Sheryl Sandberg famously says that there’s no such thing as work-life balance: “There’s work, and there’s life, and there’s no balance.” In context, her statement is meant to inspire dedication to career and family. In practice, well, it can sound pretty terrifying.
(Photo Credit: Fabio Bruno/Flickr)
Over at The Jane Dough, Sarah Kaufman of Manilla.com recently contributed a useful list of steps for working parents to take in order to achieve some modicum of balance, while still trying to get ahead at the office.
Her advice is eminently practical, with a focus on choosing companies that are more likely to allow you to have a life, and then communicating with people at work and at home to avoid scheduling snafus (and the inevitable guilt and stress). A-plus, as well, for hiring help, if you can afford it. Many of us are better at delegating at work than we are home, and offloading anything you can is obviously a great idea.
But what about for the rest of us? If you can’t afford a maid or a full-time nanny, and you’re stuck working for people whose priorities are less evolved than the ideal, you still have options:
1. Reach out.
Networking isn’t just for business. Whether you’re forming a babysitting co-op with other working parents or creating your own Lean In Circle, finding support outside of work is critical to achieving balance. Those connections might also come in handy down the line, helping you find a position at a company that doesn’t require you to work a 70-hour week.
2. Let a few things go — for now.
Sometimes, you have to redefine success on a temporary basis. The houses of people with young children, for example, are rarely as tidy as they were before babies started showing up and demanding food and care. (Also, selfishly, babies refuse to put in a load of laundry or make dinner while you finish that report.)
The same goes for work. You don’t have to give up on getting promoted, but if it doesn’t happen while you’re taking care of a newborn, it’s not necessarily a forever problem. Try not to compare your life to Marissa Mayer’s. You probably don’t have a nursery in your office.
3. Make use of productivity apps.
You can’t afford a personal assistant, but you can probably find a few bucks for an app that does some of that organizing work for you. Whether it’s a straight productivity app like Evernote or Dropbox, or an alarm clock app to get you up on time, or a healthy app that finds quick, healthy recipes or easy workout routines, there’s something for just about everything you need. Some are even free.
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