This walkthrough with screen shots from the software should help you get an idea of how Life Balance works. Life Balance for Mac OS X is full of unique features. This walkthrough document goes through some highlights of what we would show you if we were sitting next to you to give you a personal demo.
Life Balance is built around an outliner where you can take the major parts of your life (like work, home, and leisure), list your goals for each part, and break those goals down until they become bite-sized tasks. You can rearrange your outline simply by dragging items where you want them. Clicking on the triangles collapses and expands the outline.
You can edit the text for your tasks in place and drag tasks around to rearrange the Outline easily.
When you select a task in the Outline the details about the task appear in a panel on the right. Here you can also edit the item’s description, assign it an importance, specify where the item must be done, and set when and how often it must be done.
Priorities in Life Balance work diﬀerently than in most other planning systems. Rather than asking you to decide how important something is relative to everything else you have to do, Life Balance only asks you to determine how important a task is to accomplishing the goal that you speciﬁed above it in the outline.
This system not only simpliﬁes your decision-making, it allows you to reprioritize entire sections of your outline by dragging a single slider.
Items in your outline may happen “once”, “routinely”, or “By Due Date, or “By Date Book”. “Routinely” is good for chores — like doing the laundry — that need to be done regularly, but not necessarily on a particular day. “By Date Book” is appropriate for meetings and other tasks that must be done on a speciﬁc day at a speciﬁc time. “By Due Date” is useful for non repeating tasks that have a Due Date, but that don’t really need to be posted to your Date Book.
Life Balance includes a calendar view for appointments. Life Balance now supports sync services to iCal. This means that your Life Balance calendar and to-dos are available anywhere that iCal is: on your iPod, published on your .Mac web site, or synced to other computers that share your .Mac account. Best of all, data ﬂows in both directions so that tasks you check oﬀ in iCal or events that get rescheduled are immediately updated in Life Balance. A new preference panel lets you control exactly which iCal calendars will be synchronized to which projects. Or if you’re new to Life Balance and want to get started quickly, just choose “New from iCal” from the File menu.
Life Balance for Mac OS allows you to have notes about the item. This can be handy in unexpected ways. For instance, you can have a single item for “stop by the convenience store,” then include the things you wish to pick up on your way home in your notes.
Eﬀort is an abstract term that can be used to apply to time spent, task complexity, or even task stressfulness. Generally it is a good Life Balance practice to break your goals down into what feel like manageable tasks. This is certainly less overwhelming for tackling long range plans, and if you do this consistently, you may not need to adjust the Eﬀort slider at all.
You can customize the list of places that Life Balances knows about in the Places section. A place can represent an actual place like a store, or a situation like “near a phone” or “meeting with Bill”. Since the places are independent of the projects in your outline, it’s easy to indicate that something for home needs to be done at work — like calling the plumber from your oﬃce at a time when you know you can reach her.
Places can include other places, so you can teach Life Balance that there’s a Grocery Store at the Mall. That way, whenever you’re at the mall, Life Balance will also remind you of anything you have to do at the Grocery Store.
You can also specify the hours that a place is open. This keeps Life Balance from suggesting that you go to a place that’s closed, like trying to buy stamps at the Post Oﬃce on Sunday morning.
Life Balance makes it easy to set the hours for a place when many of the days are the same. Select the day range dragging diagonally across the times until you’ve set the time that you want.
You can add notes to your Places for driving directions or admission prices.
The to-do list is where Life Balance really shines. Just choose where you are from the pop-up menu at the top of the screen and tap “Update”, and Life Balance looks through your entire outline, pulls out just the tasks that you can do in your current location, and sorts them with the most important tasks on the top. You can check oﬀ items in any order and scroll down to see the lower-priority items if you want to, but most of the time Life Balance does a remarkable job of recommending where you should be focusing your attention.
You can tell Life Balance to only include tasks for Places that are Open, this will keep life Balance from displaying tasks in your To Do List if the Place where it needs to be done is Closed. If you need to see the whole list, you can toggle the “Open” box to show “All” the tasks.
You can use the PopUp list to look at tasks that you can do “Anywhere”, or see all your tasks by asking for “All Places.” We keep a cache of your most recently used places near the top of the list, but you can scroll through to choose any of your locations.
The more information you give Life Balance about your tasks, the more accurately your To Do List will reﬂect your priorities, deadlines and goals. Life Balance default values are reasonably set to err on the side of encouraging you to get something done.
In the Balance section you can get a list of the tasks you’ve checked oﬀ, either overall or per-project, to see your accomplishments.
The pie charts at the top of the Balance screen are really what give Life Balance its name. The pie chart on the right shows how you have been apportioning your time among your toplevel projects. The pie chart on the left lets you specify how you would like to be spending your time. You can change the relative sizes of the pie slices on the left by simply dragging them with your pen.
If the two pie charts don’t match, you can ask Life Balance to adjust the priorities in your to-do list to encourage you to work on projects that haven’t been getting enough of your time. If you’re a workaholic, this is a great way to encourage yourself to take some time oﬀ once in a while.
If you tend to procrastinate, this is a gentle, guiltless way to push yourself a little harder.