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Creating Successful Leaders

t1larg.working.mom

These past few weeks I’ve been attending quite a lot of weddings. It seems couples have wisely planned their wedding days around the time Minnesota has (finally!) given us some much-needed warm weather.

I love weddings, and it’s been a privilege to participate in the Big Days of young folks I’ve known from all corners of my life. But these past couple of weeks have made me think two, very related thoughts:

1. I’m busy as it is with my work–toss a few weddings in the mix and things can get hectic real quick.

2. Weddings are the platform from which two people jump off into a new life together. A big part of this is learning to balance and sustain their personal lives and their careers.

I’ve found that there tend to be periods of relative calm in my life, where my biggest concern is keeping myself from being bored. And then, all at once, life throws ten things at me and I’m scrambling to stay afloat.

If you’re a parent, you know that life doesn’t relent just because you’re tired or overworked. Kids still need feeding, dishes need doing, and that stack of work on your desk isn’t going to magically disappear. So it’s important to your sanity and quality of life that you develop a work flow that keeps things manageable.

Here’s how:

1. Take advantage of downtime. It’s easy to sit back and idle the engine, to use a car metaphor, when work and home life relents and you find yourself with an open schedule. But you can’t take a car from first gear to fifth. The engine just can’t handle that big of a transition. In the same way, if you relax too much during the lulls, it makes it that much more difficult to be ready to perform your best when things begin to pile up. So, use downtime to prepare for the next onslaught. It’ll keep you productive when there’s not much going on, and it’ll make things much easier for you when things get busy.

2. Focus on one task at a time. Here’s a post I wrote about the myth of multitasking. It may feel like you’re able to get more done faster, but in reality you aren’t.

3. Prioritize. Your family should be number one on your priority list, and if they aren’t, perhaps you should reevaluate what is most important in your life.

4. Learn to say no. You can’t do everything that people ask of you. There’ll be some projects at work you’ll have to pass up in order to spend time with your family. Similarly, there’ll be family activities that won’t mesh with your work schedule. After prioritizing, you’ll know what to turn down and what to take on.

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