24 Boxes and Asymmetric Grids

Grids My quest for work-life balance continues this week as I continue to ramp up on personal projects while stirring the business development pot. Although I’m not quite sure exactly what I want to balance, I do know that there are general categories that have contributed to my sense of well-being in the past. So, starting from the basic idea that I need four hours of billable work a day, I made a list of the other things that help me feel centered:

  • productive work by myself
  • productive communication with creative, positive people
  • making sure that the crap isn’t piling up at home
  • putting time into health and the gym
  • adequate sleep

There’s a purposeful resemblance to something I read about 5 contributors to happiness via my friend Senia, which are:

  1. sleep
  2. exercise
  3. nutrition
  4. incremental actions
  5. alone vs. social time balance

Thoughts The tracker form that’s developing in my mind is based around all these principles, and what I’d like to have is some kind of nice weekly form that will both show me at a glance and remind me what the work-life balance should be. I’ve also been liking the idea of using the asymmetric grids I mentioned last week, so this morning I had a chance to make a first pass at what it might look like over my morning Starbucks.

Asymmetric Grid DR01 The basic idea is to have a kind of three-part stack of boxes, with room for overflow. The names and assignments of the categories are preliminary, so I’m open to suggestions on this. Here’s what I have so far:

  • The bottom stack is sleep. For me, I like to get 8 hours, though sometimes I sleep a bit more. Without adequate sleep, the rest of my day is kind of hosed, so that’s why I put it on the bottom as a foundation for the rest of the activities.

  • The center stack are core maintenance. The home category covers stuff like cleaning, dishes, laundry, doing bills, and other responsible things that we should be doing for ourselves. It’s on the left, because I think of this as “left-brained” pragmatic thinking. The arrangement is a kind of little box, and there’s a couple more boxes available for overflow. The center, which about heart or happiness, are for things that you do that make the day worthwhile. Maybe everything you do makes you happy, but I put the box here anyway to remind me that this is the point, to find a center of joy somewhere in the rest of what you do. On the right side are health type things. This is more about taking care of yourself, and under this I would include feeling and romance. It’s that L-shape because it kind of is an encompassing gesture around the heart, and it’s more open than the closed-up logical side. Plus, this introduces an asymmetry that helps break up the grid further, providing some eye relief that a straight grid design would not generate. You may notice that this center grid is offset from the top and bottom slightly to, to further create some visual interest.

  • The top stack is about making stuff. For me, that’s creating–the four boxes at the top are the four billable hours I want to seek. The two supporting elements on either side are for conversation, which is the creative dialog that’s important to me. It’s split in two to accentuate the idea that there are two people in a conversation, plus it creates a kind of neat super robot head shape. The whole stack is reminiscent of a giant Japanese robot comprised of smaller ships, combining in different ways.

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p>Some other subtleties are the provision of extra boxes, because sometimes you’ll spend more than the “ideal” number of hours. The stack of boxes is vaguely humanoid in shape, as I mentioned, to make it a little more personable in a way that a pile of boxes are not. There are also actually 26 boxes, because the two in the middle are extra. Maybe these will be bonus boxes when you do something that feels particularly awesome, a kind of bull’s eye.

When I get a chance later this week I’ll put together the rest of the worksheet, which I’m thinking may resemble a marriage of the Concrete Goals Tracker and the Emergent Task Planner. In the meantime, work beckons!