Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Overscheduled Reader Needs a Break

DEAR HARRIETTE: I think I am doing too many things. I work out, I work, I attend college, I have homework and I hold a position in leadership in my church. I feel like I am wearing myself thin. I wake up tired, and I go to sleep exhausted. I need help managing my life because I would like to take a minute to refresh myself. Do you have any suggestions? -- Need a Boost, Chicago

DEAR NEED A BOOST: Get a monthly calendar -- preferably a paper one -- and fill in all of your deadlines and responsibilities that can be time-stamped. Now, write down all of the rest of your duties week by week. Notice the rhythm of your schedule and look for spaces, even a half hour here and there, where you are not already booked.

Next, in the free spaces, write things like "Take a nap," or "Go to the gym," or "Drink water," or "Call a friend." The point is that you must schedule in fun and relaxation or it will never happen.

You may also need to revise your schedule. If you are doing too much over an extended period with not enough rejuvenation time, you may have to cut back on something. When you have midterms, for example, you may want to ask someone else to fill your role at church. Look for ways to strike a balance and know that this is an ongoing process.

DEAR HARRIETTE: Another option for "Holding On" in Jackson, Miss., whose husband wants her to cancel the cable so they can pay the mortgage is to try the local library. As well as having thousands of wonderful books, most public libraries have a large selection of DVDs that you can take out with your library card for FREE! They have fairly recent ones as well as classics. Good luck! -- Been There, Done That, Washington, D.C.

DEAR BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: Thank you for your affordable and classic idea. In this day and age of being overwhelmed sometimes by technology, many people forget the public library system. It is a tremendous resource for people of all ages. And you are right -- it is possible to provide a wide variety of entertainment for yourself and your family at no additional cost if you utilize this valuable community resource.

I do want to point out to anyone who is in the space that Holding On was dealing with, namely not having enough money to pay bills and not being willing to cut off pleasure. Getting creative about pleasure is important. More important, though, is getting serious and possibly creative about paying your debts. Escaping through pleasurable outlets, whether free or for a fee, can be a distraction when paying attention to real debt, and finding a way to reduce it should be top of mind.