The Printable CEO VIII: Day Grid Balancer

From the 2009 Archives Productivity #HABITS 37 Comments

Day Grid Balancer
(the official page for the Day Grid Balancer is http://davidseah.com/pceo/dgb)

If you’re just joining the conversation, I’ve been thinking a lot about work-life balance the past / few / days. I really suck at work-life balance, and have started to crave some way of visually representing the essential elements of a good day.

Although everyone will have a different definition of what “balance” means, and that definition will shift over time, that didn’t stop me from trying to make a paper-tracking form to try out this week. I want to drink of the sweet, sweet well of satisfying work-life balance! I’m also feeling a bit impatient about finally getting me some of that balance, hence the title at the top of the form ;-)

This is a draft in progress, so you may want to check back in the future to see what’s changed. The official page URL will always point to the most recent version. If you’re the curious and creative type, however, please read on!

The Day Grid Balancer

Day Grid Balancer Page
For my initial pass, I created a single sheet of paper to act as the focus of your day throughout the entire week. It’s really just a glorified to-do list, designed around the idea of noting when you’re doing the kind of things that you’d like to be doing every day. By the end of the week, you should get an idea of whether or not you were successful. Since it’s a single sheet, you can keep it on a handy clip-board and carry it around with you.

Unlike some of my other forms, The Day Grid Balancer is not intended to track time very accurately. You can use the various grid boxes, as I’ve described them in the earlier 24 boxes and asymmetric grids post, to note when you spend an hour doing something that seems to fit in the balance diagram. Or you could put a checkmark in it to mark something as “done”, or use a “bowling frame style” / and X to mark half-hour and full hour.

Suggested methodology:

  1. Start the week by writing down what you want to do in the beginning of the week in the upper-right part of the form. There’s a space for up to three critical things you’d like to get done (these are borrowed from the Emergent Task Planner) that require concentration in measured blocks of time. I’d start just by listing one, if I had to choose just one out of the dozens of things I wish were done. If there isn’t anything you need to list, just leave this part blank.

  2. As the week goes on, add the inevitable tasks that crop up that you haven’t yet scheduled.

  3. For each day of the week, write down the stuff that you got done. You can pick them from the list you’re keeping in the upper-right part of the page, or you can just pencil in stuff as it happens; the list is really just for your convenience. Cross out stuff you get done from the list so you don’t have to worry about it.

  4. You can also schedule events for each day of the week, as needed.

  5. As you get particular tasks done, fill in a block that corresponds roughly to the part of the balance grid. If a particular task happens to accomplish both, then fill two of ‘em in.

  6. At the end of the week, see how it went. As you revisit what you got done, this will help you remember how that day went. You can then choose to do a week review and fill out another sheet for the coming week that attempts to make corrective action,.

The balance grid was designed to represent hours originally, breaking the day into 24 hours split into equal parts sleep, productive work, and personal time. This is based roughly on the idea that for my own needs, I need to do at least 4 hours of billable work a day. Another 4 hours of that ends up being business support, and the rest of the time is eating and household management and sleep.

Download the Form

» Download the Day Grid Balancer Public Draft 01 (PDF, requires Adobe Acrobat)

Everyone is different, of course, so this balance probably won’t work for a lot of people…hence, I’m making the source files available so y’all can make your own custom versions.

Modifying the Form

I’m releasing this version under Creative Commons A-NC-SA license, which means that the source code for this specific file is now free to remix for non-commercial applications, so long as you share what you’ve done and keep my name and link information intact.

This is the first time I’m trying a Creative Commons license, so I have no idea what will happen. In my imagined best-case scenario, a whole bunch of people refine and remix the elements in here and create new things, and email me their creations so I can share them here on this page. We’ll see how it goes!

Creative Commons LicenseThe Day Grid Balancer by David Seah is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Based on a work at davidseah.com.

I’m providing two mash-up friendly file formats. NOTE: this version isn’t updated every year like this version.

  • If you’ve got Adobe Illustrator CS3 and above, here’s the » Editable PDF «. You can open it up in Adobe Illustrator and all the groups and vectors will be intact. I’m using fonts from the Helvetica Neue family, so if you do not have these fonts you will have to license them or change them to something you have. Do not ask me to email you fonts; fonts are copyrighted media and need to be licensed from a place like this.

  • If you don’t have Illustrator, you can download the » PNG bitmap « (8-bit with transparency to help with compositing) that can be opened in a paint program. If you have Adobe Photoshop or The GIMP or some equivalent program, this version should work for you fine. However, if you have Photoshop, you can also rasterize your own bitmaps by opening the PDF directly.

Foundational and Followup articles

If you’re interested in reading about the design process that lead up to this form, these links may interest you:

This was followed by the first release (this page, which you’re reading now). Subsequent followup tweaks are here:

  • Assessment 1 notes the issues that I and others came upon with this draft. Excellent comments from readers!
  • Draft 2 takes feedback into account and floats a new idea for a “figure rhythm” type of diagram for tracking the week. I have mixed feelings about it, but progress continues!

Enjoy!