Discussion Thread

Balancing Work, Health, and Family

  • 1.  Balancing Work, Health, and Family

    Posted 05-24-2019 11:19 AM
    This past week has been a transformative one! For over a year I completely stopped working out because I was "too busy for it". As a person that played sports since the age of 8 all the way through college for 2 to 4 hours a day, this was a drastic life change. We as engineers use our minds daily but often neglect other aspects of our life.

    For me, it has been a challenge but I have been reading a great book about it called The Miracle Morning which has helped me break that barrier. The concept is simple and it fits right into my busy schedule. All I do is create 1 hour a day where I can develop a balance in my life. Every day I wake up at 5 am and start my routine before work. If you are struggling with balancing your personal well-being I recommend you read that book, it has changed the way I feel and perform daily!

    How do you balance your work with other aspects of your life like family, health, and spiritual well-being?

    ------------------------------
    Luis Duque EIT,A.M.ASCE
    Structural Engineer
    Broomfield CO
    luis@...
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: Balancing Work, Health, and Family

    Posted 05-28-2019 10:00 AM

    Luis,

     

    Glad to hear your having an amazing week. Keep up the good work.

     

    Your Question: How do you balance your work with other aspects of your life like family, health, and spiritual well-being?

     

    My Answers:

     

    1. Routine – Time is our most precious and limited resource. Carve out a daily routine to strive to meet your familial, health, and spiritual needs and be strict about it only within yourself (i.e., don't be too strict with others).
    2. Breathe – It's so easy to become overwhelmed and develop apathy so we need to learn to exercise breathing techniques that work for us. For example, I take walks around the block for fresh air. I also tend to sigh a lot. Some people tend to read into my sighing in that I'm stressed not knowing that the very fact that I'm doing so is to relieve stress.
    3. Stretch – Whether you're getting into physical activity or not, full-body stretches are essential to releasing stress-inducing chemicals found in your joints and muscles. Relieving this tension can lead to a clearer mind and better concentration.
    4. Today – We all have a past and we're all planning for a future but never lose sight of the fact that all we have is today. Yesterday's gone, tomorrow's not promised, all we have is today. Taking it one day at a time will help us seize the present for those things that take priority and help us let go of the things that don't really matter.

     

    Good luck to you and keep it up!

     

     

    Dave Ureña, P.E.

    Banneker, LLC

    3104 N. Armenia Ave

    Suite 2

    Tampa, FL 33607

    813.415.7872

    dave@...

     






  • 3.  RE: Balancing Work, Health, and Family

    Posted 05-30-2019 02:19 PM
    Louis,

    Thank you for the book recommendation.
    Did you have to give up something (sleep!) to free up this morning time, or did you find that setting a time aside made you more efficient during the rest of the day?

    The two bizarre properties of time for me are:
    - There is never enough time: even if I get a gift of several hours per day, by extending day care for example, I still struggle with (and stress about) finding enough time to finish work and home responsibilities.
    - There is always extra time: even if I get a task requiring extra hours per day, I always manage to somehow squeeze it into the schedule.

    Which shows that there is always room for more efficiency in the way I manage time.

    ------------------------------
    Natalya Sokolovskaya P.E.,M.ASCE
    Wynnewood PA
    (323)382-6176
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Balancing Work, Health, and Family

    Posted 05-30-2019 08:28 PM
    Louis,

    You are not alone. I think everyone finds this balancing act challenging at times. In my experience, despite the innumerable amount of resources that describe methods to be more productive, schedules of successful people, and other topics, it all starts with taking time to think about your own priorities. 

    From reading several books (e.g., 7 habits, The Effective Executive, Tools for Titans, Deep Work, and many others), I found two ideas most important to me in order to find balance.
    1. First is being "present", which David Urena talked about. When I am at work I am fully committed to work, not letting other thoughts and activities derail being present. Conversely, when I am home, I am fully present at home with family or with leisure activities. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule (e.g., doctor's appointment during work hours), but having this mindset has really helped me with engagement and productivity.
    2. Second is being in peace with letting go. Many times we want to do everything that comes to us. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to do them well without feeling overwhelmed. Therefore, you must let go of some items in your to-do list and you need to be in peace with letting go of them. For example, during college, I would practice up to three different sports regularly. However, I had to let go of one with the understanding that the other two fit my schedule better. I was in peace with this decision and don't regret it as I consciously made this decision. In other words, you must carefully select your priorities and stick to your decision. 


    ------------------------------
    Carlos Zuluaga Ph.D.,EI,A.M.ASCE
    Ph.D. Student, Civil Engineering
    Cary NC
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: Balancing Work, Health, and Family

    Posted 05-31-2019 09:56 AM
    Carlos, you are 100% right! I have been working on my breathing and being present rather than thinking about what I need to do next. It has really helped me be more focus during the day as well as more calm.

    ------------------------------
    Luis Duque EIT,A.M.ASCE
    Structural Engineer
    Broomfield CO
    luis@...
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Balancing Work, Health, and Family

    Posted 05-31-2019 08:40 AM

    Natalya, I love your comment about the properties of time!  It's too funny and so true.  There's never enough time, but you can always make time for the things that matter.  I'm right there with you in terms of struggling to balance time between work and family.  I find that drawing boundaries really help.  I'm committed to work from 8-5pm.  I'm committed to my baby from 6-8pm, and 6-7am.  If there's extra work to be done, I can do it between 9pm-5am... hence, I'm up right now wrapping up some work.  But this is rare.  On weekends, it's mostly family time.  For someone who used to work from 8am-8pm and weekends(!!), I am definitely making a conscious decision to scale back on my career and workaholism.  It still is very challenging for me to say no at work and see the negative career impacts of "scaling back", but I know it's worth it because motherhood is the most important job I will ever have.  They say it's easier to raise strong children than to fix broken adults.

     

    Luis, I totally understand where you're coming from too.  I was previously addicted to triathlons and surfing for years!  It still brings me so much joy to relive the good times...  I think what you'll find is that you'll always feel off kilter until you regain some of that activity, even if it's workout a week and only 20 minutes day of some physical activity.  Yes, I know what you're thinking... for someone who probably spent hours a day on sports, that's only a warm up, but it will release the tension in your muscles and allow you to clear your mind a bit.  I find that things in life comes in phases, so you will have a phase where you're completely immersed in work and your career will be nothing short of stellar, and then you'll get back to your wellbeing in a few years when certain projects slow down or family life forces you to change your pace.  It's okay to slow down your physical activity a bit as long as you don't completely let go.  These days, I do stretches often and then try not to break my back carrying my toddler up and down our stairs.  =)  When she's old enough to stay up a bit later, I'll get back to running in the evenings and hiking with her on weekends.  I need to plan these things so I know there's a light at the end of the tunnel.  Best of luck in everything!

     

    Jane Horvath, P.E., M.ASCE 





  • 7.  RE: Balancing Work, Health, and Family

    Posted 05-31-2019 09:56 AM
    Jane! Thanks for the insight! It really has been a struggle for me for over a year now. I started waking up earlier to have some "me" time, including some light exercising to get the blood flowing at it has been great! I have come to accept that I am not going to be able to do exercise for hours at a time but anything done consistently will bring me some great results.

    ------------------------------
    Luis Duque EIT,A.M.ASCE
    Structural Engineer
    Broomfield CO
    luis@...
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: Balancing Work, Health, and Family

    Posted 05-31-2019 10:53 AM
    Jane, hang in there! I really applaud your ability to manage a busy workload and a toddler, and squeezing some exercise in! In my experience things got so noticeably easier when the kids reached ~ 4 y.o. I've never played sports the way you and Luis did, but am finding that setting some time aside even for a short walk or yoga session does a huge deal for my well being and productivity. So did having a regular night sleep schedule without having to wake up for a young child.

    ------------------------------
    Natalya Sokolovskaya P.E.,M.ASCE
    Wynnewood PA
    (323)382-6176
    ------------------------------



  • 9.  RE: Balancing Work, Health, and Family

    Posted 05-31-2019 09:56 AM
    I did have to "give up" a little sleep as to wake up earlier. But once I realized the benefits I was getting, It became easier and easier to the point that is almost natural at this point.

    ------------------------------
    Luis Duque EIT,A.M.ASCE
    Structural Engineer
    Broomfield CO
    luis@...
    ------------------------------



  • 10.  RE: Balancing Work, Health, and Family

    Posted 05-31-2019 01:50 PM
    I'm going to second Luis recommendation of the Miracle morning (there's even a part on how you can do it in 6 minutes a day!).

    The importance of working somewhere that has similar work-life balance values to yours is critically important in this discussion. If you're working for a workaholic,  or in a company culture where "those that get ahead" are always working 10 hour+ days, it's going to be hard for you to get far in your career if you want to have a life, not to mention that you're eventually likely to burn out.  If you're working for someone who also values having a full life outside of work, you'll have a much easier time "balancing" your own.

    But, I also think twice before putting work above self-care (exercise, nutrition, etc.). I admittedly find this challenging. One of my mentors gave me this analogy, which might resonate with you: If you think about your life as trying to juggle a bunch of balls, work is a rubber ball. There will always be more work, and if you drop it at any point (or just choose not to toss it as high), you can pick it up and continue to juggle it later. Your health and family, on the other hand, are more like glass balls. If you drop the ball, it shatters, and you can't get it back. You only have one body, and with family and friends, if you don't nurture your relationships they may not be repairable down the road.

    I have three kids and a very involved spouse. The youngest is 4, and I concur with another poster who said it gets easier around age 4, the complete disconnect of the US school system hours with professional work hours not withstanding. One of the key things I've learned is to be ruthless in prioritizing and eliminating anything that is unnecessary, and to delegate everything possible at work and at home. I look at things from the "opportunity cost" perspective of our time - is this the best use of my time right now? And if not, why and I doing what I'm doing and what should I be doing instead? Sometimes that best use is staying up late to work, other times it's playing with the kids.  Only you can know what's best for you in that moment.

    ------------------------------
    Stephanie Slocum P.E.,M.ASCE
    Founder
    Engineers Rising LLC
    ------------------------------



  • 11.  RE: Balancing Work, Health, and Family

    Posted 06-03-2019 07:45 AM
    Hi Luis, I notice that in my case, all the time-issue were related to me not knowing to say "no" to all tasks or petitions people ask. There is an interesting blog that could help with that issue: How to get better at saying no
    The CEO Library remove preview
    How to get better at saying no
    I'm a people pleaser in disguise. I hate saying no to others, especially friends or those I admire. When people come ask for my help or opinion, even if it's just a question thrown as a random reply to this newsletter, it makes me feel important. It fuels my ego.
    View this on The CEO Library >

    (it is related to another context but applies to everyone in any context).

    ------------------------------
    Andres Guzman Ing.,M.ASCE
    Associate Professor
    UNIVERSIDAD DEL NORTE
    Barranquilla
    573004284680
    ------------------------------



  • 12.  RE: Balancing Work, Health, and Family

    Posted 06-03-2019 10:04 AM
    Andres! Thanks for sharing, this is a great article!

    ------------------------------
    Luis Duque EIT,A.M.ASCE
    Structural Engineer
    Broomfield CO
    luis@...
    ------------------------------



  • 13.  RE: Balancing Work, Health, and Family

    Posted 06-03-2019 05:06 PM

    Make a lot of walks to get healthy and don't read that much but save yourself some until you're grown up – there came the advice from the Giant (Albert Einstein; 1879 – 1955) to his young son. Even for a son looking up to his father, it is not that difficult to pursue what Einstein advised – but it is much more difficult to balance things that matter to life, family, profession and career.

    Some of us manage the balancing act better; others are inclined in one or the other direction so much so – that they become entrapped in the vulnerability to fall. And waking up at a certain time, perhaps find that the life and family parts of the equation (glass balls in Stephanie's word) are shattered. There comes the destiny of the irreversibility of processes – defined by the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics – to higher entropy and disorder.



    ------------------------------
    Dr. Dilip Barua, Ph.D, P.Eng, M. ASCE
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Website: https://widecanvas.weebly.com
    ------------------------------



  • 14.  RE: Balancing Work, Health, and Family

    Posted 06-04-2019 11:47 AM

    Luis, I really enjoyed reading the feedback to your question and have walked away with sound advice.  Thanks for posting this question!  I balance my work with other aspects of my life by starting off with a good night of rest.  I've already lost the task of balancing my responsibilities and routines if I don't start off with a full tank.  Carlos Zuluaga's comment about being at peace with letting things go resonated a lot with me as well.  Along those lines, I've created personal goals and expectations for myself and felt guilty if I didn't reach them in a designated time period.    I am learning to give myself a break – literally and figuratively.  Also, spontaneous breaks from a schedule allow me to feel reinvigorated upon my return to a daily routine. From now on, I plan my route but embrace the detours!  



    ------------------------------
    Jameelah Ingram P.E., M.ASCE
    Washington, DC
    ------------------------------