Fairygodboss

Thomasa Gonzalez has worked remote at times throughout her career in IT. But in her role as a Data Architect at BNSF Logistics, she’s felt especially supported in the COVID-era switch to working from home once again. 

“BNSF has been great. They provided assistance to make sure we had what we needed to be successful in our day-to-day operations,” she said. “I’m grateful to be part of a company where team collaboration is outstanding.”

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Between the support from her employer and the tricks she’s learned from her past work-from-home experience, she’s finding the transition not only manageable, but an even more efficient way to achieve her work goals. That’s huge, because this mother of six values her time away from technology in order to achieve balance and avoid burn out. 

So, how does she manage a whirlwind job, mothering six children and finding time to dedicate to her love of outdoor photography? Recently, Gonzalez shared with us a breakdown of her day, her work-life balance tips and her best advice for working parents who are currently stationed at a home office. 

Tell me a bit about your current role. What are your priorities? 

I am responsible for designing, creating, deploying and managing the company’s many data needs. My current priority is data architecture and data management for Quest, a proprietary internal software.

Paint a picture of a typical day for me. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up and the last thing you do before you go to sleep?

6:00 a.m.: Start getting ready for my day (COFFEE, COFFEE, and more COFFEE).

7:30 a.m.: Check processes and emails.

8:15 a.m.: Daily standup meeting.

8:30 a.m.: Meetings, support and coding.

12:00 p.m.: Walk one mile and eat lunch.

1:00 p.m.: More meetings, more support and more coding.

5:00 p.m.: Planning for the next day, including work items that were not completed or need to be addressed, notes for the upcoming meetings, issues or bugs that need to be addressed and more.

6:30 p.m.: Check on our garden, exercise, prepare dinner, family dinnertime and clean the kitchen.

9:00 p.m.: Prepare for bed and maybe watch a show or movie.

What does “balance” mean to you, and in what ways do you feel like you’ve achieved it? 

I believe balance is fully applying yourself in all you do but also giving back to yourself. I have been a part of many successful implementations, but without giving back to yourself, you will lack the necessary balance and can burn out. 

Keeping this balance is an everyday struggle for me. Some days I have it and some days I don’t. I can easily work well into our family hours, so I have to put a lot of effort into keeping a work and life balance. I am happy to be part of a company that understands the importance of balance!

Attaining work-life balance can’t be done solo. What people, resources, and tools do you rely on to get it all done? 

My family and shutting off electronics! My mother will call me on her way home from work daily, which reminds me that it’s closing time. I am blessed to have these daily calls with her. 

My family also spends a lot of time outdoors which allows me to unplug. Evenings are spent in our garden or swimming. Weekends are spent at the lake or relaxing in the pool. We have a large family and dinner is our daily quality time!

How have you had to adjust your schedule during the COVID-19 crisis? 

Spending less time getting ready for a workday and no longer commuting has opened up a couple more hours a day to put towards my work goals.

What resources or support has your company offered you during the crisis? 

BNSF has been great. They provided assistance to make sure we had what we needed to be successful in our day-to-day operations. Our IT teams — such as infrastructure and support — have worked endlessly to make sure everyone has been able to work remotely. Everyone has been available and very responsive! Again, I’m grateful to be part of a company where team collaboration is outstanding. 

What has been the biggest challenge for you as you are navigating this ‘new normal’?

I’m missing weekly date nights with my husband, and my daughters and I miss shopping!

What advice do you have for other women who are working remotely with their children at home?

My husband and I have been remote employees for many years throughout our careers in IT. As a result, we have navigated this type of work while also raising six children. I highly recommend an environment that lets you separate work and home. You need a designated area that you and your family know is your workspace and that you are not “home” when you’re there. This area should never be a high traffic area such as the kitchen! It is very easy to lose track of time and the boundaries of work and home, and having this work area will help both you and your family. 

What is your favorite way to destress outside of work? 

I have several! I love gardening, outdoor photography, riding motorcycles, trips to the lake and just relaxing by the pool! 

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