Balancing Work And FamilyWritten By: Walter Berry
Article Date: 11-01-2005
Copyright(C) 2008 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
Put the big rocks in first.
Is it just me, or do others find it challenging to balance everything that goes on in our lives? How do we decide how much time to spend on work, family, community activity, recreation, etc?
I know it's not easy. I know there's no one answer that fits everyone. And I know that the "balance" is always changing.
I believe that it's hard to get a handle on it unless, as Stephen Covey would say, you "start with the end in mind".
What is your highest priority? Do you work in order to support your family or is the purpose of your family to support your work?
If family is important to you, then you need to set time aside for them. I'm not very successful at that unless I put my family's schedule into my calendar first.
Covey uses an illustration in which he has a bucket, large rock, small rocks, and sand. The bucket represents your calendar and the rocks represent your priorities, larger being a higher priority.
If you put the sand in the bucket first, you will never get the big rocks in. But if you put the big rocks in first, and then add the smaller rocks and then the sand, the smaller items will mold in around the bigger ones.
I've found that if I get my children's school schedule and other activities into my calendar first, I'll have a chance of moving other commitments around. It doesn't mean that I won't have conflicts, but at least I'll have the opportunity to make a few adjustments in advance.
One thing I've done with my children, although I don't do it nearly often enough, is to take them out one at a time, so it's just the two of us.
We'll go to breakfast before school or to dinner once in a while. There's a time to do these things on the spur of the moment, but I've also found that scheduling it in advance can create some anticipation, which is also fun.
I've also found that for me, doing it spur of the moment means not doing it very often. I need to take this same action with my wife. In fact, I think I'll take her to dinner before I let her read this article.
Another thing I know I need to do a better job of is setting family goals. I'll set goals at work, although not enough, but I'll seldom set goals at home. A goal might be as simple as meeting weekly to review each of our schedules. Or it might be as big as planning a significant vacation together.
My youngest son thinks that a summer vacation trip means an AED board meeting. He already knows where we're going next summer. Actually these summer board meetings have been a great way to mix business and pleasure. My family has thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to get to know others in our industry in a family setting.
Some of the editorials I've written this year, I've written not because I feel like I excel at something, but to remind me that I could do a better job. This is one such editorial.
Whether you have a family or not, it's important to set priorities in your life. I hope you will take the time to figure out what the big rocks should be in your life and then to put them in first.
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