Three Ways To Balance Work & Family

In the last year I sang and spoke in 81 cities. I posted twice from overseas with a group of bloggers I assembled and herded led. I managed a team of worship leaders and other volunteers as our church transitioned from a cafeteria to a permanent home. I wrote at and contributed a few words to too.

And I stayed married! My kids still call me “Dad” – so, at the very least, they recognize me. But I think they like me too.

This is no small feat. There should be a plaque right?

A much younger artist called me yesterday to ask how I balance work and family…and the rest of life. My answer is pointedly simple. There are only three ways it can be done.

Let Your Family Down

You can't truly be successful in your business life if your home life is a shambles. -Zig ZiglarMy family doesn’t expect me to provide the minimum necessary to keep them alive. They expect me to be present, involved, contributing – in ways that make their life easier, fuller, better.

I can’t always be the best at work, the ever-present friend, the best-seller, or the beloved church volunteer and meet expectations at home.

Let Your Work Down

My bosses want me to do more than just show up and collect a check. They want me to produce tangible meaningful results, to do work no one else can do because no one else has my skills and perspective. (If they do, I’m redundant.)

I’d love to stay home and play Scrabble with my wife, drink sweet tea side-by-side on the back porch, watch the kids play across a weedless lawn. But my laziness would become someone else’s emergency, robbing some other family of time together. And, besides, sweet tea costs money and no one on their deathbed regrets not winning “Yard of the Month.”

Let Everyone Else Down

I choose to make the people at home the top priority by frequently and honestly talking with Becky and the kids about what they need from me and how I can be a better husband and dad. Then my other priorities are obvious with just a quick look at my to-do lists.

Using to-do lists to prioritize time
(I use Clear on my laptop and phone to maintain these to-do lists.)

In last place is “Other.” That thank you card that needs to be written. That friend who wants to grab lunch. That book I need to write an endorsement for.

I have ten items on my “Other” list today. Ten things that matter, but not more than everything else. Ten people I’m letting down. Ten people who may not like me as much as I’d like them to. This keeps me up some nights.

But this is the only way I know to balance work and family: make them both a priority and let everyone else down on a regular basis.