2017-09-07 12:42:34 UTC

Work-Life Balance: Communication Is Key

Sept. 7, 2017

Members share how they communicate with spouses and family to help juggle work and personal priorities.

One secret to maintaining a balance between your work and personal life is to keep your calendar up to date — making plans far in advance — while keeping your spouse and family in the loop with transparency and open communication. 

That was the unanimous advice shared by members in the AGA Community Early Career Group during an eQ&A session. Here are some key takeaways based on this discussion:

Create a routine – It’s easier for you and your family to stay organized and keep up with your busy work schedule if there are some consistencies. Laurie Keefer, PhD, AGAF, says that she chooses one night a week to work late and is sure to pack a snack. “Just knowing I have one extended evening without a ‘hard stop’ to, in my case, pick up and feed, bathe kids, makes me much more fun during the evenings the rest of the week,” she says. 

Create a joint calendar – Avinash Ketwaroo, MD, recommends a shared Google calendar between you and your partner, to keep everyone’s schedules easily accessible and in-tow. Having an electronic calendar also allows you to instantly write down a commitment and ensure times off work well for you both, according to Dr. Ketwaroo. 

Create time to organize and communicate – Dr. Keefer schedules a breakfast outing once a month with her husband to discuss calendars and anticipated events. “We also try to hold off on confirming trips or big events at work without discussing first (sometimes it is just a quick text from work like – are you around on such and such a date),” she says. “It definitely gets a little hairy and we often have to rely on family support for the times when we are both out of pocket.”

Megan Riehl, PsyD, mentions that she and her spouse find time to talk when it’s available, even if it’s brief. “Usually at night before bed at the end of a month we talk about the logistics of trips, late nights for meetings or coverage for the baby that we need to find for the following month.”

Plan ahead when possible – It’s not always easy, but scheduling events or making arrangements for future plans far in advance is always rewarding, especially in terms of your personal life: vacations, weddings and holiday get-togethers, for example, all require actions that can be completed in advance, such as packing, buying presents, finding a caregiver, etc. 

When things go awry, set clear priorities – Then, when you accidentally double-book your weekend, you can give preference to one commitment over the other. Dr. Keefer said that she has determined that family events come first, and others fall into place around it. 

Stay true to your commitments – “I think the bottom line is to be mindful in whatever you are supposed to be doing in the time you have allotted,” Dr. Keefer says. “So, if you are participating in family/home time, participate in family/home time fully (e.g. put away the computer, my chart messaging, journal articles you have to read)."

“I do not do patient documentation at home. I find I am more resentful of that eating into my family time than I am of grants, research, manuscripts.”

If you haven’t already, download the Work-Life Balance Tip Sheet and share your advice on how to best stay on top of busy schedules.