Do you ever come home to absolute chaos? What is the response you get from your teammate, your partner, your beloved spouse?
Balancing a successful career with an amazing home life can be difficult sometimes. But it is possible to achieve both if you have a plan in place for preventing or dealing with the challenges that we all face. Here are four simple steps that can turn those challenges into opportunities for success.
Step 1 – Focus on effective
Most of us have been told that time management is a key to making our lives work like a well-oiled machine. Personal time management is important, but when you have kids—especially ones participating in extracurricular activities—there sometimes won’t be enough time to get everything done.
The key is to focus on the most effective way to manage the time you do have. For instance: When you take the kids to practice and only have one hour to work, choose a project that can be completed in that time period. Or, sometimes work takes up more of the day than planned, so consider dropping by the kids’ school and taking them lunch. It can make up for other times during your day when your work took priority.
Step 2 – Set responsibilities
Sit down with your partner and decide how you can split up the duties at home so that neither one of you is feeling overwhelmed. Spend some time figuring out what you like to do and what your partner likes and then assign those responsibilities accordingly. What about all the tasks neither of you like to do? Try splitting them up evenly or alternating the tasks regularly so not just one of you gets stuck doing all the work.
When deciding who does what, you should also assess the level of effort each person makes at work to figure out how much effort is available on running the house. If your work is seasonal, maybe you take on more of the house-related responsibilities during slow time and your partner kicks it into gear when you are really busy. Or consider shouldering more of the load during weekdays if your partner has a high- stress job and you can ease back on the weekends.
Step 3 – Be flexible
Steps 1 and 2 can help us balance out our personal lives, but this step will keep you sane. When you have kids, things change constantly and sometimes even a well-thought-out plan just isn’t going to work. When that happens, be flexible.
One way to be flexible may be leveraging the technologies available to you. Virtual conferencing may allow you to stay in town on the day of your son’s big performance at school and attend your important meeting virtually in the afternoon after the performance. You may also be able to save hours of commute time that can be spent with the kids later if you can schedule conference calls with your clients instead of meeting face to face.
Step 4 – Know when enough is enough
In reality, no one expects perfection. In fact, most employers probably find themselves asking, “how does she do it?” which means your accomplishments have already impressed them.
Give yourself the freedom to know when enough is enough. Your career will be amazing even if you don’t work 90 hours a week and sacrifice every Little League game. The world is changing and you should be changing with it.
Women with a career and children can tell you that it isn’t easy and that probably won’t change. But it can be fun and full of excitement instead of stress if we can just remember these steps every day. The next time you think that you can’t have a dream-come-true family life and a fulfilling career, think again.
Lindsay L. Stevenson, CPA, is a manager at Walker & Armstrong LLP.
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