You may have heard the old southern expression “Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke.” Last summer, I took away a wonderful lesson in leaving well enough alone when it comes to my own work-life balance.

I’m a big believer in creating self-care routines and some of these practices have been a part of my life for a long time. But I’ve discovered an inherent flaw with seasoned systems: they can hum along so quietly in the background that you may forget how much they matter.

This was the case when I decided to prepare for my vacation by stacking my schedule, omitting my “studio days” for a few weeks. I thought it would prevent some post-vacation stress to get more done before the trip. But my plan backfired, and I came down with a case of overwhelm before I even left.

Studio days are the one day a week that I hand myself over to painting, photography, drawing or something else associated with art or creativity. I had it in my head that since I was going to take a few weeks off for a photography-rich vacation, I could do without my weekly fix for a time. I could not have been more wrong.

But overload can arrive bearing gifts of insight. Like reminding me that even those little “luxuries” woven into my life aren’t luxuries at all. They’re the glue that keeps me together when life pulls me in too many directions.

I headed out on our road trip remembering that what’s essential to my life balance mustn’t be judged. My weekly art time, those lovely blank spaces in my planner, movement and massages… these are just a few of the proven essentials that continually invite me back “home” to balance– and I’m sticking with what works.

Have you ever shaved something from your schedule and felt your scales start to tip? Perhaps the seemingly insignificant omission was actually a vital part of your life balance. Why not take a moment to consider which routines currently act as your glue, and you may avoid accidentally breaking what’s working well for you.


(Originally published on October 18, 2009)