September 14, 2018
We’re all familiar with the adage of “work smarter, not harder” and its many forms as it relates to our professional lives. We know long hours aren’t always a sign of success, but it’s hard to get away from the culture of “busy” in many professions, including advertising.
Long days and weeks are worn like a badge of honor. Memories of stress and exhaustion fade quickly. And soon we’re recounting war stories from the trenches of a busy pitch with humor and camaraderie. In most agencies, teams combat overwork by implementing process, relying on teamwork, prioritizing and having strong communication.
Hell, that sounds a whole lot like my Wednesday night.
Living with a toddler means we’re deploying every coping mechanism in the book, every day of the week. Our house is a battleground and we’re fighting tooth and nail to stick to the bedtime routine, stay on top of juggling dinner prep, manage bath time, get on pajamas and more. We’re playing defense against every stall tactic in the book. Oh, and the dog needs to be let out. Or we forgot something at the store. Or the coyotes are outside and the animals are going nuts. It’s essentially controlled chaos.
So, we’ve taken some of our best work advice around work/life balance and time management and applied it to our home life. And the results have been impressive.
Here’s what working smarter, not harder, looks like in the Weaver/Misfeldt household:
Local Crate helps us prioritize healthy eating and cooking together without the stress that comes with hours of food planning and prep every Sunday. We get three meals a week and hit the grocery store on a non-busy day to pick up a few essentials and quick dinners. (Local Crate is a client, but this opinion is all mine and we pay for the service.)
We all know hard work is important, but there are times when – no matter the amount of hours or energy put into something – the end result is still the same. This is how I feel about laundry. We’re lucky if clean laundry makes it out of a laundry basket and into a drawer some weeks. (Maybe months, if I’m being honest.) And I’m 100 percent OK with it. Clean clothes are clean whether they’re in a drawer or a basket, and they’re still just one step away from landing in the dirty laundry again.
We are constantly asking questions to our peers, support groups and each other. It’s important to build camaraderie with those who have been in the trenches and weathered the storm. And it’s important for us to check in with each other, asking if we’re OK and feeling good about how things are going at home.
Closely tied to the previous tidbit, this one is huge for us. If we don’t like something, we change it. Dwelling on negatives can be detrimental, but channeling that energy into initiative and learning something new can make a difficult situation less troublesome.
We haven’t entered coupon clipping territory, but I’ve become much more of a bargain hunter as we accumulate and outgrow baby clothing and gear. We’re no longer a one-stop shop family. It’s Amazon for all things diapers and baby toiletries. Target runs for baby clothes, miscellaneous gear, essentials for mom and dad and sparkling water. Trader Joe’s for bulk organic goods. Lakewinds for groceries and our local wine shop for a bottle of red. While it makes for more stops, I love the routines at each of these places and they each satisfy a need that the other lacks.
Two words. Amazon. Prime.
Much like we look back on a stressful or challenging project with fond memories, we spend the evening on the couch looking at photos and videos of this adorable child we’re raising — laughing and reminiscing about the day. And we wake up and do it all over again.