While I'm writing this post, my head is in precisely 52 different places at once. My wedding is in less than two weeks, and between that, my day job, the literary journal my maid of honor and I founded, and the host of engagements to which I'm promised, I'm now keenly aware of the fact that I may have bitten off more than I can chew.
But here's the thing: I love my day job. Working on a digital publication with freelance writers and learning the ins and outs of digital marketing—not to mention my coworkers, who I love in a very real way—is a dream come true. I love my journal, and the fact that my closest friend and I have brought it so far and continue to evolve it together. I love each social engagement, every invite, and, above all, I love that soon, my family and many of my good friends will gather to celebrate as I marry my best friend.
I don't want any balls to drop here. These things matter—and many of them will be in my life long after my wedding day.
Don't be fooled: there's no way to really perfect the art of juggling—at least, not where untameable things like people, love, and passion are concerned. But from where I started to where I am now, I've been able to figure out a system that mostly works. Here's how I've been getting it all done:
1. I Made a Killer To-Do List.
Actually, two: one with my big, long term goals—six months out or so—and one for the day. I don’t feel any pressure to order my list items; rather, I just dump my entire brain out onto the page. (If you’re especially anxious, as I tend to be, you can imagine how cathartic this is.)
On my long-term list, I’ve included everything from my wedding shower through my honeymoon, with every little step I can think of in between—plus a few long-term goals for additional projects.
On my daily to-do list, I combine all the things I need to accomplish that day with smaller tasks I can accomplish that help me chip away at my long-term goals. Anything from editing my stories for the day to phone calls to wedding vendors or Etsy searches for cute decor, I write it down here.
2. I prioritize.
Once I know everything I want to get done in a given day, I start ordering my list from least- to most-urgent item. Understandably, everyone has their own definition of “urgent”—for me, I use a tiered system that includes things I have to prioritize for work first (barring important health-related items), wedding second, and personal a close third.
3. I get by with a little help from my friends.
I’m really lucky. Between my amazing matron of honor, my devoted husband-to-be, my awesome colleagues and my family that is just so thrilled that I didn’t run off and elope (a real fear for all of them), I’ve got tons of helping hands at the ready. That means if I run into a time crunch and I need some help, say, figuring out transportation for our guests from their hotel to the wedding, or creating place cards, I always have a teammate who is willing to pick up the slack and support me. While it kills me to ask for help, one thing I’ve learned is that it’s okay to ask for help, as long as you’re there to give help in return. You’d be surprised how much you’ll appreciate having someone to make an occasional phone call for you.
4. I use my seconds.
I cannot stress this one enough. When I need to get through a few one-off tasks in a day, but can barely find time to get up out of my seat to grab a glass of water, I try to get more cognizant of my time and adjust my behavior to fit more projects in. For example: I try to take a lunch break most days at work and get in a quick workout at the gym. As I’m walking the 5 minutes from my office ot my gym, I make wedding-related phone calls. It takes me two minutes at most to find out the answers to little questions, such as, “Can I schedule my rehearsal dinner for 7:30 pm?” or “What day should I bring my placecards to the venue?”—and I feel super accomplished as I head into my workout.
5. I breathe, and accept the weird things that get thrown my way.
Don’t get me wrong: I love love, I really like weddings, and I’m very excited for mine. But the wedding industry is, at times, kind of a racket. You go into a situation with a set budget and a very simple, elegant vision in mind, and suddenly you’re paying a few thousand extra dollars for horse-and-buggy rides for all your guests.
Many well-intentioned wedding-industry professionals want your day to be absolutely perfect, which is something I so appreciate about them. But I learned early that the things I want out of my wedding aren’t necessarily always perfect. I’m going to be okay if it rains on my wedding. That’s out of my control. And if one of my wedding decorations comes in and it’s too small, or too big, or if one of my bridesmaids decides to dye her hair pink for the wedding, or I’m missing something borrowed—it’s okay. To me, what matters is that my fiancé and I end up married, and sneak in a dance or two before the night ends. By realizing that I didn’t have to sweat the small stuff, I’m able to focus on the big things that really need to get done, and don’t hold myself up with worry. (Not to mention how much money I tell myself I’m saving!)
6. I laugh. A lot.
There’s not a lot to say here, but it’s an important one: no matter what, I try to find something funny in every day. If you can’t get silly during these major life moments, they can lose meaning—and there’s nothing good about that!
7. I take downtime.
Even if I have to schedule it in my planner or turn down plans, I prioritize lazy time where I can just watch television, nap, or play games with my fiancé without having to worry about anything else. When it’s scheduled, I don’t waste energy feeling guilty about all the work I’m not doing. I rest for rest’s sake and know that when the time’s done, I’ll get right back to finishing things up.
8. I talk things out.
This was a tough one for me to learn—especially because I’m a major internalizer. Whether I’m stressed or I’m over the moon, I tend to keep things mostly to myself. Now I’ve come to realize that some of that internalizing is causing me to dwell on moments and waste time I could be using productively. When I have an issue I can’t resolve alone, I reach out to someone in my life who has a few minutes to spare and ask if we can talk things out. By returning to normalcy and talking through things in my life, I find that I’m able to achieve peace faster and get back to doing what I need to do.
9. I trust others to make decisions on my behalf.
I have an amazing wedding party full of people I would trust with my life. So when it comes to decisions I don’t have the mental capacity to handle, I’ve learned to trust them to take the reins and ask me questions if they get stuck. My bridesmaids all chose their own dresses for our wedding, and I have to say, they all look gorgeous! Not to mention they planned an incredible bachelorette party for me without needing me to make the major decisions or plan every last detail. That’s not to say I am uninvolved completely—I’d never ask someone to do something for me without being there to help. But being able to trust people to do things they’re great at, and knowing they’ll ask if they need support, has allowed me to turn my attention to things that only I can handle.
10. I make time for all my non-wedding projects.
In just a few short weeks, I’ll be a married woman who’s desperately trying to get ahead on work before her honeymoon. The wedding is one magical day in a lifetime of magical days that are full of time spent with my new family, taking on new career challenges, and pursuing all the side projects that I’ve loved since my days as a single woman in the world. Early on in the wedding-planning process, I realized that I have two choices: devote every second to my wedding and be faced with a mountain of work when I come back, or strike a balance so that when I come back, my projects have been running smoothly. Wedding planning should never feel as daunting as work—after all, it’s a giant party to celebrate the love of two humans, and that’s pretty cool—and part of me thinks that this balance has helped me appreciate the time I can devote to it.
Well, I should probably take my own advice and get back to planning. But before I go, I’d love to know how you find balance in your everyday life. What tips and mentalities get you through your busiest times? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Linsey J. Morse is the Content Standard Editor and Cofounding Editor-in-Chief of Spry Literary Journal. Past lives include: Poetry Editor for Mason's Road, Student Editor for the Bryant Literary Review. Previously written work has appeared in such publications as Now What: The Creative Writer's Guide to Success After the MFA; future work includes Idle Jive, a poetry collection in progress.