If we want our daughters and sons to enjoy a more integrated approach to professional and personal fulfillment, we must continue the conversations that invigorated the Third Metric conference.
I was honored to participate in the event's panel on managing a frenetic life. It's a topic I live every day as founder and chief marketing officer of fast-growing Angie's List and the married mom of three kids under 10. For their sake, and on behalf of all who struggle with our culture's current model of success, I want to keep talking about the need for a more sustainable and satisfying model.
Part of that means sharing what works in my own quest for happiness. Here are five of my top coping tips:
1. Be responsible for your priorities. Only you can know what you most want and need when it comes to making a job work with the whole of your life. I realize I have more control over my work schedule than many people, but it takes real effort to prioritize. Without active management, it won't work.
If attending one of my children's events is important to me, I need to do what I can to make it happen. Nobody will tap me on the shoulder during a meeting to say it's time to leave for my daughter's play. It's up to me to do what I can to make the most of my limited time and energy.
Of course, there are times when my desire to be with my family conflicts with a work obligation. But as often as possible, I stick to my goal of being home for dinner at 6 p.m. and being judicious and highly organized about business travel.
2. Be willing to ask for what you want and need. The fear of hearing "no" can keep many of us from voicing what we need at work and home. But I encourage you to summon the courage and do it anyway.
My co-panelist, Joanna Coles, editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, related how her disappointment in a boss' disapproval of her need to take time off for a family matter was a catalyst for leaving that job for one with more autonomy.
She may be right that the higher up on the corporate food chain a person is, the easier it is to adjust one's schedule for personal reasons. But I believe those of us in leadership positions can help others at every level by being more open about what we need to be successful. We can also do our part to shine a spotlight on the issue by sharing our own challenges and solutions.
3. Be OK with who you are and what works for you. My sometimes very public role with Angie's List is something I couldn't have imagined as an economics major in college. And I was surprised to learn that several of my famous co-panelists are, like me, introverted: Arianna Huffington, the actress Candice Bergen and television journalist George Stephanopoulos. Another, writer Susan Cain, has written a provocative book on the topic: Quiet: The Power of Introverts.
Being an introvert doesn't mean I can't effectively interact with others; it does require that I respect my need to counter times of intense interaction with periods of calm and relaxation. Being with my family is one of my top rejuvenators, even if three kids don't always provide the optimum environment for quiet reflection. Our style at home, though, is to keep life simple. As a family, we're not that outgoing, and that's fine by me.
4. Build fun into your day. One of my favorite ways to break up an especially hectic time at work is to attend one of my children's activities. In the weeks before leaving Indianapolis for the Third Metric and other New York meetings, I took time to chaperone a field trip and observe a class play.
Childhood is fleeting; I don't want to miss too many special -- and everyday -- moments. That doesn't diminish my commitment to making Angie's List the best it can be. If anything, it enhances my ability to be more focused and productive.
5. Give yourself a break. Many Third Metric speakers decried the perfectionism that leads some people, particularly women, to sabotage their well-being. Rather than being proud about working 24/7 and all the vacation we never got around to using, we should consider the ways insufficient sleep and rest hurt our work performance. All of us, at every level of business, need to get away and refresh occasionally. I've been known to tell direct reports that I expect to see their vacation on my calendar.
These five approaches help me manage an often hectic pace. What works for you? I appreciate that Arianna and Mika created a time and place to start this conversation, as well as a public space through which to amplify it. Let's keep talking about how to do better for ourselves right now. Coming generations will thank us.
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post in conjunction with our women's conference, "The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power" which will take place in New York on June 6, 2013. To read all of the posts in the series and learn more about the conference, click here. Join the conversation on Twitter #ThirdMetric.