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5 Ways Parents Balance Work and Life


9/6/2011 3:43:56 PM

By Debra Wheatman, Glassdoor.com

As we embark on the cusp of a new school year and children head back to the classroom, high-powered mothers and fathers working full-time must strike a healthy balance between meeting the needs of employers and fulfilling their responsibilities to the family. Given the economic crunch, and the ever-increasing demands for productivity in the workplace, this is no easy task!

While it can be a challenge to juggle family life with career commitments, particularly at the C-level, the key to success lies in preparation and a willingness to bend traditional gender-based roles. By taking a business-like attitude to managing the family, executives can set realistic goals and objectives to keep life running smoothly, both in and out of the office.

Setting Priorities
Often, high-achieving performers don’t know when or how to say no. While it is nice to think that those asking for your help, either personally or professionally, cannot possibly live without you; the truth is that if you say no, they will find another way to get their needs met.

Consider each commitment you make carefully. Decide whether or not it is a MUST do or a NICE to do. If you overload yourself with low priority initiatives, you will burn out both on the job and at home.

Working Smarter Not Harder
Assess how you spend your time. Are there things you can do more efficiently? Would you be able to delegate certain tasks to others? Maybe you can delegate some personal priorities to older children; in the workplace perhaps you can assign a project to a subordinate.

Look at your total workload, both professional and personal, and determine ways to streamline your operations. I know one executive who dictates business letters while she commutes to work. When she gets in, she hands the recording to her administrative assistant, and voila!

Resolving Schedule Conflicts
School schedules are SO not set up to coincide with work schedules. Think ahead. Some people are able to hire private childcare; others opt for after school programs. Many parents form “cooperatives.” If you collaborate with other parents, then you may only need to leave the office early once a month, rather than twice a week.

Discuss options with your child’s school and confer with other parents. Whatever you do, build in contingency plans. If your child has a cough and the nurse calls 10 minutes before your Board meeting, you need to know what the game plan is.

Negotiating Flex-Time
With virtual private networks (VPNs) and Wi-Fi, flex-time is becoming easier than ever. As long as you get your work done, taking planned time off to manage family obligations is do-able. You will need to balance this, of course. Perception at the office is a consideration. Knowing your company’s culture for these types of flexible arrangements will enable you to make smart decisions.

Make sure your reputation for producing results remains untarnished; the same goes for your family life. While you can certainly bring your work home, be sure to take breaks and spend quality time with your family so they don’t feel ignored or neglected.

Being Your Word
Do what you say you will – follow through! It sounds simple, right? Simple, but not always easy. Lack of credibility can wreak havoc on your social reputation, your family life, and your professional growth. Protect your professional brand and your personal brand!

If you can’t make a deadline for something you promised to complete, give others as much notice as possible. Set new deadlines and re-commit. In short, be respectful of others’ expectations and be true to your word. Consistent communication and follow through will garner respect at the office and at home.

Smart executives know that running a family is just as challenging as running a business and have learned that both “jobs” require strategic planning and skillful negotiation. Of course, you can’t be all things to all people. That is why setting priorities and evaluating your workload on a regular basis is so important. Conduct a quarterly review and readjust your fiscal plan as necessary to achieve maximum ROI from all you do in both your career and your personal life.

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