The Delicate Balance Between Work and Life …

As the manager – of a home, a classroom, a school, an organization, a business – our weeks are filled with details – hundreds of details that need our attention. We must deal with hundreds of pieces of paper; hundreds of conversations, emails, or text messages; hundreds of interactions – in person, over the phone, or via Skype or FaceTime; and hundreds of tasks to be completed. All of this takes focus, skill, a bit of juggling, and extraordinary organizational ability.

And, most of us have both a career and a family, which easily doubles the details we handle. How do we do it all? And, how do we balance the demands of our work and our life?

Strategies, tips, short-cuts, realistic expectations, setting priorities, managing stress, and cutting ourselves some slack in the process of living and working help greatly.

For several years, I was the Director of Work Life Programs for a large business in Boston. My job was to support our 6,000-strong workforce by helping them to find the balance they sought between their work and personal lives. Without balance, we cannot be effective in either arena. So we added relevant informational programs, educational seminars, resources, and discussion groups to what we called our “lunch and learn” workshop program/schedule.

Because the world is moving at an even faster pace today, and finding balance between work and life is still a goal to attain for many, I have included some resources we found helpful. My hope is that you will, too. The following are all available through amazon.com.

The Art of Self-Renewal: Balancing Pressure and Productivity On and Off the Job, by Barbara Mackoff. Ideas for working productively without working yourself to death. Tips on managing stress and balancing work with the rest of life.

First Things First, by Stephen Covey. More life management strategies from the author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

Getting Organized, by Stephanie Winston. Practical tips on using time more efficiently, including ideas for organizing papers and belongings, managing family finances, and teaching children to be organized.

Organized to Be the Best, by Susan Silver. A practical approach to organization skills and time management, with reviews of available resources – from filtering systems and labeling devices, to software and personal information managers.

The Relaxation Response, by Herbert Benson. Simple meditation techniques that can be used to relieve stress.

Time Management for Unmanageable People, by Ann McGee-Cooper. Alternative organization ideas for those who don’t respond to traditional time-management techniques. Suggestions for “visual organizers” who like to keep their work out where it’s easy to find.

The Power of Doing: 12 Strategies for Taking Control of Your Life, by Ivan Burnell. Workable strategies for accomplishing whatever you want in professional, personal, financial, and spiritual life. Includes self tests and tips for how to change.

The Stress Management Source Book, by J. Barton Cunningham. A principle-centered approach, with information on how to deal with stressful work situations, life transitions, and loss. Includes self tests, cites research, and offers catchy sayings.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Reaching Your Goals, by Jeff Davidson. Covers all aspects of developing and implementing goals in seven areas of life. Includes lots of tips, work sheets, illustrations, and side bars. Includes a good section on career goals.

Taking Charge: Every Woman’s Action Guide to Personal, Political, and Professional Success, by Joan Steinau Lester. Explores challenges of change and the effect on the role of women. Offers a 10-Step action plan for achieving goals, realizing potential, and balancing life.

The Working Parents Help Book, by Susan Crites Price and Tom Price. Everything you want to know about a being a working parent, and sharing the load at home. Includes chapters on family-friendly Web sites, single parenting, and how fathers can become more involved.

Don’t Say Yes When You Want to Say No, by Herbert Fensterheim and Jean Baer. Best-selling all-time classic on assertiveness. Offers step-by-step suggestions for expressing needs, changing habits, and reinforcing skills.

Guilt is theTeacher, Love is the Lesson, by Joan Borysenko. Offers a thorough discussion of the subject of guilt and how to manage it.

The Overwhelmed Person’s Guide to Time Management, by Ronni Eisenber. Provides lots of strategies for handling big projects, clutter, interruptions, perfectionism, and procrastination.

Taming the Paper Tiger, by Barbara Hemphill. Tips and techniques for managing all the paper and clutter at work and in your home, including how to set up a work center, organize your home computer, deal with bills and tax information, and keep track of family records and memorabilia.

From this vantage point in my life, looking back on the balancing act between work and life that I performed for forty+ years – sometimes successfully, sometimes not – I can give you a light at the end of the tunnel when I tell you that both work and life will get easier, less frantic, more deliberate, more satisfying, and downright enjoyable.

“This, too, shall pass!” I love this quote! It has followed me everywhere, and early on became one of my balancing strategies, my mantra. I had it written above my office door, where I could read it as each person entered! It helped keep me sane, and gave me the ability to put the situation at hand into perspective. Feel free to use it!

My best to you! And, if you have an effective tool to share, please do. Making connections with one another and sharing what we have learned is what working and living is all about!

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