(last edited on September 20, 2014 at 3:45 pm)
It’s been a week since I first started trying the new day grid balancer form, and in practice I found that it didn’t quite mesh well with my expectations. Partly this may be due to the long weekend and the surprise visit of one of my best friends, which meant that I didn’t adhere to the daily schedule I’m striving to put into place. Even when factoring that in, I think I can still say with confidence that there are several aspects I didn’t like about the form:
- Filling out the little day balance grid was confusing because my categories didn’t quite fit what I was really doing. They are not named quite right, even for me.
- I wasn’t quite clear on what kind of things I should list. In hindsight I see I was mixing up several categories of task: things I want to “make time” to do, scheduled meetings, and ongoing projects. The sheet is also a little cramped for writing any more than a few words per item, though perhaps this is a good thing.
- I had a tendency to just want to use the day balance grid to just check things off to try to complete the figure, instead of noting time.
In short, I wasn’t very clear myself on how I wanted to use the form, and this might also be due to imprecise expectations. On the other hand, I also knew that the first week run was unlikely to be quite right, which is why I’m doing this review. There were some useful insights:
- There’s something kind of fun about the day balance grid that I like. People have commented it reminds them of Tetris® in its shapes, and perhaps that gives rise to the expectation of fun.
- Merely checking off a box does make me aware of the other areas I could be balancing, which I think is a good thing. The current design of the sheet, however, doesn’t leverage this very powerfully. Perhaps a single larger diagram is the way to go.
- Having notes on what I did every day to achieve balance is very helpful in remembering what I did.
- My mindset was that of achieving balance through completion, not through doing. This may be because I feel I am bootstrapping a lot of projects to get new work lined up, and I perceive a long sequence of intermediate steps that will take time to complete. In other words, I’m “finish fixated”.
That last point regarding completing versus doing is somewhat subtle; I’m thinking that some actions are inherently good because it is about the time spent in the process itself, and other actions are good because they “finish” something that needed finishing. For example, I’m told that fishing is quite relaxing, and that it is not about actually catching a fish and (as I used to presume) getting to eat it. If one is results-focused, then spending lots of time fishing and not catching any fish would be a big waste of time. However, for someone who enjoys the experience of fishing itself, the entire point is to be immersed in the pleasure of the activity itself.
So there are at least two elements of balance that I should be considering:
- Maintaining a healthy variety of achievements, which lead to balance of multiple prerequisites for security and happiness. This the working assumption behind the design of the current form.
- Remembering to engage in both immersive and results-oriented experiences. This is a distinction that is probably important to note.
So what should this form even do?
And even more important is to decide exactly what this form delivers. I’m not really sure yet. If I look inward to see what it is that’s really on my mind, it’s that I transform myself into a higher-performing version of myself so I can get my languishing projects done. Just about all these projects are related to either creating new business machinery or creating new ways of interacting with people en masse, which is also beneficial to me. The net result I expect from completion of these projects is more opportunity, both financially and socially.
So why even worry about balance when there’s so much to do? The assumption I am testing is whether balance leads to consistent productivity. My gut says that this is part of it, and I keep coming across mentions on other blogs and books that seem to confirm this. Consistent productivity in my case is a matter of maintaining consistent momentum and motivation. I know certain activities inspire and energize me, and I know others drain me. When I am not getting things done AND not constantly exposed people energy pre-mixed with optimism, my motivation wanes.
If I leave this balance issue up to chance, then it’s pretty likely that I’ll have inconsistent days of productivity. This may actually be an acceptable choice, but I am also feeling that time is short and I need to get my ass in gear. Hence, the creation of a new form to help me track what I’m doing and improve my mindfulness. Improving mindfulness is, perhaps, the main point behind this form.
I’ll probably take a second pass at this in the coming week. I’m also very curious about other people’s experiences using the form. Feel free to leave a comment, and I’ll try to address the feedback as much as possible in the second draft.