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Keeping Priorities in Line

Does Your Smartphone Preempt Your Family?

Some good reminders from my friend Peter Greer’s blog. Greer is the founder, president, and CEO of Hope International, a microfinance organization that operates worldwide with the goal to honor Christ with their work. Greer and I were in an outreach group together back in our Messiah College days, and he is an amazingly talented man. Still, like the rest of us balance doesn’t come easily. A few years ago he got a wake-up call from his wife. After reevaluating his calendar and thinking through things, he changed up his schedule to better reflect his priorities. Here are his five points to keep his focus, as shared on his blog:

  1. Ask your spouse how they’re doing.  I would monitor key performance indicators on the health and welfare of our programs at HOPE, yet I rarely asked my wife how she was doing.  Periodically now I do “impact assessments” – ten simple questions that help me know how I can be supporting her better and if our relationship is heading in the right direction.
  2. Limit travel.  We all have many good opportunities and I felt like I had to say “yes” to all of them.   Recently I have limited my travel to fifteen nights per quarter.  By saying “no” to good opportunities, I get the chance to tuck my children into bed and to say “yes” to the best ones.
  3. Tuck the blackberry in a drawer.  One day I was helping my two-year-old son get breakfast while reading a work email on my blackberry. “No phone, no phone,” he said to me.  This was a gut check for me.  Now, I literally put my blackberry in the kitchen drawer until my kids go to bed so I know my focus is on my family. 
  4. Don’t add… multiply.  I used to think about work-life balance in terms of addition: If I was successful at work, I got one point.  If I was successful at home, I received another.   But if I scored a “one” at work, and a “zero” at home, at least I had one point.   But it’s not addition.  It’s multiplication.  If I score a “zero” at home, but a “one” at work, it’s still a “zero” overall.
  5. Remove (or delegate).  Before “the conversation” I had an inflated view of my importance. I felt I had to do it all, but this attitude spread me too thinly and I was too frazzled to do anything well.  Since speaking with my wife, I have decreased many responsibilities, such as the number of staff reporting to me, and delegated everything except the core responsibilities of my role.  It’s liberating: I’m now able to focus on the areas I excel and have more balance than ever before.

I think that these suggestions are also good for any of us who view their work as a calling. I’ve been able to do some of this, though I can only delegate so much. I do make sure that I delegate as much grading as I can to my TA, but the other four steps definitely pertain. I try to keep evening commitments in line (my version of 2.) and keep in touch with Joy about how she is feeling as well. Some days go better than others, but I’m keeping this in mind. Thanks, Peter, for the helpful reminder!

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