Success Strategies: Successful Managers Discuss the Balancing Act of Work vs. Life

balancing work life

Successful business people become successful because they devote far more than 40 hours per week to their work. It is common for very successful people to work 60+ hours per week and volunteer on boards and committees an additional 5-10 hours per week. Whew! Where is their time for a personal life? How can they fit in “down time”, relaxation, family, and fun? We asked successful managers their success strategy for balancing work life and personal life.

“When I attended a leadership training seminar at the Center for Creative Leadership, we were given a lapel pin with 4 dots on it. Each of the dots was to represent a goal that we were to set for ourselves. First, was a personal goal. Second, was a professional goal. Third, was a family goal. Fourth, was to be a spiritual goal. Every time I see that pin I am forced to evaluate the balance in my life.” Dr. Stan Herman, Vice President, Education Policy and Issues Center

“Balancing work and personal time is a matter of scheduling. We schedule our meetings, work and volunteers time. We also have to schedule personal time. I don’t mean that everything we do on a personal level is scheduled but I do mean that vacation time must be taken and needs to be scheduled. Taking vacations are reinvigorating and make us more productive when we come back to work.” Marcia Barber, Executive Director, Girl Scouts of Western Pennsylvania

“To be successful in anything you have to devote time and energy, and you have to be fulfilled personally. This is true whether you are talking about work, family, health, God or any other aspect of your life. I try to make sure I am successful in my relationships with Family and God first. The success at work just seems to come.” Bill Everett, CEO, PROJEX Company

“Creating and maintaining a routine which builds in down time and family fun time is helpful, particularly if you have children. However, I think expecting to achieve a balance between work and your personal life is unreasonable. Try to create your routine and stick to it as much as possible but most importantly learn to accept and enjoy a little bit of chaos.” Lisa Clark, Attorney, Pietragallo, Bosick and Gordon

“Remember to sleep. When trying to juggle work, family, outside community and board commitments, it is important not to say to yourself at midnight, answering this e-mail will only take ten more minutes, reading this report will just take half an hour or I wonder if I vacuum the living room now if it will wake anyone. For those who travel all the time, don’t take work on an airplane. Read a book, watch the (bad) movie or look out the window. Ignore the fact that the technology is available to send e-mail from 31,000 feet. Rejoice in knowing that not one phone will ring while the plane doors are shut.” Mary Thompson Grassi, Social Services Coordinator, KeySpan

“Eliminate television for the most part – it eats up large amounts of time with little to gain. Find recreational activities you can do with family and friends- walking, cycling, dining out. Introduce your spouse and family to those with whom you work, invite them to work-related activities so they are comfortable around your co-workers. The lines between co-workers and friends; between work and fun become blurred. Do small house keeping tasks regularly, but when you fall behind, keep lights down low and use a lot of candles – everything looks better by candlelight!” Cathy McCollom, Director of Operations & Marketing, Pittsburgh History and Landmark Foundation

You can have it all’ is a phrase cheerfully embraced by those of us who experienced the changing role of women in the 70s and 80s. Many of us found we needed to add a qualifier if balance was among those things we wanted for ourselves and families……‘You can have it all….just not at the same time’.” Ellen Fairbanks, Registered Financial Planner, MD&A Financial Management Company

“My trick it is to make sure there is a “double wammy” for everything. The volunteer work I personally get involved in always entails a social and family aspect. I get my friends and family involved. This way when I am spending that extra time on a “good cause” I am also enjoying my wonderfully talented friends and family. Additionally my company Decision Coaches use volunteer efforts to mentor our employees. My partners and I are committed to supporting any employee with their volunteer efforts as long as the effort supports an organization’s strategic planning and can be accomplished outside of normal business hours. We have provided pro bono Strategic Planning services to Hadassah, three Churches, Pittsburgh Cares, Strategic Leadership Forum just to name a few. The employee plans the meetings, conducts the homework, manages the meeting logistics and co-facilitates the meetings. This is our On the Job Training and everyone wins in the process. Employee has gained facilitation experience, Organization ends up with a “top notch” plan, the company supports a “good cause.” Peggy McGarry, Master Coach & Idea Commercialization Practice Manager, Decision Coaches Inc.

“Laugh a lot, have fun, find joy, and be grateful. When caught in angst, journal, and then all of the previous.” Peg Stewart, Publisher & Editor, Green Tree Times

I think successful balancing involves selecting and scheduling. I make every effort to only work on projects that are challenging and interesting. I think these kind of projects are emotionally less stressful than tedious work. Also, I force myself to schedule family and fun time. If I don’t schedule fun things to do, I might forget to have fun!” Susan E. Gove, Ph.D., CEO, Gove Group, Inc.

5 Tips to Balancing Work and Life

  1. Analyze “now”. Take an inventory of your life over the past month. Determine the percentage of work, play, family, spiritual, etc. time.
  2. Set goals. Determine what percentages of time for personal and work times you would “wisely suggest for someone else”, and then set the same goals for yourself.
  3. Be reasonable. Realize that you may need to consider a percentage of fun time over a period of a month or so, as weekly may not be reasonable for a busy executive.
  4. Schedule free time. Fill your calendar with appropriate amounts of family and personal time. Don’t be willing to cancel these times any more than you would cancel an important client meeting.
  5. Analyze regularly. It’s too easy for work time to encroach into personal time, so reassess your use of time regularly.