Get a life that works


Sometimes life happens, and other times you can take charge-if you know what to do. Consider these tips to help make your life and your work in veterinary practice work together.

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It’s no surprise that 81 percent of team members say they wish they had more time to devote to family and personal activities. So what strategies can you use to make your work life work for you? Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member Julie Mullins, staff training coordinator for Seaside Animal Care in Calabash, N.C., says using that two-letter word—“no”—is tough when your interests are far reaching. While she admits she struggles with this issue herself, she says it’s important to make time to do the things you really love to do—a sort of reset button for yourself.

The sticking point, of course, comes when you feel out of balance. About 22 percent of respondents say family responsibilities have slowed their advancements or careers. About 58 percent are concerned about the effects of work on their personal health, and 73 percent report they’re worried they weigh too little or too much. Figure 1 shows many team members say they aren’t getting enough exercise. And Figure 2 shows about one-third of team members feel it’s difficult to balance a personal life and receive promotions.

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How-to tip: 3 steps for better balance

1. Avoid working more than 40 hours a week, if possible.Firstline board member Julie Mullins recommends taking time each week to evaluate your weekly schedule. For team leaders and managers, she advises meeting with your team to share your plan. Delegate what you are able, and train others to handle tasks. “When others know how to do tasks, you’re not stuck doing it all yourself, leading to extended hours,” she says.

2. Get creative. “When you’re away from work, think about all of the angles to solve your work problems so you can return to work and present your ideas to managers,” Mullins says. “These problem-solution brainstorms energize you to keep pushing forward. During one brainstorming session over dinner with my husband, I discovered a solution to solve our lunch staffing issues at our new facility.”

3. Encourage your co-workers to find balance too. “Remind others to take time off when you see them functioning on autopilot,” she says. “Sometimes even encouraging them to cut back their hours for a period of time may be necessary for them to find the needed down time to relax and reset.” Remember, when team members are burnt out, they’re thinking about how they feel instead of the work that needs to be accomplished. On the other hand, relaxed, rested people can focus their energy on their tasks and draw on their energy reserves.

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