Give Some, Get Some
Years ago I worked in a frontline portfolio service position. The work culture was fast-paced, challenging and I was surrounded by bright, energetic colleagues. We were a tight-knit team. A few people in our department started a lunch club where we brought in various foods we had cooked to share. Those not in the 'club' asked how they could get some of the wonderful food. Our answer? "Give some, get some."
This same theory applies to work/life balance. Our organization is in the midst of several community engagement sessions for the next five weeks. For me, this is a great oppportunity to connect directly with our families and students about some of the large scale systems changes we are facing. Gathering this input via facilitation of group discussions is critical to the success of our organization.
Here is the work/life challenge: these meetings are held in the evening. Makes sense since most people work a day shift and wouldn't be able to attend at, say, 1pm. We usually share the opportunity to work at these sessions so the time away from home doesn't fall to one person. My boss had scheduled some well-deserved vacation time with his family prior to the announcement of the dates for the sessions. This means I will be the person representing my department for all but one of the sessions. A lot of extra evenings away from home, wife, new baby girl.
This may sound more tragic than it is. Why? Because my boss is unfailingly supportive of my vacation/time-off requests at other times during the year. Example: he has ensured that I will be off during the holidays this winter. (we did this without conversation, just a way we both approach our work life)
When you are trying to balance everything in YOUR life, try the 'give some, get some' approach with your colleagues, direct reports or boss. You may just be amazed at the flexibility that can come from sharing the opporunities.