Last Friday’s Women’s Leadership Initiative session about time management had the original title of “Life Balance,” but Julie Newell threw out the title at the start. She replaced it with “dynamic equilibrium,” which I think is a great way to look at how we manage our resources (which include both time and energy).
The concept of dynamic equilibrium is important in geology; it describes the energy balance in a landscape, in which the landforms adjust fairly quickly to changes. For example, a stream will be affected by the characteristics of underlying rocks and soil, fractures, vegetation, slope, rates of uplift, and climate change. The stream will “work” to adapt to these changes by eroding the surrounding materials, steepening its course, depositing sediment, or through some other response.
In a sense, we all manage the landscapes of our lives in similar ways. When we have more work to do, we pick up the load. When we reach the new equilibrium point, we can back off a little. We’ve all experienced the impact of climate change at work; we generally adapt fairly quickly to the changes, and then we reach a dynamic equilibrium. The over-used phrase “the new normal” can actually describe this new adjustment point.
You can tell that I like this concept as a way to think about how we manage time, energy, work, and the factors that affect our lives. This is Julie’s idea, but she and I are going to see if we can develop it a little further. (Julie does, by the way, have a background in geology and the history of science.)
Dynamic equilibrium is a state that can adapt to changes in the environment (physical, social, cultural, emotional, and intellectual). Here’s an example of static equilibrium (balance) that is not so adaptable: