After nearly a year into working from home, it’s safe to say we're all still on the lookout for ways to balance good work at our jobs, maintain our physical and mental health, and nurture our relationships with family and friends. 

To cap off 2020, Propel Her (Propeller’s gender diversity initiative launched in 2017), hosted a leadership panel discussion, Boundaries & Balance: Finding Your Path in Unprecedented Times. Panelists including Propeller's own Amy Weeden, along with Heather Stewart, Global VP, COO, CSCO, The Village Company, and Angie Tomlinson, Principal Management Analyst, City of Portland Bureau of Development Services, shared their journey, perspectives, and tips on how they’ve worked to find a sustainable work/life balance while at home, and how they choose to model and lead this approach for their remote workforces.

Without daily commutes or business travel, we might have more downtime but can feel guilty and torn about how we use the extra time in ways that feel productive. Or, we might feel conflicted if we’re choosing to work instead of taking care of other life commitments. Creating boundaries allows us to intentionally find ways to separate work life and personal life when our home is also our office. Without addressing these issues and finding balance, burnout can easily creep in, which can cause all kinds of problems—from physical health to mental health, relationship strains, and ineffectiveness in all areas of your life.

This exceptional discussion (recording available below), dives into the challenges women face in creating balance, especially during this time. The panelists shared how women can navigate boundaries and make sure their voices are heard and how they manage their energy and productivity in both the workplace and the marketplace.

Here are some key pearls of wisdom shared by these leaders during the panel discussion. 

Evaluating priorities in what receives your energy and attention: 

I try to be thoughtful and structured about calendaring all the various components of my life, both work and personal. Carving up my time and tasks helps remove personal stress because I’ve made space for my priorities. I think it’s also critical for us to recognize that we’re not going to get everything done each day—and to be kind to ourselves. Just move that item to the next day and be OK with that. — Amy Weeden
I have to make sure that I’m whole first before I can effectively help and lead others, which I love to do. So, I prioritize my family first, then my team, then others outside of that. It’s like a concentric circle of prioritization that has served me well. — Heather Stewart

Fostering an environment that honors boundaries in the workplace:

As a functional leader, I’m responsible for being an umbrella that protects my team from too much organizational pressure from the board or senior leadership, to be that filter that helps keep individuals focused on their role in support of key objectives and not become overwhelmed. — Heather Stewart
Observe people and check-in so that you can help them keep their passion alive especially during periods of heavy work. Remind them to strive for excellence, not perfection.
— Angie Tomlinson
It’s important to be flexible so that when one person is having a hard time, the rest of the team is there to support them and pick up the slack. If your people know that the work won’t get dropped, they will feel more comfortable asking for help and expressing their limitations. 
Amy Weeden

A tried-and-true decision guide 

Below is what’s referred to as the Eisenhower Matrix—a decision guide that helps individuals and organizations not just become more productive, but more effective through a decision classification that helps break down tasks using the parameters or filters of Important and Urgent. 

Download Guide

And finally, the webinar included a super helpful breakdown of four following ways we can all take a best-practice approach to own our success in this new workplace normal:

  1. Tune into your feelings
  2. Get clear on your limits and priorities
  3. Be direct in communicating your limits
  4. Seek support and start small

About Propel Her 

In 2017, three women founded our first gender diversity initiative, Propel Her. The mission of Propel Her is to help women and non-binary folks increase their presence, influence, and professional partnerships in their communities and workplaces. Through its events and partnerships, Propel Her aims to provide guidance and tools that support gender-diverse leaders, including mentorship, negotiations, conflict resolution, and leadership. 

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