A Well Balanced Pie

Sometimes I feel like there's never enough time in a day to get everything done. I get up, go to work, come home and do housework and D*I*Y Planner duties and then play World of Warcraft (when there's time). I always feel like my To Do list gets fatter and fuller and longer and it never shrinks. I'm finding it hard to strike a balance in my life between all the roles and responsibilities I have. So, what does someone do when their overwhelmed? Well, in my case, I turned to pies.

I wish I could tell you how yummy these pies are, with a soft, moist, and warm apple center and light, flakey crust. But I can't. You see... I'd be lying (and gaining an unhealthy amount of weight) if it were to those pies I turned to every time I felt swamped and overwhelmed in life. No, I'm talking about cooking up and comparing a few pie charts to help you get a bigger and better picture of where you spend your time and how you envision the perfectly balanced life. I'll even make it easier by giving you the recipe and detailed instructions. All you need to do is add your dreams, time, and patience.

innowen's Pie Chart Surprise

1 copy of innowen's Pie Chart Template (2 sheets)
1 box of crayons, watercolors or colored pencils for spice
1 pencil or pen
Some time for goal setting, imagination to create a better life and patience as you put this into practice.

Set aside 30 minutes (more or less, depending on how detailed you make the pies) of your time. Take out your goals and imagination and dream about what life you want to lead and how to get there from you are now. Dump into 2 pie templates. Apply crayons or color pencils liberally. Let sit and stew in your mind for a few minutes then compare 2 pies. Adjust life accordingly and smile.

See? Simple, just like I promised. Now, go download the Pie Chart Templates I've made for this article. Don't be surprised, they're not your standard D*I*Y Planner format. You'll need all the space around this chart. If you decide not to print out the templates or you're in a place where you cannot print them out, feel free to take out your planner or journal and sketch a template or two. Title the first piece of paper, Current; and the second one, Ideal. Draw a big circle in the middle of each piece of paper. You've just made yourself a few pie pans. Soon it will hold all the various ingredients that make up each slice of pie. Now, draw 12, lines equally through the pie pan. This divides your pan up into 24 slices, or a whole day's worth of eating. When you've finished creating two pie holders, set aside the Idea pie for a second. We'll come back to it in a few minutes.

Grab the Current pie and a pencil and those optional crayons or watercolors. Write down all the activities or hobbies you see taking up time in your days in the space surrounding the pie crust. You can summarize the big things like your job in one word: day job and all those activities can become work or use home for house cleaning and family duties. Doing so contains and gives you some space to dream. For me, my day looks a bit like this: work, writing, wow (World of Warcraft), art, housework, exercise, reading, sleeping, music, studies, and sleep. When you're done, draw a few boxes next to each word that can be used later to color coordinate the slices of these pie pieces.

Now back to the circle. Pretend this circle and all the space inside it, represents your life. Everything you do and like to do, all the responsibilities, family and friends, and hobbies go into this pie. Each thing you have written down outside of the circle are the slices you need to fit somewhere inside that circle every day. Look at all the things outside the circle and assign time-sizes to them. If you spend 6 hours of your day working at a job, write down "work" in 6 slices. You can also choose a color for "work" and then color 6 slices of your pie in. Don't forget to also color in the box you made next to word, work on the outside of your sheet. Continue doing this with all the other things you do in a typical day until all 24 pie slices are filled up. Set aside this pie to cool, you still have one more to make.

Grab the Ideal pie now. Using the same thing we did with the Current pie, start listing all the things you see yourself wanting to do in a day. You can add to this list if you want or keep it the same as the Current pie like I did. When you're done, start filling in each hour of the day as you'd LIKE to see your day happening. Of course, your six hours at work isn't going to grow any smaller, but the five hours you spend on average playing World of Warcraft every night, can. Cut back a few hours on that time and designate it for other things, like reading or making art. Once again, fill each hour of how you would WANT to spend your time up with the things you want to do.

When both charts are done, put them together, side by side. Take a minute to let them cool down. Now, look closely. Do you see any patterns? Did both your charts match? If so, you're lucky. If not, how close do your charts match? Did you run out of space to put all the ingredients you wanted into your pies? I know I did and it's okay to if you've run out of slices. For me, I typically have to give up the art and studies portions as I spend more time in World of Warcraft and housework. Give your completed pie a good look. If yours is similar to mine, it's probably not how you want it to look like. In fact, you're probably disappointed that not everything fits into that pie. I know I was. This is where you can have a chance to make things fit.

All it takes, to make them match, is one simple (but hard) step: Make a conscious effort to cut back on the areas in your Current Chart that don't line up to those on your Ideal chart. Use your Ideal Pie Chart to watch how much you spend on every activity. If you find yourself spending more than the alloted time in World of Warcraft, think about what you could gain by reading or making art. Don't guilt trip yourself into thinking games are bad. Instead, just use the game as a reward for spending time clearing out your library of unread books or learning a new chord progression on your guitar. This is a simple step in words but does take time and practice and determination to make it all work. Just like any system invented to help your life run smoother and get things done faster, you need to actively participate in the routine. But the reward of sticking to this new schedule is sweet and definitely worth it.

Instead of complaining to your friends about the lack of time you have, you now have all the time you need to spend doing whatever you want, when you can do it. Post your pies on your fridge to remind you of the life balance goal you've set for yourself. In a few weeks or months, revisit this article and create a new set of pies for yourself to track your progress. Maybe this time you'll have a more balanced and ideal lifestyle.

Who says you can't bake a pie and eat it too? The next time you're feeling swamped and without time to do what matters, why not sit down and have a little pie or two. Making pie charts allow you to see the whole picture of your life and where you tend to spend those precious minutes of each day doing what activities. For the more digitally inclined, I highly recommend you review Life Balance, which is available for Mac, PC and Palm Pilots. This wonderful little life balancing/coaching software provides a dynamic to do list that helps you organize your life by what's important to you, instead of what needs to get done. It incorporates pie charts and to do lists to take snapshots of your life and career and see how much or how little you spend doing activities you want to do. Just like the analog version above, Life Balance and pie charts can help you see the big picture in life and compare it to the image of how you want your life in to look in your head. If the two don't match up, it's time to make some adjustments.

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The Sweetest Pie...

I have to confess, a pie without at least two types of fat? I was skeptical... yet no longer, wow inno I have just made the world's sweetest, fat free pie. As you know my diet is a rather unheathy balance of work and 'ex avoidance' at the moment. This is just what I need to help restore my equilibrium - home cooking at its best. Thank you inno.

These are great

My coworker and I got right to filling them in with highlighters! After sleep and work, we only have about 6-7 hours a day to spare.

We best be intentional about how we spend them or the computer and tv will eat them all.

Holy Smokes! This is useful!

Another great article by innownen -- I put this into practice
yesterday a bit different than originally intended.

I had 4 hours left in the day to get work done after a morning of
procrastination. So I divided the 24 pieces into 10 minutes,
crafted a quick "Ideal" chart and then marked what I did in each
slice of the "actual" as each 10 mins passed.

For some reason, the whole configuration of the pie let my ADD
mind take it all in. It gave me a better countdown to the end of
the day and could plan on the fly (against the ideal) instead of
saving it all until 5:30 and spending the night at work!

For instance, at 3:30, my mind would normally say "Eh, I've got a
bunch of time left to do stuff --- let's surf!" but with the pie,
I could see I'd just under less of the pie left -- better get cracking!

Thanks for the article/pdf!


after doing a current pie, i realized i have 1.5 hours per day to get anything done after counting out work, sleep, and commute.

those of you who are complaining about only having 4, 5, or 6 hours left in your day - be thankful you have that much!

Me too


I have about the same amount after taking out Work, Sleep, Kids, and Meals. Every day there's a mental war between chores and something interesting/fun.