What happens to relationships when work must take center stage? When you're trying to balance work, relationships, and faith, there will inevitably be times when one area of your life has to take precedence. For example, when an important work deadline requires you to invest extra hours and energy, it can put a strain on your relationships. During such times, there are steps you can take that will help safeguard your relationships.
Keep balance in perspective
Every deadline should not become a majorly disruptive event. Make no mistake, this requires real discipline. In my book Work, Love, Pray, I talk about the importance of 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 will have to make adjustments, but if you're not careful, those "temporary adjustments" will become your new normal. So be careful: if you let them, many of the demands of work can feel like justifiable disruptions to your relationship routines.
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 objectively assess your time commitments. If you don't have a mentor and you'd like one, consider participating in 4word's mentor match program.
When your quantity of time is short, emphasize the quality of time you invest in critical relationships. 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 for me to put work away and spend some precious time fully present with my family.
If you're married, make sure you have a daily routine together. Just five minutes before you get out of bed to make sure the two of you are in sync will do wonders! My husband Chris and I used to run together in the mornings, and some days that was the only quality time I got with him. 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.
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Diane Paddison is a business professional and founder of 4wordwomen.org, local groups of professional working women committed to faith, family, work, and each other.