The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

April 15, 2014

Balancing Act: The secret weapon behind work life balance

We all struggle for work life balance, but most of us don’t realize that sometimes the path toward achieving might be something so simple.

Some of the most successful people I know are sharing their secret weapon for remaining strong and finding balance.

One of them is Donna Shalala. By her own admission, Shalala is a workaholic. She is the president of University of Miami and has a resume that anyone would find impressive — accomplished scholar, teacher and administrator. Her jobs titles include a stint working for President Bill Clinton as secretary of health and human services. While Shalala doesn’t have kids, she does take care of her elderly mother and oversees thousands of employees. Last week, I was at a luncheon in which Shalala was asked about work life balance.

The secret weapon, she says, is a good night’s sleep. “The biggest mistakes I’ve made in my career happened because I was overtired,” she told more than 400 women at a lunch sponsored by The Commonwealth Institute South Florida.

Coincidentally, or maybe not, Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, also is on a campaign to advocate for a good night’s sleep. Her personal wake-up call came in the form of a broken cheekbone and a nasty gash over her eye — the result of a fall brought on by exhaustion and lack of sleep. She wondered, “Is this really what success feels like?”

Instead of bragging about our sleep deficits or how busy we are, Arianna urges us to shut our eyes and see the big picture: We can sleep our way to increased productivity and happiness — and smarter decision-making. The first step, she says, is getting 30 minutes more sleep a night.

So, there you go! Two powerful women are telling you that sleep is key to good decisions and our well being. If you’re giving up sleep to get more done, it’s time to change that habit. Arianna says sleep deprived women will learn the hard way the value of sleep as she did, especially when trying to see the big picture in business.

As someone who is guilty of giving up sleep, I’m going to change my habits. I hope you will, too.

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ABOUT THE WRITER

Cindy Krischer Goodman is CEO of BalanceGal LLC, a provider of news and advice on how to balance work and life. She can be reached at balancegal@gmail.com. Read her columns and blog at http://worklifebalancingact.com/.

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©2014 The Miami Herald

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