We're Listening

Posted by: Michelle Conlin on June 25

Last week, I posted the following question on LinkedIn: How do you balance work-life responsibilities? I received 14 thoughtful responses and relaxation tips ranging from turning off my BlackBerry to fly fishing. Here are some of the best.

Reader Comments

Hermes Aleman

June 25, 2008 12:18 PM

Just like any other professional, I want to be successful and provide a good life for my family. But I also know that my lifetime is limited, so I only focus on things that I love to do.

When I work I give 150% and meet my goals, but once I get home and I walk into my house I turn off my BlackBerry and I don’t check emails or voicemails until the next working day.

Once I am at home, my world is my wife, son and my two golden retrievers. We do everything together and we keep it simple: visit our families, travel in our out of the country, volunteer, etc.

Keep your finances in order. I was a private banker for seven years and I met individuals that made over seven figures a year, but the more they made, they more they spent. They always felt they needed to work more to make more money. Unfortunately, they were great at work, but most of them were divorced or had family problems. Money has a funny way to stress people.

My prior manager gave me the following advice the first month I became a private banker: “Meet your needs and control your wants so that you have financial freedom and don’t become a slave of your work.” So, now I work to live, NOT live to work.

Here are a few tips:

Set up automatic payments for your bills from either your checking account or one credit card.

If you need help in the house, hire someone to clean it for you.

Save for your retirement!

If you have any children, simplify their activities. (Parents get all stressed out running from activity to activity.) Enjoy your kids.

Take your vacation time.

Do things you love.

Judi McLaughlin

June 25, 2008 12:22 PM

I set clear limits. As a consultant who works from home, I am very clear with my clients as to my availability and do not deviate from my stated office hours. There are times I have to remind people of my days in/out of the office, but I am not apologetic for it; I simply remind them of my bandwith and stick to it.

I delegate where I think there are time sinks. I have a cleaning person who comes in twice a month. Otherwise, I'd spend every spare moment trying to keep up with the housework. If there are times I need to order groceries online, I do it.

My time with my kids is my time with my kids. No multitasking, no phone calls, no emails. I am with them and that is that.

I don't own a BlackBerry b/c truly, there isn't ANYTHING that needs to be attended to that urgently in my life.

And most importantly, my mantra is, "Guilt is a wasted emotion." I don't apologize for my lifestyle or how I prioritize. I don't feel guilt about working, and I don't feel bad if I have a sitter come over on a Saturday so I can go get my hair cut and my nails done. I believe taking care of myself is an act of self-preservation, not selfishness.

Scott Roberts

June 25, 2008 12:24 PM

The key is to prioritize the things that are most important in your life outside your career (your spouse, kids, exercise) and then make a commitment to incorporate those things into your daily routine. I find that if I am able to make breakfast for my kids or get home in time to read them a story before they go to bed, I don't mind doing email and working late at night.

Julie Cohen

June 25, 2008 12:32 PM

Thanks for asking such an important question! I view my work-life responsibilities as a constantly changing mix of priorities. Based on my daily, weekly, monthly, or annual goals, I make different choices. All or most of these choices reflect my values: to be a good parent and spouse, build a profitable and impactful business, contribute to my community, and to take care of myself and others that matter to me. It's a constant game of setting boundaries, saying "no," and re-evaluating what is most important.

Addie F.

June 30, 2008 01:54 PM

I recently began my career as an accountant and already find myself staying at work past the conventional 5pm. My girlfriend tells me it's an indication of my work-life balance in the future and while this is true I always get this urge to get as much paper off my desk as possible even if it means staying later.

My issue is the feeling of guilt and somewhat fear of pile-up that may result if i leave at 5pm without getting through the stack I had planned on eliminating


I have always been under the impression that as I move up the ladder, I can leave earlier but reading all these comments has given me an epiphany. My idea of the career ladder is a fantasy and it will only get worse.


I now realize that while paperwork is of a physical nature, decision makers can easily fall into the trap of mentally bringing their work home without any of the paper via the blackberry, etc. I must find a way to break out of the cycle I have begun before it becomes detrimental to the relationships I will cultivate in the future.

Oliver Tabamo

June 30, 2008 03:23 PM

Last year, I got married and started a new job as an IT consultant with the benefit of working from home. Armed with a laptop and Blackberry, I would sometimes work well past 11PM and on most weekends. Needless to say, my wife really hated it, especially when the blackberry would go off after hours, and I'd drop everything to answer it. It was as if I was trying to prove myself more to my employer than I was to my wife. It wasn't the best way to start off a new marriage, I gained about 30 lbs, and I started to question if the income I was earning was worth the sacrifice.

Well fast forward a year and now I'm still an IT consultant for a different company. My hours are now regulated to 40 hours a week. Blackberry emails after 6PM don't get read until the train ride the following day, and with the longer summer days, I was able to shed the extra lbs by riding my bike, running, playing golf, and playing tennis with my wife. These activities are very relaxing, help me clear my mind, and sometimes I even figure out work issues that I left at the office. As for my marriage...we're planning on starting a family.

David Y

July 3, 2008 12:47 AM

Some Golden Wisdom for all. The following quotes can not be originated from men, as by our own understanding, we simply can not accept and likely to reject. You see, things written by mere men are easier to accept, as it is not radically different from our own way of understanding. Here are some quotes that provoke us: "Seek first the Kingdom of God (Heaven), and all these (everything that we ever need to live our lives on earth) shall be ADDED onto us." "What would benefit a man if he had gained all things yet lose his soul." "Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom."

What do the few quotes got to do with the subject? Priority. We want more wealth, we want the best for our families, we want our children to be influenced by the best values and best role models, we want all things well in our own and families' lives, i.e. good health, good wealth and our children growing up and being respectable people in society. What and who can really keeps us sane, continuously inspire us, constantly ensuring us, keeping us (our own selves) secured and loved always in His promises (amidst of all the "hoo hahs" we face at work and in life), and of course knowing where we will be after our last breath here. We can't really find a constant and dependable source through other men (women), as we all know that everyone is fallible. Of course there are many times, we get good counsel and console from our closest of friends and definitely from our family members. Even so, deep down we desire to have someone who is all knowing, all wise and all loving to counsel us sometimes.

And then, there is the constant concern that our children are being influenced by celebrities who are full of problems themselves. So, where, what and who can be the constant inspirational models to our children. Us as parents. But where do we (as parents) tap onto (the source) to give us the wisdom, courage, strength, patience, love to do what we need to do, and do it consistently?

This is the summary. I was a businessman determined at almost all cost to achieve the things that I wanted to achieve in business. Eventually, it took its toll on my health, and marriage life. Thank God that I am blessed with a "super" understanding, loving, supporting and patient wife. 6 years ago, everything changed. I simply accepted and believed that I need Jesus in my life. It took much courage but I have decided that I have nothing to lose but perhaps something good to gain. Something supernatural happens when we (men and women) decide in our hearts sincerely to believe in Jesus and started to explore and desire to learn from the Bible.

I changed, I had courage that I never knew before to apologize to my loved ones of all the rubbish and lies I had put into their lives. I never knew I can be so much better and wiser in running my business (even though I had all the academic qualifications). My business transformed over time with the new values. It is almost like "I can see things clearly now." Insincere employees are weeded out; recruitment policies now strengthen with greater emphasis placed on the values and character of the person. Business is growing progressively across Asia. My marriage and family life now with 2 children is wonderfully blessed. There is no such thing as a perfect marriage or a perfect family. There are issues that we need to tackle but we now tackle every issue with wisdom that is above ourselves. What is better than bringing up our children with God's words. It surely beats all the nonsense literature, films and music that are filled with lust, envy, jealousy, greed, self-centeredness and self-destructive motives. Am I saying that by doing such equates to bringing up perfect children? No. Can we really prevent our children from being affected by the things surrounding them? No. But at least, the very least, my wife and I have the peace to know that they are being brought up with a good foundation for them to make their own decisions when they need to at different stages in their lives.

Our views in regards to wealth building has changed too, we are no longer working for ourselves but to be a blessing to as many as we can reach.

It is not religion that can free us from the “issues” of life. It is really a call to acknowledge that we are meant to be loved and to love forever. Love is eternal. Life is not on earth. So there is a missing link to this equation. It is really about a loving father wanting all His children to be back with Him when everything is over here on earth.

This is really about priority. Put God first in our lives, and surely everything else shall falls into place.

Sounds good. Here is the secret. Tear down the PRIDE in our hearts. It does us no good at all. The self "all knowing", "all in my control", "all rational thinking" be put down. Just like a child, have an open heart and mind and just BELIEVE. Wonderful things can happen when we just BELIEVE. "The Truth shall set you free." Our prayer to all who is reading this is the abundance of blessings be upon you and your family. God bless. Attend a congregation that is God’s Words centered, not “men” centered. You will be blessed.

Prak

July 3, 2008 01:36 AM

Work-life balance is a topic of perennial debate. The article here talks more of how individuals manage it. It is more like how individuals manage chaotic traffic. Such individual attempts may make good reading but they do not help resolve this issue substantially.
First we must accept that this is a much bigger and serious issue than what we believe it to be. And unless we tackle the root cause it is not going to go away. And individual attempts to shield oneself from over work may not be the lasting solution.
What are the root causes? An ambition to become number one in wealth,fame,power. These problems are as old as mankind but they have been glamorised by the American model of capitalism. This is the type of society that the second wealthiest person in the world feels that he is poor. Larry Ellison of Oracle always had a grouse that he could not beat Bill Gates.
Is it possible to move away from this rate race? To a limited extent yes. I will give reasons as to why this can not be fully implemented. If you decide to limit your earnings to satify your needs, the cost of meeting your needs itself is greately influenced by the rich. A house rent which was costing say $800 would now cost $1500 because some rich and wealthy are moving to your locality or there is general shortage of occupiable space.
This problem is not only in Merica, it has also started affecting developing countries in a big way. The underlying causes appear to be large scale migration of people, disparities in wealth and the buying power of a few. Then for others just to remain where they are they have to keep slogging.

abhishek

July 4, 2008 10:08 AM

I agree totally with Prak's comments down below. Thats the only realistic opinion on this matter. We all know deep inside we want those very trappings of the rich. Why not. One life. We want it all.

Hursh

July 4, 2008 11:58 AM

Hello, After reading all the comments, I found it to be intresting the same issues evoke same responses across the world. I lived and worked in MidEast as well as India. Even in ME the responses were the same -- office is office and home is home, do not mix both. India also says the same, western world also evokes the same response. People have different ways to respond to same issues however all find family to be most important and work as a means to sustain the family and enjoyment with family. After working for almost 15 years in very competitive IT companies and in very high growth markets I realise, stress is a given component of these jobs. The magic is when you learn how to manage the stress. It is simple - Just switch off email + B/berry and mind from office. Focus on just simple things of life - rain, wind, new flowers, green grass, simple food, family visits, stroll in gardens etc. It does wonders abt your and families physical and mental health. try these - there are no such sudden things which will change our life for better -- it is accumlation of beautiful small things which makes the difference.

John

July 7, 2008 12:34 PM

My wife and I have a very good life with our two kids. We have an above average house on a hillside overlooking a lake in Austin, Texas. We have daughters who are six and three years old. We have achieved a great work life balance through strategic planning. For example, we achieved advanced degrees in our single years for career paths which pay well, we paid off all our debts the first year of our marriage, paid cash for our cars and our vacations, and have contributed the maximum to our 401K plans. We built our house with virtually no upgrades. We paid cash for the upgrades over time and did as much of the labor ourselves as we safely could. We both work and are probably considered underachievers by our peers even though we have a much higher standard of living than the average person. Our employers provide flexible work hours. So, we go to work early and leave early. This makes the most efficient use of our time by eliminating rush hour traffic. In the summer, we are able to pick up our daughters from daycare and spend over three hours swimming in the lake and having a picnic before we give the girls baths and read them their bedtime stories. We get get the kids to bed by 8:30pm and still have an hour of quality time to spend together every night before going to sleep. We also take advantage of as many free outdoor concerts and other free entertainment opportunities as we can. Free entertainment close to home helps reduce both gas consumption and entertainment costs.

Joyce Maroney

July 31, 2008 04:43 PM

One important strategy to achieve balance that we've employed in our family is to commit ourselves to volunteer organizations outside of work. My husband's been an assistant Scoutmaster for years. I've served on a variety of non-profit boards and currently serve on the Finance Committee for my town. Having these commitments outside of work not only helps these deserving organizations, but also compels us to stop working at a reasonable time in order to fulfill these other commitments.

Our son will have his Eagle Scout ceremony this coming Thursday. He has had a phenomenal experience in scouting, attributable in large measure to his scoutmaster. This man and his wife have invested considerable after work, weekend, and vacation time to keep this troop operating for the last 12 years. Their work situations have given them the flexibility to do so.

Boy scouting has been great for my son and his peers. As they’ve moved through the ranks, they’ve earned not only merit badges, but an increasing confidence in their individual ability to take control of their lives. Ten years ago, they were the little kids, intimidated by the big kids. Today, they’re the big kids- moving on to college and ready to leave the protection of our small town for a much larger world. They’ve become the mentors and leaders the younger kids look to for lessons from using a knife safely to navigating the bumpy middle school and high school years. The foundation of personal responsibility, integrity and teamwork they take from scouting will serve them well wherever they land in their future work lives.

None of this is possible without adult leadership. Scouting, like most youth organizations, depends on adults to carve out time from work and other obligations to keep a troop alive. Scoutmasters sacrifice weekends and vacations to lead their troops. Families of scouts help with fundraising events and camping trips, and support their kids in completing their merit badges.

Scouting teaches kids to set long term goals and to persist for however long it takes to reach those goals. Scouting also teaches them that family, community and spirituality are as important to a full life as pursuing individual goals. The adult leaders who model this behavior for the kids are teaching them lessons every bit as meaningful as anything in the Boy Scout Handbook. For many workers today, it’s hard to escape the demands of their jobs to make time for “extras” like scouting. Let’s hope, for the sake of the kids (our future workforce), that forward thinking organizations continue to provide their employees with the flexibility in their lives to do so.

Joyce Maroney
www.workforceinstitute.org

Charles S. Merroth

August 21, 2008 10:22 AM


I am not sure how these comments interact so this refers to a comment I just made on(Work-life Balance is an Outdated Goal).Parenting is the most important job of any.My comment suggested a solution that could alleviate most societal problems creating havoc in our society.

Thank you for your interest. This blog is no longer active.

 

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Cali Ressler, Jody Thompson and Brazen CareeristBest Buy HR renegades Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson and Yahoo’s “Brazen Careerist” columnist, Penelope Trunk, tell us how to juggle responsibilities without going crazy.

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