Work/Life Balance

At a recent women’s networking event, the “insight” question was, “What do you need help with?”

My answer was, “I need some blog ideas.”(1)

About 10-15% of the other women said “I need help with work/life balance.”

DING DING DING, we have a winner!  Especially since I checked my mail when I got home and found out that two other working women I know were down in the same week with headaches. We’re all capable of pushing ourselves too hard, and we all need to achieve balances in our lives, but HOW?

I’ll admit that while I might be able to give some pointers, I’m still learning. I’m not perfect. I’ve had times where I’ve spent more time on work than I should, and I’ve certainly had times where I’ve relaxed more than I should. I’ve been known to err in both directions. I have learned some general guidelines along the way, so here are a few of Mary’s favorite tips.

  1. Have strong boundaries
    Know what is “work” time, what is “family” time, and what is “me” time. We all need these things in different proportions, but make sure to understand and respect your proportions
  2. Be flexible
    Yes, I am listing that right after “having strong boundaries.” Sometimes an urgent work issue might arise during “family” time, but sometimes an urgent family matter might arise during “work” time. Flexibility is often the key.
  3. Share your dream
    If you’re in a new career or starting something new, let your family see the value in your work. It does take a while to get off the ground and have some solid income when you’re first starting out. Make sure to celebrate the “little” things with your family as they happen. Spending some time on a warm weekend at the local frozen yogurt shop or heading to a movie (and getting extra popcorn) will remind your family that they, too, will benefit from mom’s new job.
  4. Share your plan
    If you’re a work-at-home person, sometimes your housemates will need to learn to respect your “do not disturb” sign. If you’re lucky enough to have an office with a door, let the family know that when the door is closed mom is working. If you’re not able to close a door, perhaps some headphones might help you choose your most productive background noise. (2)
  5. Keep a positive attitude
    A lot could be said about having a positive attitude. As a matter of fact, a lot HAS been said about having a positive attitude. Instead of giving my insights, I’ll give you these words from one of my favorite philosophers of all time (3)…

An Attitude of Gratitude when stuff has got you down
Can get you sastisfatitude and turn your world around
An Attitude of Gratitude hooray for what’s o.k.
Say thank you with emphatitude and it’s a brand new day
                    Jimmy Buffett, An Attitude of Gratitude

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(1) I actually wrote down about 5 ideas while people were saying what areas they need assistance with, but work/life balance was a standout – you’ll actually see more blog topics from this discussion in the coming months.

(2) This is coming from someone starting a new business and who spent the first two months of the summer following the same script, the kids would ask, “What’s for lunch?” and I’d answer, “Whatever you make yourself.” They’re 16 and 11, and capable of making a peanut butter sandwich or chicken nuggets.

(3) OKAY, but everyone quotes Louise Hay or Jack Canfield or Joyce Meyer, but nobody actually dances to them. (And if you ever see me in person and want to hear this song, it’s on my phone, can’t go far without Jimmy.)