Blake Snow

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For more than just photos, the “rule of thirds” is the balanced life

Courtesy Shutterstock

Want to take a good photo? Follow the rule of thirds. Want to live life to the fullest? 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:

  1. Sleep time. This means eight hours of sleep, 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.
  2. Work time. This includes your job and exercise weekdays. On the weekends, it includes domestic duties, shopping, errands, nesting, and any delinquent exercise you may have missed.
  3. Free time. This includes recreation, leisure, adventure, grooming, relaxation, healthy distractions, spirituality, and socializing. As always, give or take an hour or two each day, but don’t make skipping free time a habit. Also called “down time,” this is just as sacred, if not as important, as work and sleep time, since it’s where we often find inspiration in unrelated and surprising ways.

Since hygiene, feeding, and potty breaks are mandatory and usually involuntary, they can fall within any of the above thirds.

For parents, this gets a little complicated. But it can be done with sacrifices. Just make sure you sacrifice equally across personal, work, and free time, and make up the difference on weekends (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 15, I largely have. And they’ve been the greatest, most balanced years of my life so far.

This post first published to in 2011

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