In addition to being an attorney, Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com, a company that offers ongoing support services to North American businesses. Her biggest challenge, however, is balancing her professional career with her family life. Here, the working wife, mother of two, and volunteer extraordinaire gives her top tips for balancing the personal and the professional.
Stay organized with a list
If you leave the house each morning with a bulleted—and realistic—list of what you must accomplish for that day, you are far more likely to get it done than if you just move from thing to thing as you remember it. Even better, prioritize your list so that if you don’t get to the items on the bottom, it’s not a catastrophe. But make sure the items on the bottom aren’t there because you just don’t feel like doing them.
Plan the Night Before
The mornings can be crazy. It’s important to plan the clothes, pack your bags, and have the kids’ stuff ready the night before. There’s too much to think of as you’re rushing out the door.
Don’t feel guilty for taking time to yourself
You’re a better person when you’re calm. Occasionally take time away from work and family, and just focus on you. Whether it’s exercise, a trip to pamper yourself, reading a book, or time out with friends, stress relief is critically important to on-going maintenance of a work-life balance.
Stay on task
With so much going on within your personal and business life, it’s easy to get distracted. You’re helping your kids with their homework, and then get a call—no one wins because you’re distracted in both directions. Finish one thing—let calls and e-mails go until you do—and then move on to the next thing. Getting off task and letting minute things distract you can create a huge time loss. This can be avoided by promising yourself you will not move on until the task at hand is complete.
Peace of mind and perspective often come with exercise. Exercise is often the first thing to go when you get busy, but it is one of the most essential tools to attain balance and peace in your life. Don’t forget or abandon exercise because you’re busy. At least get in 20 minutes of walking every day.
Think on Your Walk To and From
Use “free” time as you’re walking to the bathroom at the office or driving to pick up the kids to think about your next important move. If you’re heading back from someone’s office to your own, decide on your way what you need to accomplish in the next 30 minutes, and then sit down and do it. Don’t lose focus.
Share the responsibility
Whether it’s with family or friends, sharing responsibilities can be freeing for someone balancing work and life. This means that you pick up someone else’s child and they’ll get yours next time. Make sure you engage your spouse, and local relatives can also really help. It’s a win-win-win when all the family is involved: first, all the burden isn’t on you; second, the kids get a happy you and more time with other relatives who love them; and third, the relatives enjoy time with the kids and love helping the busy working parent.
Take deep breaths
When it gets harried, and balancing work and life does, it’s time to breathe. In and out—four seconds of your life. It’s simple, quick, and creates clarity. It enables you to focus on the task at hand.