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Keeping a Sane Work/Life Balance in Tech

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Keeping a Sane Work/Life Balance in Tech
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Episode Transcript:


Balancing work life and personal life has always been a challenge up until and continuing into the pandemic. There are actionable and adaptable ways to achieve this balance. In this episode, Lauren Ward talks to Nyasha Green about her six main tips for work life balance, including one bonus seventh tip.

Nyasha Green:
Hey Lauren, how are you doing today?

Lauren Ward:
I’m doing great Ny. How are you?

Nyasha Green:
I’m doing well, doing well. I’m really excited to speak with you today. We’re going to talk about an article that you did for MasterWP. The title was Boundaries, Zoom Calls, and Potty-talk:Keeping a sane work/life balance in tech. And I just wanted to ask you a couple of questions about your article and just talk about a few things that I thought were really interesting that you wrote. And I just want to start off by asking you what inspired you to write this article?

Lauren Ward:
Wow. So my kids and my personal journey were definitely a big inspiration for me, but also knowing that there are others out there in tech looking for a better work, life balance, whether it’s newbies, who might just be starting off in WordPress and wondering how in the world are going to juggle all the things and still enjoy life. Or if it’s the seasoned WordPress developer, who’s realizing that there are just some things in life they want to switch up for a better balance. That’s kind of where my inspiration came from. And honestly, I’m just hoping that my ideas help others in some way.

Nyasha Green:
Nice. Nice. And you start off the article by talking about just the routine that you have for not only your family, but yourself. Do you think it’s easier now to do all the things that you are able to do now because you have a routine set?

Lauren Ward:
Oh, absolutely. Having a routine in place and setting expectations, not only for my family, but also within myself has proven to help me achieve both day to day work goals, like getting a project completed as well as long term personal goals, like taking a trip or vacation every now and then. And as a side note, I’ve found that having a trip to look forward to even a small one helps so much with being consistent in routines, kind of like a little reward.

Nyasha Green:
Yeah, definitely. And with your routine, were you the main one to set this routine up or was it you and your partner? How did you guys go about it?

Lauren Ward:
My husband and I definitely worked together to set up our routines and create structure for a productive week. We rely, heavily rely on good communication between us and our shared Google Calendar really helps us along. But setting our routine has not only allowed us to accomplish work goals, but also having more quality time as a family, as well as being intentional and parenting our kids together. And that’s not to say that every day is a win, but having our routines in place has really helped us along.

Nyasha Green:
That is so awesome. And it’s funny you say that. I’ve tried to share my Google Calendar with my husband, like a million times. And he finally told me he was like, there’s no way I’m looking at that. I don’t know what you have going on, but the technology you can use to support these routines are definitely, really awesome.

Lauren Ward:
Absolutely.

Nyasha Green:
How long did it take you all to get into a good routine? I know we’ve talked in the past about how been pretty organized and you are organized. You’re like my role model when it comes to organization. I need help. But how long did it take for you all to get on a good routine together?

Lauren Ward:
Well, it’s definitely been a work in progress. Starting off, we tested different strategies and found things that worked for us as well as things that didn’t, and when something didn’t work, we just simply adjusted our strategy and moved forward from there. I think it’s all about testing to see what works and what doesn’t and just having a positive attitude in general about it, but also staying flexible. And when it comes to working while having kids at home, things come up and you sometimes just have to roll with it.

Nyasha Green:
Yeah. And speaking of, so you do have two boys. You do have children. I just know you have to have a good story. Do you have any good or funny stories about having them at home while you’re working?

Lauren Ward:
Yes. Oh my goodness. Yes. One in particular, I was on a business call with about 15 other professionals and it was my turn to talk. And my little one came in, running into the room, wrapped his arms around me while I was on video, wrapped his arms around my head and gave me the biggest hug and a kiss on the cheek and announced to everyone that he needed to use the restroom, that he was a toddler. So he said, I need to go potty. And he ran off and fortunately everyone on the call or most people were also parents. So they kind of got a chuckle out of it. I’ve course turned 20 shades of red and kind of stumbled through my portion of the discussion, but it was definitely a good story to tell later.

Nyasha Green:
So that first of all, that’s awesome. I just love how free and carefree kids are.

Lauren Ward:
Yeah. Exactly.

Nyasha Green:
And that’s also a really good example of, we have a set routine of what the children do and they know that you’re working, but sometimes you can’t account for a free spirited child to come in and throw a wrench into that routine. That’s really, really funny. Thank you for sharing that with us.

Lauren Ward:
Of course. Yeah.

Monet Davenport:
Thank you for listening up to this point. Press The Issue by MasterWP is sponsored by LearnDash. Your expertise makes you money doing what you do. Now let it make you money teaching what you do. To create a course with LearnDash visit learndash.com. Press The issue is also sponsored by WP Wallet. WP Wallet is a new way to organize client plug-in license keys and invoices with one simple and intelligent tool. Never miss a license renewal, never lose a license key and never struggle with invoicing again with WP wallet. Visit us at wpwallet.com. Now back to the podcast.

Nyasha Green:
And speaking of children too, I know we talk about screen time and you talk about it in your article. I really thought this was really cool because when you hear people talking about screen time these days, they’re just talking about how it’s so bad and how, especially for children, we shouldn’t have them on screens. They should be outside running around and things like that. But you have ideas of positive ways to incorporate it in your routine. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Lauren Ward:
Oh, absolutely. So the pediatricians say to keep screen time to a minimum and I completely agree with that, but I think that using it intentionally to get through meetings or short work sprints is also extremely beneficial in getting your project milestone complete and making it to that next point in your project. So I think that you should minimize it. And I’m not saying that kids should be on their screens for long periods of time, but just getting through a meeting or a work sprint, I think it can be very, very beneficial.

Nyasha Green:
Yeah. And then there are also kids. They’re learning and growing. You put the idea in my head that they can definitely get in some educational moments. Screen time doesn’t have to be social media or YouTube or movies and shows. It can also be some time for the kids to maybe learn something and it contributes to their growth and health and gives you a break and gives you time to get things together for them.

Lauren Ward:
Absolutely. Absolutely. My kids are usually on educational apps or learning games specifically when they’re on screen time.

Nyasha Green:
So Lauren, you talk a little bit about creating a structure in your house. Just going back to your son coming in when you were on a meeting. The structure you create by making sure you have a dedicated workspace and things like that when you have your kids home, was that difficult or easy to create?

Lauren Ward:
That’s a great question. Personally I thrive on structure as it helps with setting expectations for my work day and keeping me focused on the task at hand. So instead of waking up and just sitting at my desk, I wake up, change clothes, eat breakfast, brush my teeth, get the kids situated, and then sit down at my desk. So it kind of helps to have that routine structure, to get to my desk and have a clear mind about what I’m doing.

Nyasha Green:
So Lauren, we all work from home. And I know that you talk about in your article having an office area and space dedicated to work. Do you have any advice or tips for parents for creating one, especially parents who have kids at home while they work, or even people who might not be parents like me, who I just need help with having a dedicated space at home?

Lauren Ward:
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, personally, I would suggest setting up a dedicated workspace if you’re able to, whether it’s at the dining table or a nook somewhere in your house, or if you have space that has walls and a door, that’s even better. But having this set workspace is really going to show your kids and your spouse that you’re working. And this might help with not having as many interruptions during your work day.

Nyasha Green:
You’re right. Because me, I am unorganized, chaos magnified I feel,

Lauren Ward:
No.

Nyasha Green:
I am, but it’s like I get the question a lot, like people are like, I don’t see how people can work from home. And I love it. I love working from home and it’s like, I do have my dedicated area, but I can only imagine if I wasn’t as unorganized, like I had this just this little carved out space for me, which I kind of have, but it’s not like what I want. I had this carved out space for me, how much more focused and attentive I probably would be. Because I can see the kitchen from here. And so I’m definitely around noon-ish, like maybe it’s snack time.

Lauren Ward:
I think a lot of people would feel that so hard.

Nyasha Green:
Oh yeah. So this is really, really good advice. Thank you. Thank you. And I have another question for you. So what advice would you give to newbies entering the field? You may find yourself talking to someone who just got into not even just tech, but they’re working from home and in a similar situation as you. So what advice would you give to those people just starting up and just trying to balance and do some of the things that you’ve advised in the article?

Lauren Ward:
Yeah, so I mean, I would suggest just take one day at a time, roll with the punches. It’s a good starting place. I think everyone comes in at different starting places with their journey with WordPress, but we should walk into it with an open mind and with excitement because the WordPress community, it’s an exciting community to be a part of.

Nyasha Green:
Yeah, totally. Awesome. Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Lauren, for taking the time to sit down with me. Your article is awesome. I can’t wait until your next one and I can’t wait until we can do this again. And you’re so awesome. And this article was really helping a lot of people. I get a lot of feedback on Twitter about it, so thank you. Thank you. Thank you again.

Lauren Ward:
Oh, absolutely. And thank you so much for having me. It was an absolute pleasure talking with you Ny.

Monet Davenport:
Thank you for listening to this episode. Press The Issue is a production of MasterWP produced by Allie Nimmons, hosted, edited, and musically supervised by Monet Davenport and mixed and mastered by Teron Bullock. Please visit masterwp.com/presstheissue to find more episodes. Subscribe to our newsletter for more WordPress news at masterwp.com.