First off, I’ve thrown out the idea that I’ll attain perfect balance in anything.
What I can do is pay attention to what feels good and what doesn’t and make little adjustments along the way.
This rewards me with a sense of being present and in good forward motion. It also keeps my head from running faster than my feet (I already have scars on my face from doing that as a kid)! I don’t have to spend mental time in the future because I’m enjoying what I’m doing right now.
Paying attention helps me stay in the now, it also informs me when rest is needed (and when I’ve rested enough.) It also helps me see clearly what needs my time and when.
What does balance really mean?
Balance is a dynamic movement between opposites.
You can feel this concept in the 60’s song by The Birds rendering the Ecclesiastical verse (hum it if you know it!):
To everything (turn, turn, turn) there is a season (turn, turn, turn) and a time to every purpose, under heaven
And since balance is this turning dance of opposites, I spend specific time on tasks that require me to use different types of energy. My goal is to feel centered and sustained the majority of the time.
Take writing for example — it’s a specific ‘setting’ in my brain while I’m doing it, a different type of energy. Just as importantly, so is the downtime from writing. My subconscious needs to digest new ideas and my body needs to move. I need these in good proportion to sync up to a rhythm that works.
Two methods I use to balance productivity without force
Method #1 Pre-schedule tasks by category
A common pitfall is to give the majority of your attention to things that come easily to you (like default patterns or helping people). Then brushing off those things you’d rather not do (like follow-up tasks or bookkeeping).
I get it! I used to think I could wave a magic wand and things would fix themselves. It’s as if to say, oh just ignore that, it’ll go away. All the while I was quietly desiring a sense of balance that seemed out of reach.
Now I have blocks of time in my calendar designated for a variety of brain settings. And because I am engaged with them, I also know when things have been done; what a relief!
For business tasks specifically, try pre-scheduling using these 5 categories and see how it fits with your daily flow.
- daily maintenance
- client deliverables
- outreach and communication
- product creation
- visioning retreat
Before using this pre-scheduling method I had a reaction-based lifestyle. I’d just take care of what was in front of me at the moment, and I’d be guessing by the-seat-of-the-pants what to do next. All the while the pile of undone or ignored business began to bulge out of the subconscious closet I had put them in! It was exhausting.
It really impeded that intentional steady forward movement I wanted by creating unnecessary chaos. Although I’d like to point out, there’s more to chaos than meets the eye, which brings me to my second method…
Method #2 Build resilience with flexibility
Just as you can look up tide schedules on a chart, I can see my steady rhythm on my calendar with time distributed between different energy needs.
But it’s not rigid and here’s why.
I expect and acknowledge this pre-planned steady tide will get punctuated by storms of reorganization. These storms can change the shape of the land in a way the tide cannot.
Like a quickening, these pattern interruptions may feel chaotic but are usually followed by new awareness and insight into the next right action or direction. They can seem like a wake-up call.
It’s just like how we heal; we all have daily, small maintenance functions our bodies do naturally and constantly. These are then enhanced by occasional challenging, abrupt resets. This is when we get reprogrammed (think immunity or mind-body integrations).
The beauty is there’s a way to be prepared for these storms. Build resiliency by scheduling time-out to nourish your nervous system. Have your feet on the ground anchored in confidence. This comes from doing Method #1 and by making sure to include your self-care in your tidal rhythms.
I find taking regular times of stepping out of the ‘dailies’ is a necessity. It gives me an opportunity to see things from a different perspective. I can see storms as they’re coming and they don’t knock me off my feet when they arrive!
Lean into a healing calendar system
Superior medicine is a traditional Chinese medicine term for a style of care focused on nourishing and following natural order. Done well, it takes its cue from how nature balances herself as the blueprint.
And just like a health routine, how you execute your productivity can be a medicine for your well-being. That steady prevention of problems over time will always give you more fuel to keep going.
No matter which system you choose to calendarize your time, there will inevitably be a learning curve if you give it enough time to find its rhythm. I urge you to remember to dance with opposites, pay attention, and make small adjustments. Plus a little reorganizational healing is a good thing!
So if anyone tells you to run faster than your feet, just hum our theme song and pay attention to what feels right. To everything turn, turn, turn…