Balancing work and family

By Barbara Brahm

January 28, 2014

Do the pieces of your life fit together into one pretty picture? Are you balancing your roles, including parent, spouse, employee, volunteer, coach, and so on?

Life is like one big jigsaw puzzle. Each role we have is a piece of the puzzle. When put together, we end up with our daily life.

The problem is that sometimes it’s difficult to get all the roles to fit together. Some roles are bigger than others and demand more of our time.

Sometimes we need to readjust or reshape pieces. Sometimes there are too many pieces.

Balancing work and family is a matter of choosing the right goals for you from all the alternatives, and working toward that goal. When too many things compete for our time, energy, talents and skills, it’s time to set goals so you know WHERE you are going, HOW you’ll get there, and WHEN you have arrived. Because of the unique integration of work and family on a farm, this can be especially challenging.

Setting goals is the first step in balancing work and family. They can make us happier, help us make more money, and make us feel more successful. They also give us a sense of direction and purpose.

Be sure your goals are: challenging but attainable; flexible; compatible; positive; specific and measurable; targeted toward a date; and written down. Goals can be categorized as: 10) lifetime or long term, 2) intermediate, 3) short term, or 4) daily.

Make every minute count in getting all your work done. Here are some tips to manage your time:

List goals and set your priorities. Make daily “to do” lists; rank in order of importance. Learn to say “NO” when something doesn’t fit your goals.

Determine your time wasters. The biggest wasters are perfectionism and procrastination.

Get yourself organized. Plan. Use personal and family calendars.

Start with A’s (most important items), not C’s (lesser important items). Get rid of clutter – de-junk your life.

Handle paper only once. Set deadlines. Use bits of time.

Use the Swiss cheese method. Break big jobs down into smaller, more manageable tasks. Work smarter, not harder.

Use your prime time – your most productive time of day to advantage. Evaluate your materials and equipment to make sure they are efficient.

Learn to delegate or find a better way to do tasks.

Rest and relax and deal with stress. Self- discipline yourself. Act enthusiastically. Be positive. Don’t give up!!

If your walls could talk, what would they say about you and your family and how you spend your time?

Time is a limited resource and we each have the same amount: 24 hours = 1440 minutes = 86,400 seconds. Do a time analysis – where does your time go?

Super Moms – you can’t do it all! Pick your priorities. If a homemaker’s standards are too high – men and children won’t want to help. The reason no one wants to do work at home is that the results are short-lived.

Practice these 5 keys to household management: Minimize, Delegate, Routinize, Eliminate, and have a Sense of Humor.

Family council meetings can be used for planning family work. Use tools to help you get organized. These can include calendars, job jars, and job charts. Develop some basic family rules for laundry, meals, and cleaning. Keep family communication strong.

Deal with your days. Remember it takes 3 weeks to make or break a habit. Get organized. Do a check up on your attitude. Try one idea at a time.

It comes down to just two questions. Priorities - what are yours? Discipline - Will you follow your goals and priorities?

Will you settle for a good balance in your life – Or will you go for the better or best life?

Above all, keep life in perspective. Will your family or friends remember that you didn’t get the dishes done, the garage swept or the bath tub ring cleaned on a February day in 2014? Or will they remember the beautiful snowfall and how you made time to build a snowman or make snow angels, or went to their concert or sports event?

Life is so short. Please, please – CHERISH every moment with your family!!!

Barbara Brahm is the Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences for the Ohio State University Extension, Union and Delaware Counties