My original title for this image and this post was ‘Impossible Balance’, but it was too defeatist. I also realize that many more ‘rocks’ (or maybe ‘roles’) could have been added to the right side of the scale: Spirituality, Alone Time, Commuting, Hygiene, and (Social) Networking, to name a few. No matter what occupies your time, or what commitments you prioritize, it seems like finding balance is a challenge many of us face today.
Furthermore, it would seem that ‘overlap’ is unavoidable. I addressed this idea of overlap in a previous post, or rather with the image below and the discussion in the comments, since my post, Connectivism, Relationships and Balance, proved to need much clarification.
Overlap is a point of contention. Technology exasperates, or at the very least complicates, things. I like the counterbalance of posts like Chris Wejr’s Missing the Moments By Trying to Capture the Moments and George Couros’ Quick to Judge. They both highlight the grey area around our fascination with digital media and the role it has in defining who we are as much as what we do.
But no matter how you look at it, the overlap between our interactions, across the different roles we play in each other’s lives, makes finding balance really hard. So, here are the things that I plan to work on in order to find balance in my busy life.
I love Brad Ovenell-Carter’s post, How Apple or Google Could Change Email and Save Us All From Drowning, because we need to recognize that email is very poorly used! The worst offenders are the ‘Reply All’ users and abusers. I think every time you try to ‘Reply All’ there should be two warnings that make you really think about what you are about to do. And that’s just one of hundreds of changes that email should undergo!
Email is not a productivity tool. It is a poorly used form of communication that engulfs productivity time and requires a disproportionate amount of our lives. I’m going to try turning my phone to ‘fetch’ email, rather than ‘push’ in order to reduce the physical interruption of a vibrating buzz that distracts my attention. Even if I’m having a great conversation with someone, and I ignore my phone, I still have to make a conscious decision based on what is likely an unnecessary message coming into my in box.
I’m also going to intentionally reduce my response time to all but the most important emails. I’m going to do this so that people do not expect an immediate reply, simply because they know I have my phone with me, and not because the message warrants a quick response. If you really need me, NOW, phone me. If I don’t answer, text me (because a voicemail is an equally painful waste of time, compared to text).
I have a job that does not end when I leave the building. That doesn’t mean I have to work intermittently throughout my evenings and weekends (this is directly related to my thoughts on email). I’m going to dedicate ‘homework’ time into my schedule, but spend more time being a husband and parent outside of my homework time. To do this, I’m actually going to take my phone out of my pocket when I get home. (Had to say that one ‘out loud’ or I’d likely not do it.) Anyone who has other phone strategies, please let me know.
As a teen, I grew 7.5 inches in less than a year. I have mild scoliosis and routinely suffer from back ache. Occasionally I do something (carelessly or accidentally) that shifts my ache to pain. That happened about 6 weeks ago and I’m still recovering. In my younger, more fit, years my recovery was usually 1 day to a week at maximum. I’m older now and have let my fitness routines slide. I’m going to start putting my workouts into my calendar. I don’t miss calendar events, but will blow off a workout because I over schedule myself. I’m hoping that by scheduling workouts, I will be creating better balance for myself.
I’m quite proud of the changes I’ve made here. I make myself and my youngest daughter a fruit shake every morning. Milk, yogurt, almonds and assorted fresh & frozen fruit. A delicious start to the day, and since I never measure ingredients and switch them up, it’s not the same old thing every day. Once that shake is made, I make a vegetable shake for my wife and I (again with almonds for protein). She has hers for breakfast, I take mine for lunch. Not as delicious as my fruit shake, but even healthier! I’m also reminding myself about the size of my dinner servings. I still indulge occasionally (had a bit more than my share of chocolate yesterday) but overall I’m eating healthier, and smarter than I have in a while. If you’d like a push in the direction of heathy eating, watch this TEDx Talk: Minding Your Mitochondria by Dr. Terry Wahls.
I’m not an expert in finding balance. As I mentioned, I was originally going to title this post ‘Impossible Balance’. Please share some of your actions, ideas and advice around finding balance in your life, or in the lives of those you respect and admire. I’d love to take advantage of our connectedness to learn more from you. In this way, we can overlap or digital connections with conversations that help us get to know each other better, we can learn from each other, and maybe even find some balance along the way!