Women can do anything — but not everything. As the largest online career community for women, we at Fairygodboss realize that balance is a myth, and that picking what to prioritize on a day-to-day basis isn't always easy. In the #MakingTime series, women share with us how, for one day, they chose to spend their most precious resource: time.
Who: Dr. Lucinda Jackson
What: Today the author of "Just a Girl: Growing Up Female and Ambitious," Dr. Jackson began her career as a scientist before becoming an executive at a top oil and gas company and, later, a Peace Corps volunteer and activist.
Where: Greater San Francisco area
I’m up to take an international conference call in my pajamas. Luckily, it stays on time and only goes an hour, so I rush off the phone and start waking up my three boys. Thankfully my husband is here today since he’s going into his office later than usual— often his two-hour commute requires him to be gone by now.
We make sure everyone is dressed and all school projects and homework are sitting by the door, as we grab the lunches that he and I packed the night before and head for our cars. This year each boy is at a different public school due to their ages, so my husband takes two of them and I take one for drop-offs. We are grateful for the healthy breakfast programs at their schools.
Everyone is dropped off and I’m commuting to work, listening to rock and roll on the radio and singing loudly — a great release! I turn it off after about 20 minutes and start going over my day, what I’m going to say in a meeting and practicing the presentation I have that day.
I head into my office building on the corporate campus, stopping off at my assistant’s office to see how the schedule looks for the day. She tells me my 8 a.m. meeting is already in my office and my 9 a.m. has been moved up to 8:30. Also, one of my direct reports would like five minutes with me sometime during the day and can I squeeze in an employee with a career issue? A new meeting has been scheduled for 5 p.m., will that work? I quickly go through my head that I can call a friend to pick up the boys and be out in time to cheer on my oldest son at his swim meet tonight. Plus, I have to work at the meet, so I can’t be late. I tell my assistant okay, writing myself a note to call my husband and my friend about the new schedule.
I meet with the person in my office and our meeting runs until 8:30 when three colleagues show up for the new 8:30 meeting. That ends early, so I make a quick call to my boss to tell him about a big win my team had last week. I have a meeting until 12 p.m. across campus, so I quickly make the 10-minute walk and arrive on time. We negotiate, strategize, and plan about the environmental, safety, and health issues in the company. I’m hoping we end at noon so I can attend my yoga class.
Yay! I make it to the gym, tear off my business clothes, and tug into my yoga clothes. I have this hour firmly on my schedule each day, but it’s still hit and miss. I’m relieved to be here and relish the time to stretch and meditate. Ohm...
I grab a sandwich at the cafeteria on my way back from the gym to my office. I eat with the phone on mute for a 1 p.m. conference call — luckily, it’s not a video con. My direct report and employee are worked in before the presentation I’m giving to a large group of employees at 3 p.m. The presentation goes well, and I confirmed that my friend can pick up the kids and my husband will be home to make dinner, so we are good on that front. I finish up emails and make a few quick phone calls to my sister and best friend to tell them I’ll see them this weekend for a hike and lunch.
The new 5 p.m. meeting only goes half an hour, so I have a few minutes to regroup at the day’s end. Back in my office, I go over my checklist that I’d made the night before to see what was successfully accomplished. I check off the “Must Do Today” list first, then move anything I missed to the following day. I look over my longer-range goals to make sure there is progress on those. When I have a final list for tomorrow, I pack up my briefcase with some items I’ll finish up at home.
I’m at my son’s swim meet. He’s happy to see me, so I’m very glad I made him a priority. I’m the stroke and turn judge, so must pay attention but the good part of the job is that I’m right at the edge of the pool so I can see his backstroke race.
We head home from the meet to greet my husband and two younger boys who are already at the table. My husband has cooked a great meal, and everyone chats and eats and talks about the day. We all clean up and clear off the dining table for the kids to finish up their homework. One needs some help with math, so my husband takes that gig and I help another child with a science report.
I supervise baths, teeth brushing, and tuck ins for the younger boys while my husband helps our older son with additional homework. They are finally done at 10 p.m. and my son heads to bed.
I spend an hour finishing up company work and plan for the next day. My husband and I convene to go over the schedule and give ourselves assignments on who’s going to do what. I decide to attend the school play the next evening and he’ll go to the two soccer games that start at 5 p.m. We ask about each other’s work and emotional states, listening and helping each other with any problems. We sigh, ready to relax, then remember we haven’t packed lunches. Ugh! With our last bit of strength, we make sure each of our boys has a decent meal for lunchtime tomorrow.
We fall into bed, hold each other tightly, and whisper, “I love you so much. I couldn’t do this without you. Thank you for our wonderful boys and for being in my life.”
Interested in contributing to Fairygodboss' #MakingTime series? Email [email protected] with "#MakingTime" in the subject line.