Want to take a good photo? Follow the rule of thirds. Want to live a sustainable and enriched life? Do the same.
In fact, I’ll make it even easier on you. Instead of dividing your life into three vertical columns and three horizontal columns, simply divide it into three overall columns for maximum balance. They are as follows:
- Personal time. This includes eight hours of sleep and/or excise, give or take an hour here and there. This is just as important on weekdays as it is on weekends. If you can master this column, it’s much easier to balance the following two columns.
- Work time. This includes occupational and occasional excise on weekdays in which “personal time” can’t account for it. On the weekends, this includes habitat, transportation, shopping, and grooming errands, in addition to any delinquent exercise. Also give or take an hour or two depending on any given day’s commitments.
- Down time. This includes recreation, leisure, adventure, relaxation, spirituality/meditation, and socializing. In my view, physical exercise should not be done in this block. Rather it should be done in one of the above two columns, at most 3-4 times a week (1 hour each) for people with kids; at the very least once or twice a week. As always, give or take an hour or two each day but don’t make it a habit. Down time is just as important to the mind and body as work and personal time are. In fact, it is here where you will find inspiration, often in unrelated ways, to fuel your work-related efforts.
Since hygiene, feeding, and potty breaks are mandatory and usually involuntary, they can fall within any of the above thirds.
For home makers and parents, this gets a little complicated. But it can be done with sacrifices. Just make sure you sacrifice equally across personal, work, and downtime, and make up the difference on the weekend (i.e. if one bucket is deficient during the week, overload it on the weekend. In my family’s case, that often means extra relaxation on the weekends and or one parent offering extra help to the other.)
Looking back, I rarely lived the rule of thirds for the first 30 years of my life. But for the last two years, I largely have, and they’ve been the best two years — at least in terms of balance — of my entire life.