Some quick tips to manage work and home

So you have family responsibilities or exciting interests you'd love to develop - and a busy and demanding professional role.

Does it sometimes get all too hard? Perhaps you've just had a long weekend or a good holiday and your heels drag reluctantly back to work. Have you ever wished the holiday could go on forever?

You arrive back at work, the boss says, 'Thank goodness you're back. I just can't manage without you' and you slip right back into the hectic schedule. Within a few days it's as if you'd never been away. You're happy to be needed but ... buried under the avalanche of 'busyness' is a nagging thought. Is this all there is to life?


Does this sound familiar?

Yes, life is exciting. Yes, life is lived in the fast lane these days. And - another yes - we can control more of our happenings than many people realise.

Few people take time to see clearly where they want to go in life. They hear the far off music but don't take the time to search for the source. If we have no goals, no clear path, we'll never know for sure whether we're driving down the right road.

A powerful goal has pulling power like you'll never believe. Here's one example.

Linda was a high-powered Executive Assistant job in the Australian advertising world. After some years she realised that the stressful life, although exciting, was not fulfilling her. Finally she stepped outside her fear of the unknown, developed a small part-business in an area of great interest, and handed in her notice to the high-stress job. She then looked for an interesting part-time job to give her financial security so that she could support her passion and lifestyle choice.

Within a week she stumbled across my ad for an assistant (I was living in Sydney at the time). My office was ten minutes' walk from her home and I only wanted someone for 25 hours a week, giving her time to develop her other business. Perfect solution for both parties.

But perhaps changing direction isn't your answer. Maybe you just want help to simplify your life.

What are you communicating to your colleagues?

• Do you ever politely but firmly say 'No' to last-minuting team members who consistently ask you to stay late at work when it will conflict with your other responsibilities? It might not be the career-limiting move you fear. People respect those who clearly communicate their expectations.

• Be clear about any regular outside commitments that require you to leave work at a set time when you first consider a job. Once you've started, if something new comes up, discuss it with your boss. Managers are not mind readers - communicate. Most of the time they'll be flexible if asked.

• Expect to be supported. It's amazing how often our expectations are met - positive or negative! (There's much more to it than this, but let's not make the article too long!)

On the home front:

• Hire a cleaner. Many people say 'I couldn't afford it.' How much do you spend on lunches and snacks right now? A couple of hours will usually only cost between $30-$45, you'll come home to a clean house and Saturday can be spent on life-enriching pursuits instead of embracing a broom and a toilet brush!

• Do a load of washing every day or so (frequency depends on the size of your family). Use a clothes horse and you'll not worry about weather or power costs.

• Do triple quantities of appropriate meals (e.g. meat loaves, lasagne) and put the spares in the freezer for the nights you're too tired to think, let alone cook.

• Put children on a household duty roster, including cooking duties. Even a five-year old can prepare vegetables and plan a simple meal.

• At both work and home develop a 'Do it NOW' attitude. If you touch something, keep going until it's in a final destination. Become a finisher - don't shuffle 'stuff' from place to place.

• Don't be a perfectionist. So there are dust curls under the beds? Who's looking? And will it matter in five years' time?

Have fun - and don't take life too seriously.