A balancing act: Marianne Mallonee's story - Firstline
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A balancing act: Marianne Mallonee's story
Managing a healthy work-life balance is a topic that's near and dear to my heart, primarily because I struggle with it every day.

FIRSTLINE


Managing a healthy work-life balance is a topic that's near and dear to my heart, primarily because I struggle with it every day. I'm a single woman who is the hospital administrator and a senior shareholder of a large 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week general, specialty, referral, and emergency hospital in Colorado. I'm not in a relationship and I don't have children—and I marvel at how folks who do can find balance when I struggle with it and there's just little ol' me to be concerned with!

As I write this on a Wednesday night at home after work, I'll admit that I've checked my smartphone multiple times—for both work and personal emails or text messages—and I'm noticing how absolutely exhausted I am because I was at my hospital from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. yesterday. My cats are all vying for my attention—and some more food. I just remembered that I left some of my own dinner out on the stove that needs to be boxed up for lunch tomorrow, and I really should run upstairs to get a load of laundry started. I still need to go run 3 or 4 miles on the treadmill tonight—I'm training for the Colorado Half Marathon—and my plan was also to get one to two hours of studying time in tonight for my CVPM exam. And, darn, it just occurred to me that I meant to call the eye doctor today to order new contacts and I didn't make that happen. I'll just make a reminder right now in my calendar on my phone for tomorrow so I don't forget ... Oh my, of course, my schedule is booked solid (overbooked!) at work tomorrow, and I'm not sure when that phone call is going to happen ...

Does this sound familiar to anyone? The list goes on and on, making me often wonder, how in the world I'll get it all done? My smartphone is always available so I can add a reminder for myself or keep a priority list of the items that need to be done, but this also means that I'm infrequently unplugged. As a result, I feel the need to constantly be ready to respond to any of our team members or my business partners when they send me an email. And, it means that in addition to those personal to-do items that I'm wrestling with accomplishing in tonight's—or any night's—limited hours, I'm always thinking about or worrying about or dreaming about my practice, with little time for separation and that much needed goal of work-life balance.

For most of 2011, I was far, far away from attaining that goal, or anything close to resembling it. I wasn't exercising the way I wanted to or enjoying the beautiful Colorado mountains and outdoors or spending time with friends or keeping in touch with family the way I wanted to. And the list goes on of things that I wasn't accomplishing. Don't even ask when I last had a real date.

I love the veterinary field with a passion, but between my own hospital, my involvement in a managed solutions organization for specialty hospitals, and my multiple national lecturing commitments last year, I really pushed my limits. Thankfully I had a 12-day vacation to Costa Rica planned at the end of November. This vacation was a great way for me to reconnect with myself and the friends I travelled with. And it was a great reminder of how important vacations can be to recharge and refuel. I returned to my hospital rejuvenated, completely re-engaged in my practice, and committed to defining and improving my work-life balance heading into 2012.


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