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Want a More Balanced Life? Harmonize

Last week I talked about bringing harmony into your organizing systems. I shared a quote from Daniel J. Levitin’s book (The Organized Mind). It goes like this, “It is important to harmonize your organizational style and systems with your personality.”  In case you didn’t read last week’s blog you can find it here. Today I want to talk about balance in your life. Honestly, I don’t believe it’s always possible to have a balanced life. However, I believe there is a way to create a more balanced life by bringing harmony into the equation.

Let me explain. We know that there is harmony when notes in a song or instruments in a band compliment each other. No one voice is consistently stronger than the others and no instrument is always louder than the rest. When you listen mindfully, however, there are times when one voice or one instrument takes the lead.

You are the conductor

What if you designate yourself as the conductor of the orchestra or choral group? This puts you in charge. You know that the melody will run through the entire piece, and you know that one or more voices will always be present.  What else do you want to hear? As the conductor you can chose which other instruments or voices are heard above the others at any one time. How does this apply to your life? I’m so glad you asked!

Let’s look at the different aspects of your life

You have your work and your home but what else do you have? Perhaps you have hobbies or volunteer activities. Maybe you belong to a religious organization. Everything you do, participate in, or are a member of requires time and energy from you. There is no chance you are going to give each aspect of your life equal time. You know that there are times when one aspect of your life requires you to focus intently on it almost to the exclusion of everything else. So how do you create a sense of balance in life?

Drill this down even further

Think about what you honestly want. Maybe within your home and personal life you want to exercise and prepare healthy meals. Perhaps you also want to volunteer at your children’s school or at your church or woman’s group. Let’s not forget your relationships. For them to flourish they also require time and attention. How do you balance these things with everything else you do (chores, errands, appointments, and work)?

Rely on good habits and organizing systems

When you have good habits and easy to follow organizing systems they work together. There is a synergy – a blending of tasks and chores – that you do almost without thinking. You have done them so often you know that if you do this then that is what you do next.

For instance, when you get up in the morning your routine may include brushing teeth, making your bed, taking a shower, and putting dirty laundry in a basket or hamper. If you follow a routine such as this one, you can be confident that your bedroom is tidy and that you are ready to face the day.

An example of a good habit is to put something away where it belongs once you have finished using it. When you put the thing back where it belongs then you know, without a shadow of doubt, where to look when you want to use it again.

Certain chores like laundry and dishes are like bunnies. They multiply and become overwhelming if you do not keep them under control. Remember to close the loop and complete the entire laundry and dishes process.

Laundry is only finished if it is put away. This means it goes in the washer, then into the dryer, then folded and put away.

Dishes are rinsed (or not) and put in the dishwasher. Then you run the dishwasher and put the dishes away once the dishwasher has finished its cycle.

When you rely on these good habits and routines you can give more attention or focus to something which is requiring more of your time.

Harmonize your activities for a more balanced life

Try assigning specific days to organizing activities.

For instance, Sunday may be the day you go to church and Sunday School. In the afternoon, there may be sports for your children. Games to watch. If your plan is to go to the game anyway, perhaps you volunteer to bring the snacks for the team. This way you can balance your desire to volunteer for your child’s school with watching the game.

Set an hour aside one day during the week to plan healthy meals. Take 10 minutes and organize the pantry. This way you know what staples you have in stock. Review your recipes, plan your meals, and make your shopping list or place your order. If you go to the grocery store, then schedule time in your week to make that trip. This blends your desire to have healthy meals with keeping your pantry organized. Plus, it saves you time and money. When your pantry is organized you can see what you have which saves time and you know what ingredients are handy, so you don’t buy duplicates.

Have a Family Meeting

Make time each week to have a family meeting. Even if your family is just made up of you and your partner, spouse, or housemate. Find out if there is anything special going on for that person in the coming week. This is also the time to talk about sharing household chores. Is this person keeping up with the organizing systems in the home? If not, ask if there is something they would like to change.

Maintaining the home is something everyone in the home can help with. When everyone is involved, it feels more balanced and less like it all falls on your shoulders.

Remember to take care of yourself

We forget that it’s impossible to do a good job caring for others when we do not take time to attend to our own needs. Some even think it is selfish. I am telling you the best thing you can do is to honor yourself.

Take a cat nap to refresh yourself if you’re tired.

Have a healthy snack

Spend some time reading

Go for a walk and get some fresh air and sunshine

Indulge yourself with a nice bubble bath

These are just a few things that appeal to me. Take care of yourself so you can be the best you can be.

Allow give and take

You can only have a more balanced life if there is give and take. There will always be times when things are unbalanced, when you are giving more time and attention to one aspect of your life. As long as the other aspects are functioning in the background you can give them less time and attention for a short time. Much like a song or an orchestra it’s ok to let one voice or one instrument lead for awhile then the rest of the voices or instruments return to make a beautiful harmony.

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Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer® ,a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC and co-owner of Release●Repurpose●Reorganize, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia

10 Comments

  • Great blog! I loved ” Much like a song or an orchestra it’s ok to let one voice or one instrument lead for awhile then the rest of the voices or instruments return to make a beautiful harmony.” However, I must say that being a conductor is exhausting at times.

    • Diane Quintana says:

      Yes. It is exhausting to coordinate lots and lots of instruments (or activities, chores, tasks, errands etc.) If you are the conductor you can decide if you want to eliminate some of those things to which you dedicate your time.

  • I love that you used the word “harmonize.” It is a great word to remind us of flow in life. Flowing from one to another task makes life more seamless. Thanks. for inspiring other readers and me to move more fluently in our lives. =)

  • Seana+Turner says:

    This post is just beautiful! My daughter is very involved with choirs and has been for many years. I can hear the glory of the various voices together, and it is a wonderful feeling. I love how you have applied this to our lives. I am giggling over the laundry and dish “bunnies”… it’s so true!

    I’m working with a client now and this idea of what “finished” looks like. That the dishes need to get put away, and the same with the laundry. Halfway done ends up creating problems of its own, right?

  • What a wonderful analogy! If we have a minimum standard to adhere to in each aspect of our lives, things won’t fall apart if we’re unable to get to them when we normally would.

  • Julie+Bestry says:

    Reading great, insightful posts like this and working with my clients always reminds me how lucky I am — for my personality — that I am not responsible for other family members. Harmonizing all of the activities of my own would be problematic enough. For example, while I usually have lots of buffer time, I’ve had an unusually heavy client load the last few weeks, plus I’ve been finishing up my Evernote Expert recertification, and I haven’t had my usual “white space” around the edges of my chunks of labor. I recognized where I was missing harmony, but to accomplish everything I needed to do, I was going to have to postpone harmony…until tonight, when I can now ease into a more harmonious transition into 2nd Quarter. Thanks for creating such a clear, and useful, metaphor!