Work-Life Balance

A friend/colleague of mine recently asked for my advice/experience with ‘work-life balance.’

I found it difficult to ‘coach’ this b/c that elusive ‘balance’ is so individually, personally defined.  It’s defined by one’s life perspective, motives, goals, values, beliefs.  And mine are mine alone that …

‘No Success In Life Can Compensate For Failure In The Home’ …

Nevertheless, below is some of what I shared with him …

It’s all connected.  Spiritual-Physical-Emotional-Mental-Professional.  The word balance is misleading.  Harmony is a better word.  It’s more like an orchestra.  All of the instruments matter.  But, they don’t matter equally.  But, if even a minor instrument is ‘off’ the whole suffers.

The book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has sold over 15 million copies.  I read it about 12 years ago.  It had had a huge impact on me.  There’s several principles there that help me be ‘effective’ aka balanced.  If you haven’t read it, read it.  If it’s been 12 years ago, read it again.  Here’s the cliff notes:

I’m sure one of the most universal new leader experiences is to have your spouse say something to the effect of …

  • I never see you anymore.
  • You’re not listening … Or … Have you been listening to anything I’ve said?
  • You’ve been saying it’s going to be worth it for 2 years.  When will it be worth it?
  • You do remember why you go to work everyday, don’t you?
  • You’re not as happy as you used to be.
  • Your son started walking yesterday.

I’ve had several wake up calls by my wife, Jessica.  Fortunately, I took each one seriously and she has course corrected me back to the correct course (which is focused on her happiness and on presiding in my home and on having a deep relationship with my kids).

I’ve learned some things …

  • I need to make weekly plans/goals/schedule for my different roles (myself, husband, father, worker, church callings) in that order.  I put them on the calendar: work out/temple/read, date night each week/flowers, one-on-ones with kids on Sunday, ichat with kids if I’m traveling, home teaching visits.  I’m unorganized.  I need to force things onto the calendar or I forget, neglect, hurt feelings.  I make time for lunch appointments to interview or go marketing so I started to do the same thing for lunches with Jess. “I’ll be gone for a an hour or so.  I’ve got a lunch appointment.”
  • We have to go out every week.  I asked her to go on a date with me this Friday 2 weeks ago.  We’re going to a small, local theater. I don’t make plans that affect her (travel) before talking to her.   I have a bookmark folder on my browser toolbar with websites of local theaters, etc. (watching a video at home doesn’t count)
  • I buy flowers for her online for the future when I know I’m going to be working late (during boot camps or travel)
  • I encourage my partners to leave work at the facility by not emailing them or calling them at home and not replying to emails at night if it can wait until the morning.  Sometimes it can’t wait.
  • Related to that … I leave my laptop at work/facility most of the time.  Leave the laptop at work.  Leave the laptop at work.
  • If I HAVE to work on something at home, it’s after I’ve helped to put the kids in bed.
  • I do the dishes most nights b/c that matters to her more than just about anything I say.
  • I text her love notes during the day.  (I put an alarm in my calendar to do that).
  • I resist the temptation to reply to emails during Sunday if they can wait until Monday.  I’ve stopped bringing my iphone into church.  I use paper scriptures.
  • I don’t share with Jess what’s going on at work.  Sometimes she asks and I give her general answers.  I do not get into the detail, the drama, the stress.  I don’t talk about census.   I don’t talk about the department head(s) that’s keeping me up at night.  That’s what my cluster partners are for.

Probably the most important thing that has brought sanity, harmony, and ‘distance’ to my life is MONKEYS.  See your laptop and briefcase for what it is … A monkey cage.  Monkeys have one desire – to destroy your marriage.  I’m not joking.  You should listen to the whole thing.  Here are my thoughts on Monkeys:

I hope something here helps.


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