Aug. 22, 2012
We have all spent time discussing work/life balance, whether you’re a veteran sports marketer or a newbie in your first job. Many of us have struggled to find it, and some even say that we won’t be able to find it. I think we can, but in doing so I propose a different way of thinking about it.
I have found that “balance” may not be the appropriate term. The term “balance” implies that if something is prioritized over another, and therefore becomes more heavily weighted, then there must be some sort of counterbalance where something else in our lives must be less heavily weighted in order to find balance. I disagree with the notion that one thing has to suffer in order to prioritize another.
I didn’t always feel this way. To be honest, when I began my intercollegiate athletics career some 15 years ago, I used the think that logging 70-80 hours a week was some sort of badge of honor. It was only after a few difficult years, and through some great advice from incredibly smart mentors, that I realized that I had to find proportion in my life. Proportion, for me, was about finding the “fit” between my work life and my personal life. While I can’t say that I have found the perfect proportion, I am far more aware of the need to assess how I’m dedicating my time.
Now, a little more about me. First, I am a husband of eight years and father of three wonderful boys (Ryan, 5; Tyler, 3; and C.J., who was born on August 11). I am also a third year Ph.D. student at Indiana University studying Sport Management. Combined with my full-time work at the NCAA, I have certainly felt the pain of trying to find better proportion in my life.
During the past decade and a half, after many failures at finding balance between work and my personal life on two different campuses and at the national office, I try to follow four key points:
1. Prioritize and Delegate. We do this in our work life, with task lists and meetings and other responsibilities, but we don’t do as well prioritizing our personal life. Make time to coach youth soccer, volunteer with a needy organization, read a book, have date night with your spouse or significant other, write a blog, or work on your mental and physical fitness. In addition, don’t spend time on tasks that others can do. Focus on tasks that only you should spend time completing, and give someone else and opportunity to help you check off on some of your tasks.
2. Work Smart. This is easier said than done, and I have failed more than I have succeeded in this area. However, be cognizant of the time you spend chatting with co-workers, posting on Facebook, or generally wasting time avoiding the more important, complex projects. Tackle the complex projects first, then worry about the lower priority tasks and socializing with co-workers.
3. Involve the Family. When your weeks are crammed full of home athletics competitions, do your best to involve the family by bringing them out to a game or two. While they may not want to join you for every game, they may have an interest in a certain sport, especially if you have children. Exposing your children to different sports can be a very rewarding experience for both you and your child.
4. Enjoy the Ride. We all know that there are ups and downs, smooth moments and rough patches in the business of college athletics. At the end of the day, though, take a moment to appreciate what a great opportunity we have to represent a particular school, conference, or association. This is supposed to be fun, so allow yourself to have fun along the way.
Some of these key points may seem simple or may not even be applicable to others. That’s okay. The bottom line is that you can find work/life proportion in college athletics.
Best of luck to all of you as the school year and athletics competitions begin. Please feel free to reach out to me for any questions, suggestions or concerns. You can find me on twitter (@david_lovell) or via email (email@example.com).