The Best Way to Think About Work-Family Balance (Balanced Diet, Not a See-Saw)

The Benefits of Thinking About “Work-Family Balance” as a “Balanced Diet” instead of a “Balance Beam.”

Balance, as in a balanced diet... (photo: flickr, labeled for noncommercial reuse)
Balance, as in a balanced diet… (all photos: flickr, labeled for noncommercial reuse)

A balanced diet means that we eat enough of different types of food without eating too much of certain categories. Similarly, a full life means that we must tend to various parts of our lives (family, work, health, relationships, friends, hobbies, exercise, etc.), all of which are important parts of a whole.

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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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Google, Segmenters, Integrators and Work-Family Balance

Google found that some employees are able to separate work and non-work, while others take a more integrated approach. How this insight has practical applications for employers and employees and highlights the need for more customized work-family solutions.

I'm impressed by Google's scientific approach to work-family management
I’m impressed by Google’s scientific approach to work-family management

I recently came across an excellent HBR.org article by Lazlo Bock about gDNA–Google’s scientific approach to studying their workplace and employees. By collecting and analyzing large amounts of data, they hope to implement workplace changes that accelerate productivity and enhance employee well-being.

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A Dad’s Dilemma: Prioritizing Time Versus Money

While it is important to provide for our families, be careful not to trade off too much time for money. Our kids may want things, but they NEED time with their fathers more. As part of National Work and Family Month, here’s a post for my fellow fathers who feel torn between spending time at work and spending time with our families.

Sure, kids like money. But they NEED you. (photo credit: Good N Crazy, creative commons license)

On October 3rd, my first article at the Huffington Post was published. I was invited to participate in National Work Family Month and contribute content to their month-long effort to raising awareness and support for work-family balance. Here’s the beginning of the piece, plus a link to the full article over at HuffPo.

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My Life of Dad Podcast: Fatherhood, Work-Family, Star Wars, Football, and More

Last week, I had the pleasure of being featured on the really fun podcast series, “The Life of Dad After Show,” hosted by Art Eddy and Ryan E. Hamilton. We had a great half-hour conversation in which we discussed work-life balance, fatherhood, Star wars, halloween, baseball, football, and how I cope when my actress wife has … Read more

The New Chevrolet Malibu Ad Depicts Fathers’ Work-Family Priorities

Chevy Malibu* launched a new ad campaign that extols the virtues of valuing family over materialism. This rare and honest depiction of everyday dads is a refreshing change from the glitz we often see.

A screencap of Chevrolet Malibu's positive depiction of fathers and work-life balance
A screencap of Chevrolet Malibu’s positive depiction of fathers and work-life balance

When I watch TV, I almost always tune out the commercials. But while watching the World Series the other night, there was an ad that grabbed and kept my attention. (In fact, my wife, whose only flaw is that she dislikes baseball, was in the room at the time and told me “this ad would make for a good blog post for you”)

Car ads typically try to entice the buyer by showing how THIS car will make others see you as richer, cooler, more sophisticated, more powerful. This ad for the 2014 Chevy Malibu stands out- It extols the virtues of valuing relationships with children, significant others, and family over career ambition and status-seeking. It’s worth watching:

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A Blueprint For Discussing Work and Family Priorities

Here’s a helpful tool that can help us discuss our work and family priorities and develop strategies to reach our goals.

This blueprint can not only help you build a house, but also help you build a better work-family balance! (Harp Family Institute)
This blueprint can help you build a better work-family balance! (Harp Family Institute)

A while ago, I gave a presentation at the Academy of Management conference as part of a panel symposium on new areas of work-family research and practice. One of my co-presenters was Trisha Harp, who skyped into the symposium as it took place just a few days before the due date of her baby (Baby has arrived, and mom, baby and family are all doing fine!).

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Work and Family, A Conflict of Generations?

Can the causes of work-family conflict be traced to generational differences in priorities? Here’s the evidence- plus what we Gen Xers can do to improve the situation.

Three generations. We all probably see the value of work-family balance a little differently
Three generations. We all probably see the value of work-family balance a little differently

Talkin’ About Our Generations

I think studies based on generational differences are over-rated. After all, how valid could it possibly be to lump together people 48 years old to 33 years old in order to compare them with people 49 to 67 years old? I mean, wouldn’t the 48 and 49 year olds have more in common with each other than the rest of their purported “groups”?

With that caveat, I recently came along “Mixing and Managing Four Generations of Employees,” by Greg Hammill, in which he summarized some of the findings about different work-related attitudes and values among generations. This chart caught my eye:

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The First Year of Fathers, Work and Family

One year ago, I started this blog, not knowing what the public reaction would be. I feared a great big collective yawn.

Nick's right. Moments like this are more important than work
Nick and I thank you for helping make this blog successful.

I am eternally grateful that you gave me a chance and that you found the blog valuable enough to keep coming back. This venture has led to new friendships and professional contacts, but, more importantly, I believe we have started a community for those who support work-family balance for fathers and created a safe place where we can share and discuss ideas, advice and our stories.

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The “Opt-Out Generation,” Mothers, Fathers, Work and Family

Welcome HBR Readers! Please take a look around (see the “best of” category link on the right-hand side of the page) and feel free to like/follow the blog and spread the word.

Most of us don’t want to opt-out of a rewarding, successful career. Most of us don’t want to opt-out of being a present, involved parent. Hopefully our generation can find a more balanced, integrated path.

A screencap of the recent NYTimes Magazine cover story
A screencap of the recent NYTimes Magazine cover story

The NYTimes Sunday Magazine’s fascinating cover story, “The Opt-Out Generation Wants Back In” by Judith Warner, paints a complex picture of the dynamics of work and family. While it focuses on high-earning women who gave up their careers to be stay-at-home moms, it has very interesting things to say about how men’s and women’s progress towards work-family balance are inextricably tied.

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Downshifting: 5 Ways to Slow Down Your Career for Family

“Downshifters” are those who eschew the career ladder and choose alternative paths that open up more time for family or other pursuits. For many, the trade-off is more than worth it. This article discusses 5 common types of downshifting.

“The problem with winning the rat race is… you’re still a rat” –Lily Tomlin

For me, plateauing my career opens up more time for family.

When we think about career paths, we often think about climbing the ladder- stepping up our career one rung at a time to positions of greater status, demands, responsibilities and financial rewards. Career advancement is great, but it often comes at a cost- to mental and physical health and especially to time spent with family.

Perhaps there’s another way. A way that opens up time for a more well-rounded life.

Life in the (slightly slower) Lane

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Finding Work-Life Balance Through Charitable Giving

How one man found purpose and better work-life balance when he discovered the importance of charitable giving. Here’s how we can make charity part of our work and our lives.

Sharing Experiences is a series of articles written by dads about their work-life experiences. These are shared in the hopes of generating conversation, sparking ideas, and letting dads know they are not alone in their work-family struggles. For more of these stories, click on the category link on the right-hand side of your screen.

A guest post by Noble McIntyre

Our guest blogger, Noble McIntyre, with his colleagues during his company's charity drive
Our guest blogger, Noble McIntyre, with his colleagues during his company’s charity food drive

Why Charitable Giving is Important

As we mature and develop our careers, the one resource we never seem to have enough of is time. As a personal injury attorney with a wife and three daughters, my days are frequently packed. Between commuting, handling clients, and attending my daughters’ various extracurricular activities, I have just enough time for my work and often just enough for my family — with very little left over.

A few years ago, I began to feel something was missing. My line of work frequently puts me in a position to help people who are injured and suffering, but taking law cases is not the same as giving selflessly to others. But with my work and family life already occupying so much of my time, how could I make more room for charitable giving? Organizing (or even attending) charity events would take time I simply didn’t have.

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