The results of the "Making it Work Survey" show that parents who rated themselves as “5 – very satisfied” with their work-life balance* are skilled at the strategy: making time for what matters most. It seems these very satisfied folks make careful choices and are very attentive to living their values. Their methods for doing this fall into a few categories:
1. Prioritize. The most common method for the making time for what matters most strategy turns out to be knowing what your values are and choosing to live them. Several of you commented that being able to see your life in chapters – e.g. putting your career as number two, for now- knowing that there will be more time for that later – helps you to feel satisfied.
2. Manage time and resources. I almost named this category “get help” but I realized that it is more than that. We all make choices about how to manage our lives, careers and households. And, as any good project manager will know, managing tasks on time, on budget, and to a high quality standard is the key to success. Our “5's" seem to be excellent project managers who know how to allocate time and resources to achieve the most high quality result: total satisfaction. As one “5” put it,
“[I Implement] specific time management strategies to ensure that work does not over run my life. Focusing constantly on priorities, what matters most and what makes me and my family happy. Setting goals and putting strategies in place to achieve them.”
Here’s another amazing time manager:
“…when I was going to school and the kids were in school, I made a menu every Sunday, went to the grocery store and cooked what I planned each night. I often did batch cooking on Sunday. I also worked my classes so I would be home to meet the bus as much as possible. My youngest was a classical ballet dancer so I hired someone to drive him 4 days a week. I would always have a bag of books in the car, so if I was waiting somewhere, I would read. I learned to be able to pick up and put down things quickly.
Other ways that time and resources were allocated were:
A few respondents noted that they were good at “paying attention” to their children’s cues. That they were able to stop what they were doing and redirect their attention as needed to their children. Confidence in being able to be present in this way seems to relieve feelings of guilt in our “5’s”. One mom said,
“I try to watch my kids' behavior with regard to our schedules. Our youngest, for example, begins to get really bossy and needy when we haven't spent enough time with her. My oldest gets clingy.”
4. Be creative. I just loved your methods for fitting things in and getting things done in really creative ways. Here are a few of my favorites:
5. Communicate. “5’s” communicate a lot. With their spouses about division of duties and for priority setting. With employers about boundaries. With hired help about what is needed. With children about expectations and feelings. Every strategy mentioned above was typically accompanied by a corollary: these things don’t just happen without engaging people in a conversation about values, commitments, plans and boundaries.
The next two blogs will cover the next two most cited strategies that our “5’s” sited: Creating Real Partnerships and Keeping Perspective.
*Note: this is referring to the “Making It Work” survey that is the source data for many of my blog entries. I invite you to take the survey, or just take a look at the questions, if you haven’t already done so!
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