Improving Work/Life Balance

In a recent Harvard Business School article by Boris Groysberg and Robin Abrahams, “Manage Your Work, Manage Your Life: Zero in on What Really Matters” (summarized in the Marshall Memo # 524), the gist — while focused on corporate executives, the lessons apply to all of us – ties directly into one of the Academy’s Strategic Plan goals under “Community Building:” improving the work/life balance for everyone in our community. Which of us as students, parents, teachers, or staff hasn’t struggled with the competing demands of home and work? Here is a summary of the Marshall Memo summary, highlighting the recommendations to consider:

  • Define success: both at work and at home, know what you want to achieve, or you will “fail” by having nothing against which to measure your actual accomplishments.
  • Manage technology: have a plan to handle emails, being available without constantly multi-tasking, and also without micro-managing…let others do their jobs without you, without endless questions, so that you can focus on home at home, and work at work.
  • Build support networks: this includes finding others to help with daily tasks, as well as building rapport with those to whom you can vent safely when under pressure.
  • Travel/Relocate selectively: with a growing family, traveling and/or relocating become much more complicated (and studies show this is even more a factor for women, despite our society’s attempts at gender equity).
  • Collaborate with your spouse/partner: a well planned partnership at home makes the demands at work less daunting. Making tough choices together avoids later surprises!

Groysberg and Abrahams end with three final reminders: expected the unexpected; there is no “one size fits all” solution; and don’t try to succeed alone. I might add to these common sense recommendations, “Less is more!” Rather than doing part of a long list of goals reasonably well, it is often better to select a few goals of the highest priority to do very well (some at home, some at work)…and it’s only taken me over 30 years of attempting to balance work and family to figure that one out (which does not mean that I actually live that way)!

Warm regards,
James S. Berkman
Head of School