Jun 4

Work-life balance, procrastination and foxes

Fritz LTAC Board

Volunteer Fritz Hartley made custom boards to extend the display of LTAC 2018.

I should have written this blog yesterday but didn’t.

Instead, I made crepes from my dad’s recipe, washed three loads of clothes, learned a no-fail pie crust recipe from my stepson, ordered adaptive gear for my brother and worked on a surprise party for my in-laws 60th wedding anniversary.

Color this my most recent foray into work-life balance.

Oh, to be sure, my weekend was not SPR-free. It started with a 5:30 p.m. Friday call from a worried client, reviewed edits on an article from another client Saturday morning and made a pit stop to check on a building project for a nonprofit Saturday afternoon. Before my family arrived for Sunday brunch, I had finished drafting an RFP, sent media monitoring reports to three clients, responded to a dozen inquiries into our open position, shared a social media post and outlined content for a weekly newsletter. Throughout, my weekend was peppered with emails and texts – no more, no less than a typical weekend for a small business owner.

My Sunday to-do list had a few other work items on it, including editing another newsletter and starting on invoices. But brunch turned into baking, which led into trying (and failing) to install Netflix on my brother’s iPad that was followed by printing and signing 100-plus letters for said anniversary party – and before you know it, it was time to put away the dishes from brunch and start working on dinner.

For many years, my attempts at the work-life balance equation were pretty simple. With no kids of my own, I was the one who stayed late or came in early so that co-workers could watch a child play soccer or attend a concert. I had no one at home who needed help with homework, no after-school rides to the library, no lunches to pack. My evenings and weekends were my own – and if I chose to share them with work, well, that was my choice.

That equation changed nine years ago when my dad became ill. I spent the better part of eight months traveling to Ohio for long weekends to care for him and for my younger brother, who was struggling to manage daily life in a condo that wasn’t always the most wheelchair-friendly.

It was a challenge trying to juggle client demands with my father’s frequent doctor visits and hospitalizations. I still remember my first “no” to a client during this time. The client called to discuss a press release while surgeons tried to repair my dad’s leaking heart – and I just couldn’t do it. I just didn’t have the mental bandwidth at that point, and while my client was surprised to hear no, he was also respectful.

A lot has changed in my life since that time. I’ve gone from a solo practitioner with occasional contract help to a full-fledged agency with seven team members. I’ve gotten married, adding a stepson, in-laws and a host of new aunts and uncles to my family. My younger brother now lives in Grand Rapids, which makes caring for him both easier – and more intense.

So, I’m now the one who needs the grace of “balance” – the flexibility to take my brother to doctor appointments or to drop everything and meet him when he heads to the hospital. The occasional leaving work “early” (read: 6 p.m.) to be able to enjoy a weeknight dinner with my stepson and husband. An every-so-often Friday off to travel to Midland to help my in-laws.

Work is, and will always be, a priority. It is also a joy, since I am fortunate to truly love what I do. But on weekends like this one, I chose to spend a little more time with my family – and a little less on some of the work tasks that can wait.

Like this blog. When I got up yesterday morning, it was high on my mental to-do list. Yet by the time I headed to bed after the 11 p.m. news, I had only the roughest idea of my topic. That meant getting up a little extra early so that I could head into the office and tackle this before the phones and emails start.

That decision was rewarded when I caught a glimpse of our neighborhood’s elusive fox as I was driving down Laraway Lake at 5:40 this morning.

It’s 7:12 and the blog is done. One of my team is in early to help wrap up the RFP. Email has yet to start pouring in. This has all the makings of an exceptional day.

5 thoughts on “Work-life balance, procrastination and foxes”

  1. Erin says:

    I have suspected for YEARS that friendly woodland creatures contribute to your productivity… Heigh ho!

    1. Brian Jon Greenleaf says:

      Erin, that’s long been the rumor — which I can neither confirm nor deny. — Mary Ann

  2. Robin Keith says:

    Another amazing blog post, Mary Ann.

    1. Brian Jon Greenleaf says:

      Thanks, Robin #babysteps — Mary Ann

  3. Mary Helmic says:

    Enjoyed reading this. Thank you for sharing your innermost thoughts with us!

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