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Balance: Work and Family

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by newspaperman, May 10, 2011.

  1. newspaperman

    newspaperman Member

    I'll go out on a limb and say that some of you have a family (wife, kids, etc.). I've been reporting for over two years now and have yet to balance the work/home relationship -- especially at a shop with a one-man sports department. For those with a family, how have you dealt with it, or did one have to kick rocks?
  2. I'm really just posting here because I want to track this thread. I'm single and suspect I always will be because I'm not sure I can find a balance. If someone can tell me how to do it without leaving the job behind, I would love to find out the solution.
  3. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    I think one big thing is, when you're home, be present. Don't waste away the hours watching the NBA Playoffs (unless it's with Junior). Don't keep one eye on the little one and one eye on ESPN.com. Or your Blackberry. Home means home. Wife and I try to have all screens off in the house, except for the occasional "Dora: The Explorer," when there are little ones about. In any job, your time is going to be limited. Make sure you are using it efficiently.

    I think a lot of people would also tell you - and I'm one of them - that eventually it might be worth exploring a move to a day job, be it a news-side job or making a switch from something like MLB to something like college football or the NFL, although there is a reason that reporters like to keep a death grip on those beats.
  4. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    FWIW, I was single for about the first two years of my career. I was putting in those 70-hour work weeks, 30 of them off the clock. When my wife and I began dating, that had to stop. I still worked hard, but I had to construct some boundaries because I didn't want to lose her.

    Believe it or not, I think that was when my career took off, as well. I know it's counterintuitive, but I think a lot of people would tell you they had a similar experience.
  5. newspaperman

    newspaperman Member

    D. Whitman, the problem is being at a one-man shop (with no freelance or part-time help). There is no way to cut hours. If I don't get the job done -- the sports department suffers. A regular week sometimes takes 55-60 hours. I like sports reporting, but at what point do you just give it up for a less time-consuming job outside of journalism?
  6. Precious Roy

    Precious Roy Active Member

    I am going through another rough spot in my personal life because I'm trying to start a family but my wife and I work separate shifts. It's tough, but we are working through it because we need the income right now. You just need to create that balance, and I agree that when you are home you shouldn't be watching sports, and make sure that all the moments that you have with your family are with your family and not spent thinking of the job. It's harder than it sounds, but it makes a difference.
  7. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    I was never able to find a balance between a personal and work life. Work was my life, until it was taken away. I am, pretty much, out of the business now, at least for now.

    Those still in the business who find a balance do not so much do that as, probably, have an understanding spouse willing to, oftentimes, give in to the demands of their partner's job. Or, they are people in copy-editing/desk jobs with set hours. Or, they are the reporters with relatively short-season or minor beats. As someone else said, there is a reason people want the football and college beats, and there is a reason that people eventually seek to move to the desk.

    But, that's not the same as truly "finding a balance."

    I would imagine that, nowadays, it's even more impossible to find a balance, what with the demands for constant live blogs, tweets, videos, and web updates, too.

    I truly miss my last, best full-time sportswriting job, which I loved. But, I have to say, it is really nice not having to worry about any of that now, too.
  8. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    It's your problem if you care too much about the product that your home life suffers. The readers really don't care about the nice front page you did one day. The advertisers don't care, either. It's a sports section, not life or death. There's nothing wrong with putting in a hard day's or night's work, but you don't need to go beyond that.
  9. Oh well, if things can't work out, then that's life. It'd be nice if it does, but if not, I'm good with where I am.
  10. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    Right. What I'm saying is, when you aren't in the midst of those 55-60 hours - and a lot of people ambitious in their field work those hours, though I think that 55-60 hours should net six figures, at minimum - then be present at home. Don't let 60 hours become 60 hours officially and then the rest of the time all you are doing is thinking about work or vegging out.
  11. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    Don't get me started.
  12. doctorquant

    doctorquant Well-Known Member

    I'm going to go out on a limb here and tell you that, likely as not, a 55- to 60-hour workweek is not necessary for you to do your job. You strike me as fairly young -- a couple of years out of college? -- so I strongly suspect that many of those extra hours aren't value-adding in the least. Efficiency comes with experience, so as time goes by you'll probably get better at focusing on the must-be-dones and letting the might-be-dones fall as they may. As a first step along that way, I would suggest switching from an "infinite loading" to a "finite loading" mindset. In the former perspective, you say to yourself, "These are the things that have to be done this week," and then you work as many hours as needed to get those done. In the latter perspective, you say to yourself, "These are the hours I have available this week (and let's make it 40). Which tasks have to be done, which should be done, and which might be done?"

    With regard to a work-family balance (and assuming you're in your mid-20s), I think it's a terrible mistake to frame the discussion as a "How do I make this family thing work when I have to work so much or the paper will suffer?" kind of question. A more appropriate question is, "How do I ensure that this job doesn't let me short-change myself out of some of the most rewarding experiences of my life?"
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