Creating balance and structure in an unbalanced life

Recently I’ve experienced the downside of having to much stuff going on. I divided my attention between being COO here at Hoa’s, working as a consultant at our other company Psykologifabriken, writing and blogging about my favorite subject, behavior economics, and at the same time finishing my master in psychology. And somewhere I’d like to have some time to hang out with my friends and girlfriend, ride my bike and workout once in a while.

Needless to say I was in desperate need of some  professional help.

Luckily for me I work with Alexander Rozental, a psychologist who educates and coaches people who need help with structuring their life, stop procrastinating and becoming more productive. Two weeks ago Alex started coaching me, and we used our tool Viary between our face to face sessions so that both him and I can track my progress. Together we identified three fields to focus on and  a few behaviors to work on with Viary.

One thing I realized talking to Alex was that every task and assignment I have gets the same priority, which until now been “extremely important”. It doesn’t matter if it’s a lecture I will be holding in one month, or a sales call I have to make right now – everything gets the equal amount of mental attention, which I’ve realized is really demanding on my attention span. In order to work with this problem Alex set up two behaviors for me in Viary:

1) Create a list of todays priorities
2) Schedule your upcoming work week

Working focused on one task
Another problem I have is a common one: multitasking! I’m probably not the only one that get e-mails every other minute. And I can’t be the only one having trouble not to check twitter, Facebook and my RSS every now and then. To tackle this problem Alex ordered me to install Breaktime, an application that helps you work in time units. A unit for me is 45 minutes. After 45 minutes your cognitive capacity goes down so it’s necessary to take a five or ten minute break. Alex and I created the following behaviors for me in Viary:

1) Work 45 minutes in Keynote
2) Work 45 minutes with tasks related to Health Hack Day
3) Work 45 minutes with tasks related to Hoa’s Tool Shop
4) Work 45 minutes with tasks related to your studies

If I get a thought that I might need to email someone, or check up something that’s unrelated to the task I’m supposed to be focused on, Alex told me to write down the thought. By doing this I can avoid getting caught in that thought, and loose focus from my actual task.

Dividing my work day
Apparently your brain is more suited to handle more demanding tasks in the beginning of our workday. Less demanding stuff like organizing and emailing is better to do in the afternoon, since those tasks demand less of our cognitive capacity. To keep track of how I divide these kind of tasks Alex told me to install RescueTime. This application will help me track my productivity and see how I divide my time between different applications during my work week.

So hopefully one coach and three applications (Viary, Breaktime and RescueTime) will help me create more balance in my life, and make me more productive while working – and more relaxed when I’m not.


  • brandon

    I like it.

  • Victor

    Three apps and voilá – “life balance” achieved! Evgeny Morozov, anyone?

  • Inna Drayuk

    There is one more productivity app, you should be using – Yaware.TimeTracker.

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