How to Keep Balance between Career and Family

Posted in Balanced Relationships, Work/Life Balance | August 21, 2012 |

There are many people who have successful careers, stable marriages, happy kids and who at the same time look good, find time for everything and are not stressed out.

I always admired them and wondered how on earth did they manage to do it? Many of us have much less responsibility and still feel tired, stressed and not always cope with the situation.

Then I went back to my experiences, recalled some mistakes and came up with a list of tips that will help us join the group of can-do-it-all happy women and men.

1. Stick to your working hours

Make a rule for yourself that you will not be working overtime. There is almost never any justification for working on weekends or holidays. Nothing will collapse at the office if you don’t, believe me.

2. Evenings are yours

Do not check your mail or pick up your corporate phone in the evenings.
If you are home only physically the effect will be the same as if you have not been back from the office yet. Evenings are for you and your family.

3. Schedule your housework

There are always many things to do at home. Things most of us do not like doing. So it is better to dedicate a specific time to them, get them done and enjoy your free time. It always works better than dragging out the unpleasant housework for the whole day.

4. Lunch time

If you take a quick bite you will be able to use the remaining lunch time to get some things out of the way. Take that dress to the dry-cleaner’s, buy that present, go to the bank, even fit in a 20-minute workout or simply meet your friend for lunch. A small task completed every day will free up your weekends.

5. Do not mix

One should realize that personal life and career are completely different and, even more, separate aspects of your life. They should not be mixed. Make sure you don’t bring your personal problems to the office and vice versa. The quality of your work should not suffer because of personal issues and your personal life should not suffer because of your career. If you don’t manage to separate the two then at some point you will have to make a choice. So do your best to keep the balance.

6. Get a hobby

Make sure that you have something else besides the household and work to be involved in –get a hobby. It’s important to have an enjoyable activity for the times when you are not at work , otherwise household, TV shows and kids will drag you into the state of a lazy lifestyle. You will not spend your time productively. In order to avoid that make sure that you have something exciting to do. Anything you like will do – reading, sports, writing, working on cars, whatever…

7. Include fun

If you stick to the schedule work-home-work life will not be exciting enough. At some point you may end up feeling like a robot. It will be very nice to get involved in different activities, which will make you get out of the office and the house. This will refresh your state of mind, make you change the usual environment and help you gain positive energy. Spend time outside with your family, go to dance classes, book club meetings – choose whatever fun is for you.

Needless to say that I do not believe when people say that having both career and family is not possible. It definitely is. Simply balancing the two needs extra organization, energy and commitment. And of course a desire, since many are quite happy by choosing only one out of the two.

What about you? What keeps you insane while balancing between home and career? Let’s make this list longer.

Anastasiya’s Note: I agree with Ani completely, finding a perfect career-family balance is challenging but not impossible. It means making decisions and sacrifices that help you live according to your deep priorities.

As I am writing this, my husband and I have just finished rewatching one of our favorite movies The Devil Wears Prada. It couldn’t remind me more about the importance of making the right choice that helps you be your authentic self. Some of us are Mirandas, while others are Andies and Nates. We can keep our balance only as long as we accept our deep life goals and priorities, and of course be prepared to deal with the consequences of our choices.

To continue Ani’s wonderful list I would add a few tips that I personally found helpful:

8. Learn to be assertive

Nothing can be more important in the work environment or even at home. There is no hope for balanced living if the only answer that you give anyone is “yes.” You need to be able to reject requests that are not important to you or interfere with your life (like hosting a family reunion at your house during the busiest week of the year or planning an office party because no one else wants to mess with it.) I talk more about how to be assertive and regain your life balance in my ecouse Reclaim Your Life in 15 days.

9. Schedule time for the unexpected

Try to plan only for 80% of your day and leave the other 20% for the last-minute project at work, a flat tire when you are taking your child to school, or a romantic surprise for your spouse. If you have any time left over at the end of the day try to get a head start on the next day’s tasks or enjoy a little break.

10. Have weekly talks with your spouse or your kids (if they are old enough)

Don’t make it official or too serious but schedule some time to talk over some household matters, discuss your work load or give some feedback about the relationships in your family. If all members of the family are living busy lifestyles it’s easy to lose the communication line and get lost in the chaos of misunderstandings and false assumptions.

How do you balance career and family? Share your tips and questions below.

Smart Thoughts (25)

  1. Ani says:

    Thanx Anastasia for having me over again :)

  2. Angie says:

    Useful post – thank you.

    I think these days, with our 24/7 lifestyle it is increasingly harder to disconnect work and life: but increasingly important to do so.

    For many people there is now a blurred line between work and home life, and many bosses don’t see a problem with contacting staff after hours, especially if their staff members have a company phone. Expectations to take your job home with you are high, and with always-on mobile phones and internet connections, difficult to avoid. I can’t see that getting any easier, but as you so rightly point out, you need to draw the boundaries for your own benefit, health and sanity :-)

    I find it it tough as a person who works from home, where work/life balance is even harder – both are constantly intermingling. This can sometimes be useful, but is often detrimental, with many clients having to be taught to respect my personal space. I regularly get calls on Saturday and Sunday, even though I clearly state Mon-Fri 9-5. Seems that when you work from home you are always at work, and alwyas available in some people’s minds!

    • Ani says:

      Thanx Angie,

      Working from home is tricky-er I guess.
      Few days ago I thought of writing about more specific points about how to keeo balance, keep the focus on work and managing procrastination while working from home.

      Hopefully I will have it pretty soon.

  3. Bobbi Emel says:

    Great tips, Ani. Thanks!

  4. Priska says:

    I could never get the work life balance thing right because as Angie pointed out, we live in a mobile world and bosses nowadays expect you to be on call.
    I’ve now left the busyness of life behind to get on with the business of life where there is no differentiation between work and leisure.

  5. I had to leave a stressful job behind and step back down the ladder in order to find some balance. It included a pay cut, but I’m so thankful I did it. I still over-schedule though! Great thoughts, Ani, and I’ll work on that 80/20 balance!

  6. I agree Ani, and it’s not just career and family, but having a career and a life for yourself simply! over here in China, we have the luxury of very affordable help with maids and nannys to do the housework and baby sit children for those “date nights”. My husband and I, for this reason, plan to stay in China for a few more years so we can balance the life better when we have children in another year or two!
    Noch Noch

  7. Thanks so much. These are such great reminders. The two that I’m going to focus on is “Get a hobby” and “Have fun.” Not sure I have time for a hobby! But, yes, it is important!

  8. Jason Harvey says:

    I am a big fan of a weekly no technology day. Basically you have a day with no computers, cell phones or TV.

    You can use some of the day to do family activities, work on a hobby, exercise, read, visit friends.

    It is amazing how much time you have when you don’t have all of these distractions.

  9. Lee J Tyler says:

    Congratulations, Ani on following your passions in life. I think your tips (esp. 3 and 5 for me) are very powerful and resonate with me. I wish I had the ability to go back in time and read this before I became a workabholic! Which has changed, by nature’s hand as things do. Thank you for this and it’s very important for us to keep hobbies and interests for our own that we can escape to. There is no one, as the oft said phrase goes, who wishes on their deathbed that they had spent more time at work. Great article.

    • Ani says:

      Thanx for the comment Lee.
      I guess the most important thing is not to lose yourself in career race and dedicate at least as much time and effort in yourself, your hobbies and passions. I see no sense in sacrificing myself to corporation which may fire me any day it chooses.

  10. Amit Amin says:

    Or just don’t have a family! That makes it easy :)

  11. catwoman says:

    my gosh.. this is what i really need for now.. thank u so much for this article
    indeed a worth sharing to my husband! promise as soon as i able to fix things out you will have my testimony :-) please pray for us :-)

  12. Lee J Tyler says:

    Yes, you are so right. I had been working all my life to support a sick mother and after college and several corporate ladder jobs, worked for a non-profit w/o an assistant (non-profit…) with 4 jobs in 1. On call every weekend if not at work, travel, dinners, etc. The summers were taken over with GCing renovations on facilities & bringing profits in for the company, only to have the boss come in & re-apportion my carefully worked budget for some downfall in another area (every year). Then I got sick. Never had time to start a family & now I can’t. In a nut-shell, that’s a lesson for those who do not head this life balance article. From some of the other comments, it sounds like I might not be alone. Good tips, indeed.

  13. Naida Holdsworth says:

    I truly appreciate this article.Much thanks again. Cool.