My Balanced Day Ramble
I wrote a very short blog post on balance 8 years ago (wow time flies, check out the old school WP theme!) and the thought/concept has remained with me ever since, so I thought, why not expand and elaborate on it a bit further.
The original post:
I think if we were to build ‘Deep Thought v2 — The Faster Version!’ the answer to the ‘Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything’ would be… ‘Balance’.
It is, in my humble opinion, the single most important thing to get right in life. Find ultimate balance and I think you will live a content and fulfilled life. Oh and by the way, this is just a theory I hold.
If you do a quick search on Google for “Importance of Balance” and read both the normal search results and the scholarly articles.. you will see that pretty much every subject matter you can think of is mentioned and how important striking equilibrium is.
True Balance is elusive… yet I believe trying to achieve balance is the pursuit of happiness.
Born on the 22nd October, my view might be biased. I’m a Libran!
Weirdly the numbers of my birthday seem to come to balance themselves too (they contain, and produce even numbers)!
2 % 2 = 0
2 * 2 = 4
2 + 2 = 4
2 - 2 = 0
October is the 10th month
October was the 8th month, before July and August were added
I am also fairly sure you can find patterns in anything if you look hard enough. Did you know that Apophenia is the human tendency to perceive meaningful patterns within random data? Sorry for that! I digress… Although I did entitle this post “ramble” so you have been warned!
1. walk for pleasure in the countryside.
2. talk or write at length in a confused or inconsequential way.
Ever since the importance of Balance has come up in my thoughts, I have been seeing the theme through slogans, sayings and other concepts through the prism of scales;
- Everything in moderation
- To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction
- Work, Rest and Play
- Little by little, a little becomes a lot
The patterns in sayings come up all the time.
Also, somehow we know that without balance in our lives, usually something about the imbalance will jar, or hurt us.
Too many calories in your diet, you’ll get fat and unwell
Too few, and you’ll also be ill.
A balance must be struck.
Too much time indoors, or in isolation without interaction, can start to become mentally tough.
Too much time without peace or rest away from people or activity will also start to have negative impacts.
A balance must be found.
In fact, on the above examples, giving too much, or too little, food or isolation, are actually forms of torture.
I could go on into other areas. You will often find the same pattern. Extremes seem to hurt us. Balance is often needed for a healthy living.
“Everything in moderation” they say.
If I, and many others before me, are correct in our belief that balance is important and worthy of pursuing, I thought it would be an interesting to see how a day might be split-up and balanced, and what that might look like.
According to my research, the recommended amount of sleep, for adults, is between 7–9 hours. Personally, I get an average of 8, which fits nicely balanced in the range. Going to bed at 10:30 and waking at 6:30 is what I would consider my normal daily routine. Of course variation occurs, but we are talking averages here.
Side note: Given that there are 24 hours in a day, I wonder if 12 hours sleep — 12 hours awake, is a good formula and perhaps contains a magical balance/feeling?!
On my routine, 8 hours sleep leaves me, 16 hours, to use. The next, non-negotiable thing I have to do is eat. When to do that is the source of much debate. One thing most reports and studies do agree though, is that you must not skip breakfast.
Reporting in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, Harvard School of Public Health researchers studied the health outcomes of 26,902 male health professionals ages 45 to 82 over a 16-year period. They discovered that the men who skipped breakfast had a 27% higher risk of heart attack or death from heart disease than those who honored the morning meal. According to the scientists, skipping breakfast may make you hungrier and more likely to eat larger meals, which leads to a surge in blood sugar. Such spikes can pave the way for diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, all risk factors that can snowball into a heart attack.
After much internet clicking and reading (aka research!) and finding myself in strange places and dead-ends, it became apparent that there is no consensus on the best time to eat breakfast. And I’d be skeptical if someone said there was to be honest.. because we all have different metabolisms, locations, diets, needs etc. However I did find a number of posts and articles commonly stating ‘You should eat breakfast within thirty minutes to an hour after waking up’. That makes sense to me, and it does tend to be when I find myself starting to think about food.
So for me, I’ll plump for 7:30am, more on why later.
After so much reading on dietary patterns and who thinks what, it wasn’t that much clearer on when the optimal time to eat lunch and dinner was. So I just go ahead and say 1–2 for lunch.
Dinner, I would like to say 5–6, but as it is a an average day, by time I get home (more on this later) and I have cooked I am usually eating at around 7:30 for dinner. How does the pattern and spacing look?
Not too bad.
I am not going to show toilet breaks, showering, cleaning and the like, but obviously combined that could easily be an hour of my day. Assume they are spread out through the course of the day. I’ll add a black block for cleaning, but assume it is spread out.
So we are now left with 12 and a half hours (16 minus 2.5 (eating) minus an hour). Wow, so far I have only slept and eaten and cleaned myself, all of course are fundamentally important, but that’s not much time to crack on and live a full and balanced day! I am just surviving at this point!
What I would like to achieve in that remaining time could vary in specifics, but overall, I think it would be good to have it split between:
- Entertainment (passive)
- Exercise / Healthy Activity
- Work / Being productive
- Inspiring others / Being a Dad!
- ‘Me’ time (thinking/meditation, learning)
With the whole balance theme going on, I thought I should split these pretty evenly, so that’s 2.5 hours dedicated to each. BUT… and this is where theory meets real-life/honesty.
I’d love to think I could have 2.5 hours exercising, and that I could get my work done in 2.5 hours. It’s just not real for me.
Obviously I haven’t stated which day of the week this is.
I happen to work 5 days a week with weekends off, so I think it best to think about an average day, which means looking at a working day.
I work 9–6 mon-thurs, 9–2 on Fridays (yes, I am very fortunate).
Let’s make this random fictional day, a Wednesday, or humpday as it is sometimes referred as.
I have a bit of a commute to work. It takes me an hour and a quarter each way. BUT… I spend this time well. I am hooked-verging-on-obsessive about podcasts. I get through episodes and series at a rate of knots and I’m always on the hunt for new material (as well as eagerly awaiting favorites to drop new ones).
Here is a very short list of some of my top faves:
- Anything by Gimlet Media is great, but absolutely in my all-time top three would be: ReplyAll
- Radiolab is superb
- Adam Buxton is funny and entertaining
- Any of the Radio 4 comedies, shows and documentaries (there are a few!)
- TED talks
- The Infinite Monkey Cage
- Alexa Stop
- 50 things that made the modern economy
And a few top series that I have finished:
- Serial (I was an early adopter to podcasts, so luckily I got this at the time of release)
- Someone Knows Something
I’d class this time listening to podcasts as either Entertainment or ‘Me time’ (and some times it could be classified as work! I’ve taken plenty of notes, inspiration and actions from podcasts such as How I built This Planet Money Masters of Scale among others).
So lets add this commute time in (and that cleaning block):
10 hours left!
So, that technically is my 2.5 entertainment time gone, but again, I’d be lying if I said this was accurate. After dinner I am usually either chatting with my wife, doing chores, watching TV, a film, playing a game or reading. So let’s be real and classify this as entertainment time too.
First thing when I do when I wake, is my dad duties. My wife and I are blessed to have 3 young boys, so this time is spent challenging, corralling, mentoring, inspiring, cleaning and feeding them!
and the rest of the time is working:
So to recap:
Sleep: 8 hours
Work: 8 hours
Eating: 2.5 hours (although in reality this usually includes time getting or preparing/cooking the food)
Entertainment: 3.5 hours
Being a Dad: 1 hour
Cleaning: 1 hour
Zero hours exercising on an average day. *That’s not good*.
In writing this post - it highlighted to me how unbalanced my days were. It pushed me to take up swimming before work (again) on some mornings. Problem being, it takes over my ‘dad’ hour, leaving duties to my wife (who also has to do everything else for the kids).
I also try to play ultimate frisbee/football (or whatever sport is going) during my lunch break at work (but this is weather dependent).
Work was also kind to me to allow me to work from home on Friday’s, so luckily my day looks better then, and on weekends I try to make up for the lost ‘dad’ hours during the week.
Overall, I would say the balance I don’t have in my life (currently) is:
Enough time spent exercising, mediating/self-improving and doing enough to support my wife and children. In writing this post it has helped me to reflect how I am spending my days.
It would be amazing to see a month mapped accurately and laid out for analysis. I may try and see how I can get the data more accurate and a way to track/tag each hour (without it becoming a burden).
I hope you have enjoyed reading my ramble!
Perhaps you should map your day to see how you fare? It might just highlight if you have the ‘balance’ right.