10 Tips for Keeping It Together

Life gets crazy sometimes.

For most of my professional life I’ve worked for software companies in diverse roles, including developer, consultant, product strategist, software designer and marketing manager.

I’ve lived and worked in Munich on and off for the last 10 years which means a 9 hour time difference with most of my colleagues. And I have three kids between the ages of 7 years and 3 months.

Crazy is an understatement.

I’m not one of those women who run a company while creating organic meals from scratch for my three perfect children. I’m just someone who wants to work and raise my kids with minimum outsourcing.

There’s no magic formula for balancing work and family because everyone has different priorities but here’s a list of 10 things that works for me:

Stick to What You Know. I sometimes fantasize about doing something completely different like competitive kick boxing or breeding really ugly dogs but the expertise I’ve built up over the years helps me work quickly and efficiently.

Telecommute. Whenever I work at home I can spend my commuting time working.  Unless you spend it on the phone talking to colleagues or customers – which makes you a road hazard – commuting is wasted time.

Keep Meetings to a Minimum. Meetings have a cost and deciding which meetings to attend is a professional skill in its own right.  Attend too many and you won’t get any work done, attend too few and you’re invisible.

Say No. It’s never easy to pass up on an opportunity or push back when someone asks you to do something but if you can’t politely decline, and know when it’s OK to do so, you can forget about work life balance.

Don’t Follow the Money. I used to earn more as a consultant but now I don’t have to get up at 5 a.m. Monday morning to catch an early flight to a customer site. I consider it a fair trade.

Enjoy What You Do. If  you’re like me, you end up working at night after your kids are in bed or on weekends when they’re outside playing, so enjoying what you do is pretty important.

Be Good to Yourself. Make time to exercise, eat lots of leafy greens and plenty of cake. Get a pedicure or a latte.  Pat yourself on the back for the things you do well and don’t obsess about the rest.

Think Laterally, Not Vertically. It may be possible to work 30 hours a week from the location of your choice, earn an executive salary and run a big chunk of the company but I haven’t figured out how.

Share the Load. If you’re married with children and both of you are working full-time, you should be doing half the housework and childcare.  Men actually can fold laundry so don’t believe that helpless act.  Of course, to be fair you’ll have to kill half the spiders.

Look at the Funny Side. Without even knowing you, I bet your life is hilarious. Find the humor in those frantic drives to the vet with the barfing dog and screaming toddler while talking your boss on the phone.  It’s there, I promise.

Sounds easy when you make a nice little list, doesn’t it?  We all have bad days. I’m sometimes late for meetings, impatient with my kids, too busy to buy groceries or too busy to chew my food properly.

Most days I can’t believe my luck because I have a good job, colleagues I enjoy working with and a family that loves me. Everything else is just white noise. Ultimately, the secret to having it all is believing you have it all.

Photo credit: Photobucket.com

About the Author

Laura Schroeder

Laura Schroeder is a talent and compensation specialist at Workday, a leading supplier of global Human Capital Management solutions. She holds a certificate in Strategic Human Resources Practices from Cornell University, writes a Talent Management blog under the name Working Girl and is a contributing author at CompensationCafe.com. You can follow Laura on twitter @WorkGal.

1 Comment


Excellent post Laura! Thank you for sharing your list… all good ideas. I love your last line and think I need to post that on my bathroom mirror for those especially crazy days.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.