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Dear Matt: I've got so much going on in my life that I don't have time to handle it all and it's starting to affect my work. I just can't stay focused at work; my mind is wandering off on the personal things I need to take care of - cleaning, bills, doctor appointments, caring for elder parents, running the kids here and there - the list goes on and on. I can't take any more time off and it's hard to make calls on these things at work. What can I do to better balance my work/life responsibilities?
Matt: You certainly have a lot going on, and it's no doubt stressful to try and manage this busy life. The first thing you need to do is get organized and start making lists, says Rachel Hastings, vice president of WFC Resources (www.WFCResources.com), a Twin Cities-based company that provides services to help organizations and individuals achieve their work/life goals.
Document everything that needs to get done: phone calls, bills, doctor's appointments and your family's daily/weekly schedule. What can you cross of that list and get done during the day, evening or weekend?
"Once you're clear on those priorities, you need to make sure you maximize your time outside of work to get as much done as possible," says Hastings. "Can you use your lunch break to deal with these issues? Whenever possible use technology like online bill paying to speed up mundane items."
At work, have a talk with your manager or with an HR representative to find out what services and resources your organization can offer to help. Many employers offer eldercare resource and referral, concierge services and other forms of support. Sometimes added stress can come from not communicating this with your employer. A good manager can empathize with you, and that can be a huge stress relief - just knowing they are on your side.
"Your manager may also be helpful in talking over your options for flextime or other strategies to help manage your work and personal life, and at least they can understand your commitments and responsibilities," adds Hastings.
Talk about this with other co-workers - what are they doing to get it all done? Try to identify others who can help at home and with care of elders. Can another sibling take a greater role? Can your spouse help around the house? Can another parent take your children to their events?
Get organized, find some additional help, and then take a deep breath and realize you can get it all done. You have before and you will in the future.