Yesterday I wrote about my balance matrix – the framework I devised for shifting the conversation about “work-life balance” to one that focuses more on fun and purpose. Perhaps the trickiest part of applying the balance matrix to our lives is addressing the question, “How do I make time for fun and purpose?”

The Balance Matrix

The Balance Matrix

Many of us don’t have the privilege of aligning fun and purpose perfectly with our vocation, or even a significant portion of our spare-time pursuits (unless you consider housework, child- and elder care, and housework “fun and purpose,” in which case lucky you!). So there are a lot of hours in a week that we need to devote to the other three quadrants in the matrix: rewarding work, tasks and drudgery. (Though I hope for your sake there isn’t too much in that drudgery quadrant.)

Not only is it tricky to prioritize fun and purpose when you’re slaving away on tasks and drudgery, but it can be particularly challenging when you have a lot going on in the Rewarding Work quadrant – that is, when you’re being well-rewarded (whether financially or simply by way of other kinds of external validation) for the work you’re doing for other people. We feel productive when we’re working to solve problems for other people. And that’s a wonderful way to feel.

So how do you make time for the stuff that gives you a sense of fulfillment, but may not always feel productive – stuff like working on your novel, meditating, making art, listening to music, spending time in nature, or going surfing – when you’ve got a full slate of people ready to reward you for the “productive” stuff? Well…

Here’s your curiosity experiment for the week:

What happens if you reframe your Fun & Purpose time as…

Or here’s another way of looking at it:

What do you know is possible when you dedicate some time to the activities in your fun and purpose quadrant? What possibilities open up?

When I struggle to prioritize things the way I’d like to, I take some time to answer these questions for myself, and then I post my answers somewhere I’ll be forced to look at them regularly (like as a weekly reminder in my to-do app). I find that helps shift them from a “should” to a “really, really want to,” which makes all the difference in the world.