Editing Life: Commitments

Editing Life: Commitments

We all have multiple demands on our time. Some of these we choose, and some are thrust upon us. Some of them we choose; some we are asked to do, and some creep up on us through insidious means.
This time of pandemic has been a good time for examining our commitments. With many of our after-hours activities canceled, we now have the free time to examine those activities that had been taking up our time.

Please note that removing commitments is seldom permanent. Just because I have let something go now does not mean I can’t do it in the future.

I’ve had pretty much all of my evening activities stop. The choir is not working together right now, and the quartet I sing with is recording parts separately, to have them mixed by our music director. Girl Scouts have been canceled for the year. The committees I sit on, meetings I attend and things like church services are now done online.

So why edit the commitments? Because eventually we are going to get to a point where we can be face-to-face, and these things will try to restart. The question is, do you want to restart them?

Assessing Your Commitments

The first step in figuring out what will resume involves understanding what all of your current commitments are. This involves two phases: commitments involving active interactions with other people, and solo or participant-only activities. The difference between the two being whether the group can function without me there.

I start the list with the active interactions:

  • Girl Scout leader
  • Quartet member
  • Choir member
  • Church musician
  • Co-coordinator of a special interest group at church

Solo or participant-only activities:

  • Worship services committee member
  • Blogging – Laura Earnest
  • Blogging – other blogs
  • Writing novels
  • Technology meetings
  • Attending church
  • Attending non-Sunday church gatherings

Assessing the Commitment

Next I want to make sure that these commitments are ones that serve me and that I make a difference with. By evaluating this, I can decide if I want to continue, or if I want to abandon them.

  • Girl Scout leader. As of this week, my girls have graduated from high school. This commitment, with the exception of the bridging to adult ceremony later this summer, will vanish on its own.
  • Quartet member. Our commitment to perform went from once a month to once a quarter before the pandemic. Now we don’t rehearse together, we record separately and the music director mixes the results. I enjoy the people I sing with, and will continue with this in whatever form, as long as the performance level doesn’t go back up.
  • Choir member. I like our choir director, but am frustrated with the level of music we are singing. As one of the few swing soprano-altos, I know I am needed to fill in missing parts. The choir time also serves as a regular social outlet for me. I will re-evaluate my commitment to this group when we return to face-to-face.
  • Working musician. I don’t enjoy playing much anymore, and the stress of the performances is hard for me to manage. As much as people say it’s a shame for me not to share my talents, they are my talents, and I can share if I choose to. For now I will put this aside.
  • Co-coordinator of a special interest group. This group has grown in the last few years, but I have been coordinating for over ten. Unfortunately, other leaders need to be grown from within the group, and this will take time. My co-coordinator recently left, and I have had to turn over many of the functions I no longer want to do, such as the paperwork, dealing with social media, and running the monthly discussion groups. I am retaining the coordination of the semi-quarterly events as I train others to run them.
  • Worship services committee member. I don’t believe I contribute much to this group, other than being the only one of my age range on the committee (everyone else is older and retired). I will re-evaluate my level of commitment once we go back to face-to-face, but right now an hour Zoom meeting every month is do-able.
  • Blogging – Laura Earnest. I’ve already re-evaluated my level of effort over the past few years, and I feel I am at a manageable level.
  • Blogging – other blogs. I have two personal blogs, one for pictures and such, and one for quick little thoughts that aren’t topically relevant for this blog. The picture one is going away, as my daughter is now leaving high school, and the other one is a good outlet for me. So the one will remain static, and the other with two articles a month. Or not.
  • Writing novels. Having completed my first novel and sent it to the beta readers, I am excited and enthused about doing more. Now that I have a system that has worked, I feel more confident in how to do it. I will continue to do this, and aim for finishing a novel every November.
  • Technology meetings. These meetings, while helpful to what I do for a living, often over-promise and under-deliver. They also usually conflict with choir rehearsals. I think I will continue to attend only if there is a spectacularly relevant topic, and then only if the speaker is one who is known for delivering value.
  • Attending church. For a couple of years I had to be at church every week because I was on stage every week. Then the music director committed to giving me a week off every month. Now he is OK with two weeks off a month, even if that means I don’t sing with the choir one of those weeks. I like attending church, but I also like the freedom of being able to choose. So this summer I will continue to exercise that choice, and re-evaluate in the fall. (Our church is not set to re-open to in-person until September, and it may be longer than that)
  • Attending non-Sunday church gatherings. My church has a lot of non-church activities that go on there. I’ve attended the craft group, coffee houses, art openings, concerts and more. I’ve been asked to attend grounds parties, discussions, potlucks, craft fairs and such. For the most part, I don’t enjoy these activities. I’d rather craft with my best friends, and the rest, well, I’d rather stay at home. ๐Ÿ™‚

A few years ago I had many more commitments and jettisoned them all. (It sounds extreme, but it was very freeing). I don’t want to

Going Forward

Now that I know what I am committed to, and have identified a few things to go, and a few things to re-evaluate, I feel like I am in a good place to move forward with my commitments.

It was a good exercise to go through – I hadn’t really realized that one of the blogs would cease, and that I am really not contributing anything to the worship services. I also hadn’t realized how much I had been dragged into doing things at the church that I really am getting nothing out of.

I can also be very deliberate in picking new activities to add in. This will help keep my schedule freed, and allow me to continue to enjoy the free time I currently have.

Over To You

What are your current commitments? What do you have on hold due to the pandemic? What are you willing to give up or keep? Take a look at your commitments this week and see what you will keep or adjust moving forward.