Day Grid Balancer: Draft 2 Progress

Day Grid Balancer: Draft 2 Progress

Week Grid Diagram I’ve been redesigning the prototype Day Grid Balancer based on the excellent feedback on draft 1. The overall consensus was that while the color and grid were very playful and attractive, their use as a day-to-day tool was limited. And confusing, because my categories don’t line up with other people’s categories. What seemed to work, though, was the idea of weekly balance. I guess the name of the form will have to change eventually, but the implication for right now is that this creates a LOT OF ROOM to play with on the left-hand side.

I was thinking of biorhythms, DNA spirals, and other patterns, so I drafted a version of the balance grid that, well, is kind of a mess but might give y’all some ideas in brainstorming an approach to make the thing work. I think there needs to be some kind of auxiliary marking within the grid itself, and some obvious place to leave notes, but I haven’t gotten that far ahead. I’m planning on printing this out and just scribbling it on it sometime to see if anything pops up.

Thoughts? Here’s a editable PDF file to play with, saved with Adobe Illustrator CS3. Creative Commons license applies, as before.


  1. CricketB 15 years ago

    That looks like a grid after it’s been used. It shows that some days, some categories get more time than others, and some days are plain more productive.

    Does anyone else find that if you see an empty day on the calendar, and are in an awesome, productive mood, and really look forward to checking a lot off the list tomorrow, you end up not sleeping that night?

  2. Tanya Steinberg 15 years ago

    Looking at the new day grid balancer I was struck with an inspiration. I’m a big fan of personal growth/development as well as balance. I thought of a book I read recently on personal development by Steve Pavlina. I thought Habits, Career, Money, Health, Relationships and Spirituality would be good building blocks for a solid and balanced foundation.

  3. Dave Seah 15 years ago

    Cricket: I used to feel that way about the Concrete Goal Tracker. You know, I wonder if the gaps in the days you aren’t balancing are a good feedback incentive…should probably move back to the a middle ground.

    Tanya: That’s a cool idea. I wonder how to make them more concrete, though? I think there needs to be a second level of detail (guides, perhaps, for actionable things that contribute there). Perhaps we need to approach the design first from a very specific perspective.

    Overall, I’m thinking that the approach I need to take next is actually to strap on a “fine arts” approach and start drawing. Had this insight recently at a buddy’s photo studio, when we were talking about how making art can be scary. In this case, I think making art needs to explore and come to some kind of central visual theme.

  4. CricketB 15 years ago

    “The only purpose of a first draft is to have a second draft, not to struggle to get it perfect the first time around.”—Jane Lebak

    I was going to make a case for each category needing to balance over a different period, and concentrating on one category at a retreat, but realized I usually think about tasks grouped by frequency and type of energy of the task rather than life balance. Okay, this is the third day in a row that Yoga has come up. Off to write letter about their fall schedule.

  5. Spirilla 15 years ago

    I like the new one better, it pulses and breathes

    This might not be very relevant but this year I decided to abruptly simplfy my life and I decided that all my life can be boiled down to 3 areas interconnecting one another: *work* (this means the creative part of it, but also the administrative part of it), *relationships* with family, friends etc. and then *body*, which means all time dedicated to my body, be it a manicure or a work out. The balance I’m trying to conquer has just 3 sides. In a way I feel that I don’t need all the boxes you put in your grid, I’d much rather like a “minimum requirement balance” contemplating the ideal of at least 2 hours writing for work every day, some quality time dedicated to developing relationships every day and then 30’ dedicated to my body. This would be very basic, but I like its straightforwardness.

  6. Amanda Pingel 15 years ago

    I LOVE IT!

    Now I’m going to go actually look at it.  I’ve only looked at the picture on the top of the page.

  7. katrina 15 years ago

    This is definitely sufficiently wacky that it might just shake something loose!

    I have continued with my improved index card, but this looks very promising.  I like how willing you are to have fun with this exploration.

    more later …

  8. john ballantrae 15 years ago

    Dear David:

    I made you a twelve-minute video.

  9. Dave Seah 15 years ago

    Cricket: LOL, you can make your own version to satisfy that need :-) One thing I’m interested in uncovering is what the simplest possible structure will yield the necessary insight. I think there may be some minimum element that will be so powerful that it doesn’t need all the other metrics, but we’ll see. The three critical areas might be “progressive completion”, “logging”, and “reflection” overall, but the specific manifestation is unclear.

    Spirilla: Maybe it’s worth compiling a list of all kinds of things people want to balance at this point. I’ll have to go back through the comments and see!

    Amanda: :)

    Katrina: Yes, sufficient wackiness is often necessary. My favorite design seems to spring from a tension between the preposterous and the sublime :-)

    John: Awesome!!! The video stops playing for me, sadly, some time in the beginning as you are starting to deal the cards. Will try to download the FLV.

  10. john ballantrae 15 years ago

    The video ought to have worked, but I sent you a copy via yousendit. They’ll send you a direct link so you can download easily.

  11. Dave Seah 15 years ago

    John: This video is incredibly awesome! Thank you so much…much to think about! Things I’m gleaning from it:

    * What you want to do/accomplish
    * A list of things that you’re going to do if you’re stuck, or simplification
    * A Plan B, Multiple Paths

    The commentary on frustrations, simplification are thematically interesting. It’s a tough little form to figure out overall…hmm.

    Readers should check it out :-) I am going to post a separate post to link to John’s video.

  12. katrina 15 years ago

    Wonderful summation, John.

    As a tarot reader myself, I was intrigued by your initial statements about possibly using them to layout Dave’s biorhythm/DNA coil version of his day grid balancer.

    I also like the idea of starting with what is frustrating and keeping it simple.  And I had just written in my journal that tracking next actions was not as motivating as tracking progress toward larger goals.  Hmmm … lots to think about … thanks!


  13. john ballantrae 15 years ago

    I’m glad you both enjoyed the video. Giving food for thought rather than an “answer” seemed like the best idea for a general audience.
    John Ballantrae

  14. Emily 15 years ago

    I just have to say that I LOVE this. I get quite obsessive about my to-do lists (and actually mix pleasurable things within), but this makes it so simple and I love the design. Reminds me of Weight-Watchers, but for your life. :)

    Thanks for creating. You should fill in 100 green boxes for this!

  15. Keenahn 15 years ago

    Hrmm, interesting idea David.

    Unfortunately, I fail to see the purpose of this form. It seems to me that if you keep up with your GTD system and prioritize your tasks, at any moment during the day in whatever context you are in, you are always doing things you want to be doing, that all move you closer toward your goals. In effect, you can rest easy knowing that, to the best of your knowledge, you are spending your time exactly how you want to.

    I’m sorry, perhaps I’m missing something. I would love to understand how this form helps you.

  16. Dave Seah 15 years ago

    Emily: I’d be curious to know if you find the form useful in day-to-day! It looks simple, but I’m not convinced yet that it is actually workable. It maybe works better as an illustration reminding us.

    Keenahn: Excellent comment. I think your argument assumes that we do actually do know what will fulfill us; GTD is a mechanical system for sequencing and managing tasks, but it does not tell us what to prioritize that will lead to fulfillment.

    In other words, you could use GTD to fly through your tasks, but that is not a guarantee that they’re emotionally satisfying. The premise of this design exploration is to suggest that ensuring that balancing a variety of inputs leads to a sense of satisfaction. This is not always obvious to every practitioner, and this form is using balance as the central organizing motif.

    I think what you are probably missing is what you said: “it’s an interesting idea”; this form is merely exploring a different facet of productivity. I make no guarantees :-)

  17. Emily 15 years ago

    Will follow up on usefulness in a week or so. I use GTD methods, but loosely, so it may be why this is so appealing to me. Current list of choice is The Hit List (, but I’m excited to switch to this for a bit because I still love using paper lists.

    I’ll let you know…

  18. Amanda Pingel 15 years ago

    So it finally clicked yesterday what I think this form looks like to me.

    This picture says to me: several independent but inter-related projects working towards a common goal.

    For example, one of my projects right now is growing a home garden.  That involves a bunch of things like researching what grows in my climate and how to grow them, planning what will fit in my backyard and where, actually going to the store and getting materials, actually planting & watering, and doing prep stuff like making compost & turning the soil.

    And these can’t be done all at once: I have to research what will grow, then see how much space I have, then see how much space each thing needs, then plan specifically where everything will go, then do some prep work, then realize that I’ve forgotten what prep needs doing and go back to research, then go get seeds, then do some more prep, then research how to plant, then plant, then research how to tend, then prep for tending, then tend….

    So I would put “research” “planning” “get materials” “plant & tend” and “prep” on each of your little DNA strands, and color them in as I go.  If I get stuck on the project, I can see if I’m too far down a strand or stuck too high on another.  Overall, I need to kind of move down them simultaneously. 

    Which would make this a much higher-level form that you were thinking, but I think it’s a beautiful use of it.

  19. mjp 15 years ago

    This is great I am not able to use all the wonderful scripts _ blogs _ and pure knowledge overload – I am now in my Joomla CMS stage of 3am battles and remember when being a media artist didn’t seem so complicated _ I have so many random scripts that i plan on pulling together for some good use and this is exactly what i needed to help from completely loosing touch with the human race.  Simply I am thankful I love colors and miss using pencils – if this doesn’t work nothing will –

    All the best

  20. Edgar 15 years ago

    Hej Dave,

    first of all: you’re doing great work here. I’m a big fan of your PCEO since I try to use my time more satisfying. Because I have a lot of stuff to do in many different contexts (student at university, freelancer for money, vice-chairman of a students association, …) I experience the problem of imbalace. Therefore I’m longing for the next releases of your day balancer and a more detailed how-to. I don’t really know what categories I should create and there’s no place where the category names go. What I really don’t understand: Why are the numbers of the bubbles so different? I see 16 pink and blue (each), 24 red, 20 dark-green and 16 light-green bubbles. What’s the point about these different numbers? Or did I miss some explanation?


  21. AJ 14 years ago

    This is very wacky!

    Useful though as I tried using it and its actually fun for to-dos and stuff.

    Thanks for the post