What happens to relationships when work must take center stage?
When you’re balancing work, relationships, and faith, there will be times when one area of your life has to take precedence for a time. When a major work deadline requires investment of extra hours and energy, it can put a strain on your relationships. But there are steps you can take to help safeguard your relationships.
Keep balance in perspective– Don’t let every deadline become a majorly disruptive event. Make no mistake, this requires real discipline. In Chapter 17 of “Work, Love, Pray,” I talk about the importance or setting firm boundaries around when you leave the office each day, how much travel you do, and how available you are on the weekends. Yes, sometimes you have to make adjustments, but if you’re not careful, those “temporary adjustments” will become your new normal.
A great way to check yourself on this point is to talk things through regularly with a trusted friend or mentor. It’s best to talk to someone who knows and understands your priorities and who can help you dispassionately assess your time commitments. If you don’t have a mentor and you’d like one, consider participating in 4word’s fall mentor match program.
When your quantity of time is short, emphasize quality– during extra-busy periods, make your time with loved ones count. Be focused and present. This one is especially tough for me because I tend to always be “in motion,” but it’s absolutely critical.
If you’re married, make sure you have a daily routine together, even if it’s just 5 minutes before you get out of bed to make sure the two of you are in sync. Chris and I always ran in the mornings, and some days that was the only quality time I got with him, but I always knew if I was working late that come morning, we’d be running together again. Today Chris and I don’t get out of bed without praying together if we are in the same city. If we are in different cities, I pray before I get up, then we call each other in the morning.
Prepare ahead of time– When you know a tough time is coming up at work, talk it through with your loved ones well ahead of time. Chris and I had regular “coordination” sessions, where we’d go to lunch and talk through our calendars for the next month or two. It was especially important for us to make sure that at least one of us was fully available for the kids at all times. But even if you don’t have kids, or for that matter, even if you’re not married, it’s really helpful to know what’s going on for your loved ones at work.
Another thing you can do when you know a work deadline is headed your way is to plan a special time with loved ones or family for a time when the deadline is passed. That way you all have something to look forward to. Chris and I tried to take at least one weekend a month to spend together as a family at our ranch. We also planned special trips for just the two of us, and each of our kids got one special trip alone each year with mom or dad. Knowing that I had these trips coming always helped me through the difficult times, and they were a great way to refresh those relationships.
Now it’s your turn: what do you do to safeguard relationships when work gets intense?