Alt Summit Panel // Balancing Work & Life

I think it's about time I shared the portion of my panel from Alt Design Summit, titled "Balancing work and life." I focused on how we balance our lives through routines, schedules, and time management.

Photo by Brooke Dennis
1- The Top Metaphor:

When you spin a top, it has to have equal balance on all sides in order to perform correctly. So we are the top. Imagine the surface of the top is split into all of the different areas of your day or routine. For you to stay upright, all of those different areas must balance out. Imbalance comes from being pulled too much in one direction. So the key here is to spend a little bit of time in every important aspect that makes up your day. If you spend too much time in one area, you or the top will begin to wobble and will topple over. This is what we know as burnout and it can be hard to start spinning again. I should mention that this is where a physical list of your intentions for the day does become important. Tasks in sight become tasks on your mind and reverting away from your list leads to those 2 hour internet searches that were only supposed to take 2 minutes. And then there goes your top, it has toppled over.

2- Diversity:
When we create or look at our personal schedules, diversity is prime. This is the answer to burnout and to achieving healthy time management. When we allow ourselves to touch base in several different areas throughout the day, we will ultimately feel more balanced and fulfilled than we would overloading ourselves in just one area.

James McMahon and Lauren Rosenfeld said,

“To be engaged at whatever I am doing, whenever I am doing it. What I do wholeheartedly energizes me, no matter what that is. It is only when I get into the pattern of getting through one thing in order to get to the next thing that I feel exhausted and overwhelmed.”  (

So, it may feel good to put all of your effort and time into one task but your mind will most likely still worry about the other 9 things you had hoped to accomplish. Diversity of activity allows for a more complete feeling, even if everything isn’t complete.

3- Simplicity:
Craig Jarrow from the website Time Management Ninja asked the question, “Do you end up doing more work just to maintain your system than you do getting work done?”

I immediately thought of my email inbox and my pinterest boards. Endless files and hopes to get everything in just the right folder and in just the right category. If we have created one process that connects to another and then links to another and then syncs with another, our process may be too complicated. Sometimes what we think is worthy of our time is actually just impeding on our time management.

4- Acceptance:
When we think of balance I assume that most of us may picture an artificial perfection. Although it would be amazing if we could have more hours in the day or accomplish all that we want and need to, their has to be acceptance that not everything will make the cut. Feel good about what you mark off your list and feel even better about the things you do to keep yourself going, to make your loved ones happy, and what you do to keep your top spinning comfortably and consistently.

The great thing about blogging is that it’s not solely technical; it does offer many opportunities for social outreach and unique experiences. Home, work, and life routines are becoming more and more blended, so we need to embrace this in our scheduling and enjoy the change between actions. Balance isn’t a matter of getting everything done, it’s a matter of spending your time in useful ways whatever that may mean to you personally. That will differ from person to person.

Lastly, a quote from the Rocker Patti Smith,
“In art and dream may you proceed with abandon. In life may you proceed with balance and stealth.”

Hopefully a few of these tips can inspire or help you in your daily juggle of balancing what I'm sure is more than you desire. We're with ya there!


Melody :

Nicely put! And how lovely that you were a presenter.

Michelle :

Thank you Melody!


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