At GFM we often say that we practice and encourage a work/life blend, rather than balance. In today’s plugged in and always on world of business, parenting and relationships, trying to achieve balance will almost always result in disappointment. Sometimes work trumps a personal commitment while other times personal plans or to-dos outweigh non-urgent deadlines. That is reality.
Personally, I take a lot of pride in the blend that I’ve created and prioritize each week. Most days I am up before the sun, my family and most coworkers and clients, for a workout. This creates space for completely unplugged me time without sacrificing work or family. From there I am able to be a part of my toddler’s morning routine before his day at daycare. I then aim to be in the office by 8:30 a.m. at the latest in order to dive into the day, choosing to eat lunch at my desk, unless I have a professional engagement, so that I do not have too much guilt about having to leave the office by 5:15 p.m. for daycare pickup.
None of this would be possible without a strong network at home, and an even stronger base of support – starting with leadership – about the “blend” being critical to our overall success as an agency.
GFM has a generous four-week sabbatical policy after 10 years of employment and our president Ramonna Robinson recently returned from an enriching, disconnected leave with stops for a yoga retreat in Croatia and relaxation in Italy. Following her return she wrote a fantastic blog post about her “a ha” moments. But even more valuable have been the work/life blend professional development articles she has made the time to share internally. Each of these articles validate and in a way, provides permission for us to hold each other accountable in critical ways—work product, responsibility, health and wellness and much more.
This week Ramonna re-circulated a powerful 2010 Business Insider piece from The Energy Coach about the importance of disconnecting in order to be more valuable at work and at home when you do reconnect. The week before she praised the GFM team members who schedule walking meetings or shout out around the office throughout the day for quick walking breaks around the block—based on a New York Times article about the dangers of long, uninterrupted periods of physical lethargy.
Summer is a great time to take a step back as an organization, family and individual to evaluate your blend. Are you unplugging on vacation or like Carol in The Energy Project story, addicted to checking in on emails because of its emotional pull about being important and needed? Unfortunately, I am guilty as charged in this respect.
Are you enjoying the extra hours of sunlight with a dog walk or backyard gardening? Or are you trained to get back online as soon as the dinner dishes are done?
Are you giving your team permission to disconnect by modeling the behavior yourself, or creating a cycle of 24/7 communication that no one is brave enough to break?
How is your blend?