Regain Your Balance – an Interview with Ali

We’ve got something a bit different for you today … an interview with Ali about her newly-launched ebook, Regain Your Balance. When we thought of great interviewers in the improving-your-life type niche, the first name which came to mind was Sid Savara, who writes awesome posts about personal development. He was kind enough to agree to lead the interview…

Sid: Why did you decide to write about life balance?

Ali: I’ve been blogging at Aliventures for almost a year now, and “balance” seems to be a recurring theme! I often get comments and emails about reader’s struggle to balance various areas of their life. Many of my readers have big goals; they’re keen, go-getter types, but with an awful lot going on in their lives.

Plus, I’ve been juggling several different projects over the past couple of years – I’ve been taking an MA in Creative Writing and working on a novel as part of that; I work as a freelance for a number of blogs; I’m branching out into some more entrepreneurial projects (like ebooks!) and I’ve also been serving as an Elder at my church. So as you might guess, I’ve become increasingly aware of the need to find balance in my own life.

How did you decide on the major themes to base the book on?

I sat down with a bit of paper and jotted down lots of notes – everything that I found hard about getting a good balance in my life. Then I started putting the pieces together, looking for big areas and broad themes. The six chapters – relating to Time, Creativity, Focus, Environment, Recharging and Money – came out of this.

I’ve put them in what was a logical order for me, but I also made sure that each chapter could stand alone, so that readers could dip in and out and tackle their most pressing needs.

In my life, I’ve found time management to be a huge aspect of life balance.  One point you make early on in Regain Your Balance is while many people are crunched for time, simply having more time won’t solve their problems.  Care to elaborate a bit on that?

Sure! I wanted to make that point so strongly in the ebook because it’s a trap I’ve fallen into, and it’s something I see others doing. I’m aiming the book at people who do a lot and who want the most out of their life – people who may be quite driven or very enthusiastic about lost of different things. I’m also very aware that I’m writing in a culture where “busyness” is taken for granted.

I know that in my own life, I have a tendency to clear one project or cancel one commitment, to free up some time and space – only to find that I just take on something new. It’s a form of poor time management, just not as obvious a one as procrastination.

Perhaps the easiest way to see it is to look at an analogy with another area. If you’re constantly struggling with money and you’re earning $50,000, you might think that a pay rise to $60,000 will solve all your problems – just like you might think getting an extra hour in the day would make everything so much easier. The trouble is, you won’t have changed, and your spending habits almost certainly mean you’ll struggle just as much on $60,000.

If having too little time isn’t the underlying issue, what are some of the underlying reasons that contribute to people feeling pressed for time?

There are all sorts of causes, and I suspect most of us have more than one of these going on:

  • Poor estimation of how long a particular task or project will take (we tend to be too optimistic)
  • An inability to say “no” to people – and to ourselves
  • A go-it-alone mentality, refusing to accept help
  • Pressure to have and do the same things as our peers (buying gadgets, going out every weekend, foreign holidays … whatever it is)
  • Perfectionism
  • Getting carried away by enthusiasm; taking on lots of new things and not following through with them.

One interesting chapter that jumped out at me in Regain Your Balance was the chapter on creativity.  How does life balance help with cultivating creativity?

That chapter was probably my favourite J Like I mentioned, I’ve been studying for an MA in Creative Writing – I’m nearly at the end of the course (I’m actually having my last tutorial later today). I’ve been working on a novel as part of this; if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll probably have seen me talking about wordcounts a few times…

I’ve found, not just from my own experience but from talking to other writers on the course, that it’s vital to have a sense of space and balance in order to be creative. I’m quite a left-brained person much of the time, and I have to confess I have a bit of a “just sit down and get on with it!” approach to most tasks. But when I’ve tried that with my fiction writing, it really hasn’t worked well; sure, I’ll produce something, but I nearly always end up scrapping it later.

The same goes for writing non-fiction, and I know a fair few people reading Regain Your Balance are bloggers: it might not require quite as much creative energy as fiction, but if you’re coming up with a new angle for a blog post, or putting together an ebook, or even recording a podcast or video … that’s a creative activity.

Let’s talk a little about the process of writing Regain Your Balance. Is it a challenge for you to find time and stay on task to write ebooks?

I actually found Regain Your Balance pretty easy to write. I’d learnt a few lessons from my previous ebook (The Blogger’s Guide to Effective Writing), and this helped a lot. I got Regain Your Balance written over a much shorter space of time, using regularly-scheduled sessions, and avoiding distractions during the drafting process.

That often meant putting a “note to self” in the text – to look up a particular quote, or to find a link – so that I didn’t break my flow while writing. As I’m sure most of us have noticed, it’s awfully easy to hop into a browser window to quickly check a link or look up a piece of information, only to end up spending the next half an hour on Twitter…

So I was using a lot of the stuff which I talk about in the “Finding Focus” chapter of the ebook. It’s not rocket science, but it does work (the hard bit is remembering to do it!)

Do you use the strategies in this guide to help you focus with all the different things you have going on?

Definitely. I’m far from perfect – I’m not going to pretend that I manage to stick to all of my advice all of the time. ;-) But I find that life goes much more smoothly when I remember to allow enough space for my creative work, when I take care of my body and physical energy, when I work at my peak creative hours, and so on.

I found writing the ebook a really helpful process because it encouraged me to reflect on what does and what doesn’t work. A lot of the tips come out of times when things were not very balanced in my life – when I learnt the hard way that I needed to make some changes. And by putting all of this together in Regain Your Balance, I aimed to help my readers towards happier, less rushed, more relaxed and truly productive lives.

Huge thanks to Sid Savara for the interview – if you enjoy interviews, check out Blogcast FM, which Sid co-runs with Srinivas Rao. You might be particularly interested in their interview with Ali, and their interview with Thursday (both focused on blogging/writing).

Sid writes about analysis driven personal development at  Click here now to sign up for Personal Development 101 – Sid’s free personal development course.

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2 Responses to “ Regain Your Balance – an Interview with Ali ”

  1. John Soares says:

    Sid, I bought Ali’s ebook and I really like it.

    I dig this interview because it also shows Ali’s process, and that she’s also working on improving in the very same areas she’s writing about.

    Ali, looking forward to your next product…

    • Ali says:

      Cheers, John! I really appreciate the kind words. Not sure when exactly the next product will be yet (or what blog it’ll be launching on ;-) ) but there’ll definitely be a “next”. :-)

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