Do you feel your life is balanced? Like most everyone, we find
striving for balance between work and home a daily challenge. We
search for balance because we are happy when we do the things we
believe in. It seems simple enough that we should work less and
spend more time doing what we enjoy. The trouble is that we must
shift our mindset from making the outside world happy to making our
inner selves happy. To be good leaders and role models at work, we
need to find balance.
So who are some examples of government leaders exercising work-life
balancing techniques? 13L is an exciting group of mid-career
federal employees who are passionate about the practice of
leadership. The groups purpose is to promote effective leadership
in the federal government, advance meaningful discussion and
inquiry of federal leadership issues, and support fellow members in
their professional growth and career development.
Bureau of Engraving and Printing, U.S .Department of the Treasury
I work in a highly energetic federal agency. There are times when
the demands of the job seem overbearing, but I take comfort in
knowing that tasks set forth are accomplished. I love challenges.
Yet when I leave work, I do not want to shut down and coast.
Leaving work gives me the opportunity to shift gears and steer
myself to other interestsaffording me the opportunity to build
relationships with family, friends, and community.
My first interest is health. I look forward to my exercise
routines, working-out with my wife, or practicing yoga. Results
include becoming healthier and deepening my relationship with my
wife. The second interest falls under community service. I show up
to programs whose mission is to improve others. These results are
not openly obvious, but seen in the faces of those I have helped.
My third interest is involvement with family and friends. The
reward is that I make a difference with a phone call or sharing a
meal. For me, my work-life balance is all about choosing action.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Achieving balance between home and work life is difficult. Work is
the easier part for me because Im naturally geared toward wanting
to make a difference. It is the home-life balance on which I have
to work harder.
My training as an athlete helps me listen to my body and focus on
areas that need attention. The key is listening to this message.
Fortunately, I had an introduction to yoga years ago that helps me
with internal focus getting away from the busy, external work-world
focus, and relaxing in the moment by divorcing myself from nagging
work thoughts, deadlines, and assignments.
Another thing that works for me is spending time alone every day
even if it is only 20 minutes. This allows me time to reflect and
go deeper into thoughts on what is and is not working both at home
and at work. Sometimes answers come out of this silence, which is
generally the time I set aside to specifically break between work
Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Department of Homeland
The word balance dates back to medieval times. When applied to
work-life balance in the 21st century, this word becomes
more important than ever. Coming from a long line of workaholics, I
have struggled to maintain this balance my entire career. Now, even
with fewer demands in my personal life, finding this balance is
still very important to my health and general well-being.
While the nature of my work is very gratifying, it is also highly
stressful. I have to force myself to leave when my daily tour is
finished, even though the workload never goes away and deadlines
are ever present. I keep thinking about my workday on the way home
and into the evening, but this helps me organize my thoughts and
mentally prepare myself for the next day.
When the weekend arrives, my thoughts about work cease, and I
concentrate on enjoying my family and having fun. This seems to
help me to refresh and recharge to start a new work week!
U.S. Department of Education
Teddy Roosevelt once said,Far and away the best prize that life has
to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing. I feel
very grateful to have that chance, and there is certain work, paid
or unpaid, that seems mine to do. Since my children left for
college, my approach to work-life balance gradually has become more
like an artists than an office workers: work like crazy when
inspiration strikes, rest when it doesnt, and practice always.
The balance is self-correcting to some extent; feelings of fatigue
could mean temporary overworkor they could mean Ive misplaced my
compass and am going in the wrong direction. In truth, Im an
artisan whose craft is knowledge. My experience and travel as a
child showed me that there are many ways to lead a fulfilling life.
All the parts of my life are in a constantly changing dance; it is
a dynamic balance.
John Sporing, Jr.
Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts
I have several different things I do to balance my work and
personal life. One is using the automatic shut-off on my office
Blackberry. By using this feature, the device turns off every night
at 8 p.m. and does not turn back on until 5 a.m. the next morning
(and stays off on Saturday and Sunday). This keeps me from casually
walking by and seeing a new email and picking it up and starting to
I also make time to schedule events with friends and family.
Whether it is a dinner, a show or concert, or just a drink to catch
up, I look forward to this and do not want to cancel the event.
Hobbies are another good way to keep my lives separate. Whether it
is collecting wines, reading, or travel, my hobbies give me
something to look forward to outside of the office. The more I want
to do something outside the office, the easier it is keep my lives
Naval Air Systems Command, U.S. Department of Defense
The biggest challenge I have is transitioning my thoughts from work
to home at the end of the work day. Its very tempting to stay just
a few minutes past the time Im scheduled to leave work so I can try
to wrap up loose ends.
I have trained myself to anticipate the end of the work day and get
my desk in order so I can make it out the door on time most days.
This allows me to focus on my personal life while driving home.
By the time I arrive home, I have made that mental transition from
work to home and can maximize my evening time with my spouse and
enjoy home projects and activities.
Some people who routinely work late might try a technique called
pulsing. This is where you decide to work late only certain nights
of the week, and the other nights you leave work at a pre-set time
and concentrate on your home life. This will allow you to bring
balance into your life.
Civilian Personnel Management Service, U.S. Department of Defense
For me, the key to leading a productive life and achieving a
healthy work-life balance is self-reflection. In our fast-paced
world where everything is a priority, self-reflection is an
opportunity to refocus the mind, recharge the body, and reignite
the spirit. I try to carve out 15 to 30 minutes each day for quiet
reflection with minimal interruptions. I am not always successful
in doing this, but I am fairly consistent.
Self-reflection has been very effective for me because it
- provides opportunities to redirect my attention on the
important things and avoid wasting precious time on unimportant
- allows me to sharpen my awareness about the causes of certain
mistakes and what to do differently the next time I face similar
- offers a welcome chance to remember what I have done well,
helping to bolster my resilience and build confidence to tackle the
Practicing work-life balance will be of benefit to your
productivity and bring you inner peace. Being a role model in this
area will set a good example for others to followultimately,
improving everyones balance.