This is it. I am officially declaring bandwidth bankruptcy.[For our purposes, “bandwidth” = “my ongoing, finite capacity of time and energy.”]
Effectively, I have failed to balance my time and energy budget for at least the last year, probably longer.
A little over a month ago, I agreed to take on a pro-bono web project for my church’s counseling ministry. My pastor asked me, very sincerely,
“How do you know that you’ll have the time to do this?”
I was sort of stumped by the question for a moment, and then I responded “Well, last fall I was taking college classes two hours two nights a week. So I can work this project in during those times.”
I was ignoring that those two college classes didn’t actually fit into my time and energy capacity, either. I got an incomplete in my public speaking class, ironically because I was travelling too much on business to do public speaking to meet the attendance requirement.
So, probably not surprisingly, I have not made a lot of progress on the project that was supposed to theoretically fit in the slot vacated by something that didn’t actually fit, either.
I think it’s time to stop the insanity, friends.
Planning your bandwidth budget is a lot like planning your financial budget (not that I have a fabulous track record with that, either). You can’t realistically and honestly budget it till you know how much you really have available. And you can’t know that if you’ve been running at a constant deficit for as long as you can remember.
When the criteria for how you spend your time and energy is “what fire needs dousing worst?” it’s exactly like when your criteria for budgeting your money is “pay whatever is about to be shut-off/foreclosed/repossessed.” Which is not a fun place to live.
And I’ve been in both places a lot, so there’s no judgment here. I’m a pilgrim on the journey like everyone else. If you’re looking for a guide or a guru, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I’m happy to walk alongside you.
A little parable one of my mentors shared with me several years ago talked about time/bandwidth as a jar, and the things you wanted to do as rocks (the most important stuff), pebbles, sand and water (the little stuff). You have to figure out what’s a rock, what’s a pebble, what’s sand and what’s water. You start with an empty jar and the rocks, work your way down, and what fits, fits.
Next week, I go on vacation. For a whole week. Nine days of uninterrupted unscheduled time.
It could be the greatest thing ever. I could go completely bonkers two days in. Hard to say.
I’ll let you know how it goes.