Ok, you probably don’t want to hear that there is something else to do, when you’re stretched thin by your job and family obligations. But everyone I know who has been happily juggling work and family, including myself with husband, two daughters and my own business, always spends time on other activities. Career success is more than your day-to-day job. Family success requires you to be at your best, so neglect yourself at your own peril. Even when you feel like you can’t squeeze one more thing into your schedule, here are 5 invaluable activities to add:
Keep your lunch datesThe unemployment line is littered with people who buried their nose in their computer and looked up to find their job had disappeared. All the major companies — Citigroup, GE, Time Warner — lay people off at one time or another. Then no one knew the worker bees enough to refer them elsewhere. We all know that maintaining your network is the best thing you can do for your career. Building in at least one lunch date a week ensures that you have 50 chances over the next year to take care of your network. One hour per week, but you need to eat anyway, so really zero extra hours per week.
Read somethingFiction could spark your creative juices. Non-fiction could provide some professional development. If a book is too much of a project, start with one article at a time. Just like you want to stretch your networking outside your day-to-day circles, you want to stretch your thinking outside of email and your daily work memos. Fifteen minutes per week for an article up to three hours for a book.
Attend somethingDo you want to be that person who seems to drop off the face of the earth as soon as she has kids? Are you planning to disappear for 18 years till they enter college? Whether it’s a work social, a community event or even catching a show with a friend, get out of the house for more than just your job or family. For professional purposes, remember that recruiters and prospective employers have to be able to find you. Two hours once per month, or 30 minutes per week.
Pursue somethingA board seat would be ideal, but that’s not the only thing worth the wee bit of energy you have left. Having any activity other than immediate work and family duties would qualify here, as long as you love it. It could be Zumba class. It could be a once-a-month book club. It could be spending five minutes once a week calling someone in your contacts book. Remind yourself with your regular non-work/non-family pursuit that you are a multi-dimensional person that exists outside of your immediate obligations. Five minutes once a week up to five to 10 hours average per week for board work.
Hire a trainer, if you mustSome form of physical exercise will pay you back in extra energy that will feel like extra time. Yet, it’s difficult to do this (as my additional 10 pounds since baby two can attest). I coach people on success for a living, but I don’t have the discipline/motivation/etc. to work out, so I hired a trainer. That once a week boost spills over into at least one or usually more days I can exercise on my own. However you do it, squeeze in a workout. A trainer is far less expensive than quitting your job from burn-out. Two hours per week if you train one day and work out on your own at least one other time.
We’re talking 3 hours or less per week to get started and build a super strong foundation for you, your career, and your well-being. Surely, we’re all worth 30 minutes a day.