Rhonda Richardson is the Acting General Manager of Customer Care at Chorus.
What do you do day-to-day/long term to ensure you have a good work-life balance?
I don’t tend to think of work and life as separate things – rather I’m living my life and a part of that is work. I absolutely love the work that I do (most of the time!), so I don’t make the distinction. My role can be 24/7, particularly responding to weather events or network outages, so I can’t easily define when “work” is over.
The usual things around your own health and fitness are really important. So is ensuring you have a great support network of family and friends. A supportive partner is essential.
What tools do you use to help you maintain work-life balance?
We operate a virtual desktop, which is absolutely awesome and means I can log in from any device at any time and see my screen exactly how I left it. Working from home or on the road is absolutely no problem.
I use other standard tools such as email and diary on my phone. I put everything in the diary, including school calendar events, and do as much personal admin on the internet as possible (e.g. banking, shopping, paying bills).
Do you think you’re good at keeping a good balance?
I think I am pretty good at getting the balance right. It’s definitely important to be present for the important and big stuff in the lives of your family and friends. I plan and get things in the diary early.
You do have to learn to say no sometimes and get good at managing the expectations of others when work and personal events clash. Absolutely share the load with your partner. It’s really important for kids to see both Mum and Dad as equals – both at home and working.
How do you choose what to prioritise in both work and life?
You will have different priorities at different stages of your life and career. When my children were pre-schoolers, I consciously chose to work part-time in order to spend time with my kids and continue to progress my career. The balance has probably changed now that my children are teenagers and they need you for different things (namely money and to drive them places!). My husband is self-employed and is totally flexible with his time, which absolutely makes it easier for me.
Holidays are really important, so I always prioritise taking a break. If your annual leave balance isn’t close to zero or negative, then you’re missing out! Take at least two weeks off at a time, delegate as much of your day-to-day work as possible to your team, and don’t interfere while you’re on leave, other than in an emergency. As a leader, it’s essential to give trust. It gives your people a chance to step up and gain experience.
What’s your advice to other people who feel like they struggle with work-life balance?
Don’t over think the work/life balance thing, which can be easier said than done! Feeling guilty about not working enough or not mothering enough isn’t good for anyone – especially you.
Say no to things that you feel half-hearted about, ask for help, use technology and don’t be afraid to outsource – get a cleaner, order shopping online, car pool for kids activities.
Achieving Balance is a new series that looks at how busy professionals manage their day-to-day. Read our first interview with Jan Meyers here.