I often read varying points of view on balance. Some say balance is the key to a happy fulfilled life. Others say that if you are balanced you can’t achieve. I believe you can have both. But if you follow the formula below, you will not achieve a static balance. it will be more like the balance on a seesaw where you reach that set of balance with your partner balanced in mid-air. You make minor adjustment and perhaps you get close to the ground in one moment and in the next she has shifted and you are racing to the sky.
Many authors have a test that has you calculate how much time you are devoting to various areas of your life. The idea being that if you can see where your time is spent you can re-balance and gain more fulfillment. So you do the test and calculate how much time you spend on.
Work Family Fitness
Community Spouse Recreation
Spirit Community Etc
My guess is that if you are perfectly balanced, you are bored. When I get captured by a project or a goal I become engaged and time flies. Unless I am very conscious of it, I can neglect other important areas of my life. On the other hand, when I am perfectly balanced I may be content for a while, but maybe not so fulfilled.
On the other side when I have focused so hard in one area of my life and neglected others, I have experienced challenges in relationships, work that was not my best and fatigue. Don’t get me wrong I got the goals I was focused on but some other important areas were affected.
What I’ve learned (Thank you Stephen Covey) is that if I identify the big projects, the important things in each area of my life and then schedule time to address it. I can lead a minimally balanced life and pay attention to all the important things that are in my life. The result is more satisfaction. It requires a plan, a calendar and an alarm.
Each week I sit down and look at the areas I want to pay attention to. Covey calls them roles:
– New Sales
– Community Member
I then identify what tasks which I want t accomplish in order to move forward with my goals in each of these areas. And then I put them in the calendar. Here is the secret. When I have the discipline to manage my time according to the way I planned it, I achieve balance and goals and I feel better.
What challenges this is that I can get caught up on a project and I’ll decide that, “you know, I really don’t have time for the gym.” Or, I get an unexpected call with a project that I had not planned for but that does need to get done. Then I have to decide what stays and what goes.
So I set Alarms for the really big rocks, I am constantly looking at my calendar to see what is coming up and where am I in relation to upcoming goals, do I need to schedule some time for that. And then when the alarm goes off I re-evaluate where I am in terms of the goals, tasks and big rocks.
I am experimenting now with managing energy versus time. Not the woo woo energy but my personal energy. Tony Schwartz has done some good work studying how we can achieve more in less time when we manage our energy. He posits that by working in 90-minute increments and then taking a break we can come back refreshed, focused and more productive. So it might look like 90 minutes on the consulting report and then stand up while returning phone calls. This might be followed by clearing the email box and then lunch. In the afternoon it might be meetings followed by the gym and then dinner and studying.
In his book, The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working, Tony reports on his own experiments and how in writing four hours a day versus eight hours a day he got more done and of a higher quality. So far this seems to have some veracity. When I block 90 – minutes for cold calls followed by ten push-ups and then clearing my email box I feel better and seem more productive.
Getting the important things done requires discipline, and flexibility. The teeter totter is always in motion.