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How the 'Rule of Thirds' Can Fuel Work-Life Balance

Breaking your day into three broad categories can harmoniously integrate passion and purpose.

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Our passion is often our superpower, and simultaneously our kryptonite. While it drives the desire to transform an industry, change the world and create opportunities, it can also hinder striking that delicate balance between work and life.

Achieving that balance is an ongoing challenge. For example, when it comes to work, we go through our days checking off urgent to-dos while putting out the proverbial fires and leading businesses and teams down an unpaved and vision-based path to success. 

At one point in my career, a lack of balance hit me undeniably — a feeling just as jolting as lifting a weighted barbell with a missing clamp and struggling to get it back into alignment as the weight wiggles and dangles on edge. When that sensation became clear as day, I thought back to advice I received earlier in my career: a simple technique that offered a solution.

The rule of thirds

In a workday application, this rule is a method of organizing your hours into three areas in a way that brings balance, satisfaction and an ongoing sense of purpose. The goal is to spend each third with a focus on the following categories: spending time with people who know more, with those who share a similar mindset and mentoring others. For me, applying the method was not just about balance, but also about avoiding burnout and raising awareness above the daily tasks that can take such a toll. 

Related: Gen Z Wants This More Than Flexibility at Work

Gaining perspective and making an impact

Splitting your day in this way invites new perspectives, as well as a way of better offering yours to others. It's a balance of giving and taking, while still making forward progress.

For example, spending time with people who know more than you will satiate your thirst for learning and up-level your knowledge. This interaction is more often about listening than speaking. For example, at Banyan, we have a board of strategic advisors that knows much more than I do about payment networks, retailer priorities and venture capital. Therefore, I lean on them — as well as my team members and peers — to help accelerate our business, and such a process does not mean simply accepting their opinions, but learning from their experiences. This type of exchange can spark new ideas, new ways of thinking and new ways to solve problems. 

Spending time with those who share a similar mindset (a teammate or significant other, to name a few examples) helps reinforce your position and ensure you are all on the same page, which is also essential for making progress. This can include time spent aligning on business objectives or personal finances or, on a lighter note, discussing current events or exciting plans for the future. Either way, it’s often a breath of fresh air and a way to get into a flow. 

Mentoring others is the ultimate chance to give back, to pay it forward. Throughout my career, I was fortunate enough to have incredible mentors who supported me, helped me see challenges in new ways and offered advice on navigating the rocky road of entrepreneurship. And I feel proudly responsible for paying all that forward by mentoring others who want to take a similar path or who are exploring some of the adventures I explored throughout my lifetime. Sharing my knowledge and lessons learned while instilling the values I hold sacred is a gratifying experience: Giving to others helps me live “on purpose,” as well as enjoy a daily sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. 

Related: 7 Reasons You Need a Mentor for Entrepreneurial Success

Give the rule a try

If you are struggling with balance, give the above-mentioned technique a try. First, break your day (or tasks) into sections and categorize according to the three intentions, then make a real effort to fill each one, even if that requires a little extra work; it will be worth it. 

Even when things get crazy and my schedule is not as predictable as I would like, this rule is one I implement on an ongoing basis. So far, it has not disappointed; in fact, it enables me to live a life that harmoniously integrates passion and purpose and provides a noticeable and essential balance.

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