacred cows

This Christmas holiday, I haven’t written a post about how we celebrated Christmas or reflecting back on the year just past, other than a little link piece to my favourite posts from each month of the yearRather than looking back on 2013 in detail, I’m (mostly) looking forward to what’s to come in 2014.

That was the year that was

Basically, my 2013 in summary: set up new TV blog, started podcasting, nine-day stretch as a single father-of-two, three holidays, getting paid to write for a newspaper website, kids growing at a pace which seems to outstrip the actual passage of time, agreed to a new job.

As for Christmas, I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice to say we spent time with family and friends, ate too much food and opened many presents. And I took the kids out to coffee shops a lot. Just for a change.

What do you mean, I was supposed to share this with you, Daddy?

What do you mean, I was supposed to share this with you, Daddy?

The one thing I will say is that the best thing that happened was seeing the looks on the kids’ faces when they came downstairs on Christmas Day – at 5:30am! – and saw all the presents around the tree. If you can imagine a cartoon character reaction of their eyes popping out on stalks and then jumping so high in the air they leave a body-shaped hole in the ceiling, that’s pretty much it. It was just a fleeting moment, but it made all the effort and stress worthwhile. Well, almost.

With the unusual luxury of having a full two weeks off work, I have of course managed to achieve virtually nothing other than constantly running around keeping the kids entertained and fiddling with screwdrivers to replace the batteries in a variety of toys. (The day someone invents the self-charging/self-replacing battery will be one celebrated by millions of parents for time immemorial.)

I do feel like I’ve had the opportunity to recharge my own batteries, though, despite a cold and my traditional Christmas sugar level spike (not a good thing when you’re a diabetic) which left me washed out for several days afterwards.

By my standards the holiday season has been relatively quiet on the blogging front, but even so over the past 15 days I have written 15 posts, edited half a dozen more and started some hefty redesign work. Add together writing, editing, admin and promotional time, and I’ve still been averaging 12-15 hours a week on, yes, something I love doing but which, even with my new paid writing role, still earns me the square root of only-slightly-more-than-bugger-all.

Kill those cows!

And that’s the challenge for me for 2014. I start my new, bigger and more time-consuming job next week. My duties as a father – parent, educator, chauffeur, nappy changer, assistant to a Lego/train track/electrical circuit master builder, all that good stuff – are growing in more areas than they are reducing. I already average about six hours sleep a night. Something has to give, preferably not my sanity.

So that’s my one New Year’s resolution, the first real one I’ve made for at least ten years: declutter. Rebalance my life so that I can be as good at work and as a dad/husband as I can possibly be, and still have time to enjoy the outlet of blogging.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? But, deep down, I know it really won’t be, as it means I will have to make some significant changes if it’s going to work. I simply cannot continue to do everything I’ve been doing previously. It’s time to start working out what I’m going to do less of, or even stop doing altogether. There can be no sacred cows. Or cows of any description, come to think of it (unless they’re on a plate and medium-rare).

Less, as they say, is more. Unless it’s a steak, of course. Mmm, steak …

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6 thoughts on “No sacred cows

  1. Decluttering is a great idea, the catch is how to get it implemented without feeling like you’ve made a bigger mess than you had to start. If you figure it out, let me know. It’s something I need to do as well.

    • I’m focussing on trying to achieve some changes within 12 weeks, rather than a vaguer 12 months. The plan is to do less of certain things – possibly even stop doing them altogether – to free up time I need to devote to (a) family, (b) work or (c) potentially something new. In the past I’ve made vague commitments about changing this or starting that, which inevitably ends up with me trying to do more stuff in the same amount of time. It’s never worked. So I’m starting with my blogging activity – currently an estimated 15+ hours a week – which is something I can exert some tangible control over and where I can quantify my results. I’ll see how it goes.

    • I’ve fallen into this trap before, of just ending up with more things I need to try to do. The point is to make the list shorter – or to stop doing things that aren’t on the list that are things I just do as a matter of routine, not because I really need to. So I need to be really clear about what it is I’m trying to do (something I often struggle with) and then be ruthless about eliminating things that are nice-to-do or just low priority.

  2. I love starting a new year and the opportunity to get organized. Decluttering is a great idea. I need to be better at doing this on a daily basis so I don’t get overwhelmed.

    • I’ve stopped doing a couple of small things already and found I don’t miss them at all. It’s like a couple of small weights have been lifted off my shoulders – two fewer things to worry about on my weekly blogging to-do list. So far, so good.

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