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 Zoom 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

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 Your 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 breathing 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 Positive Doing: Twelve Strategies for Taking Control of Your Life by Ivan Burnell. Workable strategies for accomplishing whatever you want in your 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.

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

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!” This quote 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. I used whatever I could, whenever, to keep myself centered and focused.

For more ideas, tools, and strategies to use in your workplace, take a look at my early childhood leadership book: Beginning to End: The Life Cycle of a Child Care Center—A Director’s Storyavailable on are my real-life, time-tested tips and techniques, and all of them worked successfully in my four childcare centers. I am pleased to share what I have learned. Take what resonates with you and then, one day, pass on what you learn to the next generation of early childhood colleagues. My best to you!

This entry was posted in Child Care, Early Childhood, Early Childhood Curriculum, Early Childhood Leadership, Early Childhood Professionals, Early Childhood Teachers, For Early Childhood Directors, Managing Early Childhood Programs, Performance Management Skills, Quality Early Education and Care, Training for Early Childhood Directors, Training for Early Childhood Professionals. Bookmark the permalink.

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