Respecting the Rhythm of Work and Family

Even when promoting a book, you need to respect the rhythm of work and family
Even when promoting a book, you need to respect the rhythm of work and family

One thing I have learned about balancing work and family is that you need to take the long view. Work can take precedent sometimes. Other weeks, family can come to the fore. And it’s ok if you are temporarily out of balance. We need to respect the rhythm of work and family.

In the business world, we call this the difference between Episodic Overwork and Chronic Overwork. It’s ok, and probably necessary for career advancement, to have some weeks in which you burn the midnight oil. Accountants during tax season. Lawyers in the home stretch of a big case. A big client deadline. Passing a certification exam. Promoting a book. Even in nature, high tides and occasional forest fires are good things.

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The Pros and Cons of Working the “Third Shift”

I often work a Third Shift on the laptop after Nick's asleep
I often work a Third Shift on the laptop after Nick’s asleep

More and more employees are working a metaphorical Third Shift. They put in their day at work, come home to spend time as an active parent, and then, after the kids go to sleep, they log in to work and put in a few more hours.

Third Shifting allows more time for family, but we need to be careful as it can perpetuate the notion that we must always be available to work.

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There Are 168 Hours in a Week: How Are You Using Yours?

A few weeks ago, Harvard Business Review Online published my latest article, “Relax, You Have 168 Hours This Week.” This is my eighth article for them (click here to see a list of them all), and one I am particularly proud of. In the piece, I use time management techniques to illustrate how we, as busy working parents can find enough time for career, family and life. Please click on the picture below or here to go to the full article, or see below for an excerpt.

Click here to read the full "168 Hours" article at HBR online
Click here to read the full “168 Hours” article at HBR online

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7 Things I Learned from Reading “Overwhelmed” by Brigid Schulte

Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time” by Brigid Schulte is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. It examines why so many of us feel so stressed and time-pressured and, more importantly, what we can do about it. Here are seven lessons I took from “Overwhelmed.”

"Overwhelmed" by Brigid Schulte expertly examines our hurried and conflicted lives and provides hard-won advice for us all
“Overwhelmed” by Brigid Schulte expertly examines our hurried and conflicted lives and provides hard-won advice for us all

Disclaimer: Schulte is a friend of mine, and we were both participants at recent White House Summit events. However, this article represents only my honest opinion; I received no compensation (never have, never will)- not even a free book!

With that, here are seven personal lessons that can help us feel less overwhelmed (The book also contains an analysis on how US culture, public policy, gender norms and corporate culture all contribute to “the Overwhelm,” but for now, let’s focus on things we can control):

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Expert Q&A with Dr. Greg Marcus, Author of “Busting Your Corporate Idol”

Here’s an interview with friend, life-balance coach and author Greg Marcus about his book, his journey to a more balanced life and his advice for working dads.

Author and life balance coach Greg Marcus.
Author and life balance coach Greg Marcus.

1. You’ve said that your mission is to help chronically overworked people find life balance. What makes you so passionate on this topic?

Chronic overwork is a terrible lifestyle. Overworked people eat poorly, feel exhausted and stressed, exercise less, have less time with the people they care about, have less and worse sex, are at a higher risk for depression, and die younger. That used to be me. I am absolutely convinced that if I had kept working 90 hours a week in corporate job, I would be dead or have survived a major health crisis. I’m happy to say that I found a way to cut my hours by over a third without changing jobs, and went on to have the most productive and lucrative years of my career working 40-50 hours a week.

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Have You Bought Into the Cult of Overwork?

Here’s a quick checklist from Greg Marcus’ book “Busting Your Corporate Idol” that can tell you if you are exhibiting signs of chronic overwork and have internalized corporate “work before all” priorities.

Have we turned our employer into a "Corporate Idol"?
Have we turned our employer into a “Corporate Idol”?

Greg Marcus recently wrote a great book “Busting Your Corporate Idol: How to Reconnect with Values and Regain Control of Your Life.” He describes corporate idolatry as the state in which one looks to their career/job/employer as a “false god” above other more important priorities such as family, health and religion.

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Chronic Overwork: The Dangers of Treating Your Career Marathon Like a Sprint

Chronic overwork can lead to work-family imbalance, reduced effectiveness and burnout. Occasional overwork is a necessity; chronic overwork is detrimental. Here’s why we need to pace ourselves. On October 11th, my second article for the Harvard Business Review blog was published. It was the most read and commented upon article on the HBR website for a whole week, and has … Read more

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