Work-Life Balance

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Feb8PanelFountainBlue’s February 8 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of How to Throw More Balls Up Higher: Juggling Work-Life Balance in Demanding Times. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have a wide range of perspectives on our panel, and that our panelists shared their insights, suggestions and advice with poignant humor and candor. They speak from their deep experience immersed in high tech, challenged by juggling home and work needs, and making tough choices, leading tough conversations which would help them and others around them integrate work and life better. There are vast differences in education, experience and perspectives, yet they had many things in common.

  • They know what it looks like and feels like to be on the wrong side of the work-life balance equation, and are committed to making tough choices to seek a better balance.
  • They understand the business value of integrating work and life, how a better balance leads to a happier, more productive culture, team and organization.
  • They have sponsors, mentors, friends and others in their network who help them maintain their perspectives, and stay true to their values, passions and goals.
  • They make a stand for their family, particularly their children, and make sure that they have the care and support they need.
  • Although they each admit how tough it is, they are each making a conscious choice to make time for themselves: to be self-aware, to stand for their values, to focus on what’s important.

Below are some thoughts on how to integrate life and work successfully:

Know and Manage Yourself

  • Build your self-awareness and inner strength, so that you can manage the inevitable stress of working in high tech environments.
  • Turn down the self critic and don’t aspire to be perfect, for good enough is good enough.
  • Be attuned to the physical manifestations of stress and proactive about managing it.
  • Don’t think that everyone’s judging you for not being as perfect as you can be, for everyone’s too busy thinking about themselves to judge whether what you’re doing is good enough.
  • Choose happiness. Don’t let the small people and things get to you. Put yourself first.
  • Take the journey from work to home, and home to work as a transition point, and be fully where you are when you’re there, at home and at work.
  • Start your day in a positive mind set. End your day focusing on learnings, what worked, what to build on.
  • Speak to yourself throughout the day in a positive voice.

Accept What You Can’t Change

  • There *is* no perfect role which facilitates work-life balance in high tech. You are in charge of creating the boundaries and integrating that balance as best you can.
  • You can’t change people or what happens in life, but you can take responsibility for your thinking and doing.

Create Boundaries

  • Get the job done, and done well, but you don’t have to be there 24×7 to make that happen. Choose to work from home. Delegate where appropriate. Set boundaries on assignments and timing of calls.
  • Don’t over-explain and justify *how* something will be done. Just make sure that things get done.
  • Make sure that every meeting makes sense, that most tasks have owners (so that you don’t have to check in with everyone), and that coordination between busy people is easy, and communication is clear and concise and inclusive.

Get Support

  • Ask for help where you need it, particularly if it’s on doing non-essential tasks, or things that you don’t love to do.
  • Keep yourself and others around you alive and vibrant and passionate. Do something you care about, working with a team and company you care about.
  • Recruit cheerleaders and listen to them.
  • You are good at taking care of everyone, but who is taking care of you.
  • Surround yourself with tokens or reminders to help keep you grounded on work-life integration.

Give Support to Others

  • Support your friends in seeking their work-life balance.
  • Do regularly check-ins with your spouse about what’s working, what’s not working and how to change it so that things work better.
  • Don’t assume that the answer is no by playing an anticipated conversation in your head.

Resources:

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We would like to thank and acknowledge our panelists for FountainBlue’s February 8 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of How to Throw More Balls Up Higher: Juggling Work-Life Balance in Demanding Times:

Facilitator Kristi Royse, KLR Consulting

Panelist Anne Griswold, Principal and Organizational Specialist, Altera

Panelist Komal Lahiri, Director, Payments & Credit Products Risk, PayPal

Panelist Punam Nagpal, Engineer, Quality Metrics, Cisco

Panelist Phyllis Stewart Pires, Director of WorkLife Strategy, University Human Resources, Stanford University

Please join us also in thanking our gracious hosts at Altera.

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