If you are reading this, you most likely have a job that you dedicate 40+ hours a week to that pays the bills. This is the job that supports you and your lifestyle. However, it mostly likely isn’t your only job. As a society, we forget to talk about and recognize our other “pro-bono” jobs that we allocate time to. Are you a spouse? A parent? (Furry kids count, too) Athlete? Musician? Student? Caretaker? Have a second job/career? How do we go about balancing these roles?
In 2017, my world changed when I became a mother. I was fortunate enough to stay home with my daughter for 18 months before deciding to re-enter the workforce. The top priority in my job search was finding a company that would best support my newest promotion in life, becoming a mom. (Shameless plug to SHR Talent for overdelivering on everything I could have asked for.)
Over the years I’ve developed practices that have best helped me navigate the bumpy rollercoaster ride that is being a working parent. My hope is that they can help you navigate whatever your titles may be.
Madelyn, Amanda, and Evie!
Planning & Balancing
As soon as I become aware of an event requiring me to be out of pocket, I put it on my calendar AND my team’s. Advanced planning helps me ensure all my ducks are in a row and I’ve effectively transitioned responsibilities to my team so I can enjoy my time away worry-free. If you plan well and stay organized, you will enjoy your time away more AND won’t come back to an angry team who had to scramble to figure out what you needed done while away.
On a more granular note, I plan my days out as detailed as possible by making lists and utilizing time blocking. The better planned I am, the smoother the day goes. Days without plans or goals are the days I find myself hopping all over the place. This is stressful and overwhelming, and ultimately leaves me feeling unaccomplished. I’ve found it helpful to block out the last 30 minutes of my day to plan ahead for the following workday so I can get started right away in the morning!
These days, everyone’s busy: most people probably feel like they could work a 19-hour day and still not feel “done”. When planning and prioritizing, the two key words I keep in mind are “balancing” and “realistic”. I need to make realistic goals and balance the different responsibilities of my job according to importance. When making your lists, make sure your A-list items get your attention when your workday starts. Your H-list items can be revisited tomorrow.
Separate your different jobs.
It can be challenging to turn off the work brain when technology is right at your fingertips. Try to figure out how to draw that line for yourself and define what your line is. My goal (and I’m not always perfect) is to be dedicated to my family once I pick my girls up from school until they go to bed. This means staying off my phone and not even looking at that laptop. Once dinner has been eaten, and the girls are bathed and to bed, I do tend to peek at my email to make sure there are no emergencies. This balancing system works for me. For some, that peek may be too much of a tease to dive back in and wrap things up, so it’s up to you to make that call. Know your line and draw your line.
Be realistic about balancing your commitments.
You can’t be everywhere, doing everything, for everyone at the same time. Remember that “P” from a few paragraphs up? Prioritize. Before you accept additional responsibilities at work, join committees, or commit to attend events – sit back and ask yourself if you are overcommitting. There will certainly be times where we do more than we should, but make sure overloading doesn’t become a habit. That is the quickest one way shot to burnout city – fine place to visit if you must, but awful place to live. Balancing a lot can be good, but only if it’s truly balancing–not simply saying yes to everything. There is this odd and unjustified rumor that “saying yes” to everything will make you the best employee or “insert other title”. This is a lie. When we spread ourselves too thin, our performance in all our jobs tends to suffer. When overstretched and overworked, we are not our best selves. Good employers will respect your boundaries and encourage you to choose what’s best for you.
Take Your Days Off.
You have PTO for a reason. It doesn’t have to be an epic vacation to warrant taking time off. R&R is important for your mental health, your physical health, and your engagement in what you do for a living. Balancing all of this would be impossible without a little time off. I am fortunate to have a team that I am confident handles and supports my clients just like I would—which makes taking time away easier. A day off isn’t truly a day off if you are still emailing, returning calls, and dialed in. TAKE YOUR DAYS OFF AND DO IT RIGHT. Trust your team, and hand it off! You are very valuable to your organization, and even more valuable when you are recharged.
At the end of the day, every role you play is important. We all have tips and tricks to be our best selves at work and at home, and I hope mine were helpful in your journey to find balance in all the important parts of your life. If you find yourself unhappy where you currently are, especially in your work life, I encourage you to reach out to us here at SHR Talent so we can explore options that could be more suitable for you!