Name: Melody Manning
Job Title: Attorney
City: Tampa, Florida
Number of Children/Other Dependents: 0
Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated? Why?
I don’t think the idea is overrated – who doesn’t want “it all?” That being said, I don’t believe that it is realistic. By the time you subtract from your day the hours we’re at work, asleep, commuting, getting ready for work/getting ready for bed, etc., there are only 3-4 hours left in the day for exercise, chores, down-time, and spending time with loved ones – and when you’re successful at what you do – it is very difficult to “turn work off” during those 3-4 hours. Lastly, for those who struggle with health issues, adding the time/burden of frequent doctor’s appointments and “bad days” on top of the work-week depletes that 4 hours left in a day.
What does having “it all” mean to you?
Not having the feeling that “I wish I had more time so that I could [fill in the blank]”
What is the best advice you have ever received on balancing your personal and professional lives?
I was told when I was a young associate how important it is to take your days off, take your vacation – or else you will burn out and be miserable. It’s very true.
If you had an extra hour in your day, how would you spend it?
Split between exercise and more sleep!
Looking back at when you started in the profession, and knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your younger self?
I wish I had taken more time for self-development, more CLEs, and more reading of journals, etc. when I was young and less was expected of me (and I had more time!).
Do you deal with guilt in trying to balance your personal and professional lives?
Fortunately, I do not. But I am also very blessed to work at a firm where that balance is important to everyone.
What single change do you believe would have the biggest impact on work life balance or quality of life?
I believe the flexibility to work sometimes from home would make a great help.
What part of “balance” are you improving at?
In the past year, I really made it a point to “get organized” in both my work and personal life – and I feel like my time management has improved immensely.
How important is civic and/or professional involvement to you and why?
It is important because this profession is a noble professional. That being said, it was this year when I made the decision to cut out “extra-curricular” activities from my schedule because I was becoming exhausted and taking these off my plate was a great relief.
What’s the advice you would give a young lawyer seeking to strike a “balance” between family, self, and the practice of law or achieve better quality of life?
Absolutely do NOT feel guilty for taking vacation, attending your children’s activities, or taking time for yourself!! Your work product will only be improved when you are rejuvenated and at your best. Also, take the time to cultivate relationships with your bosses and co-workers outside of work – you spend so much time at the office, they really are your second family.
Any other parting words of advice?
If you have a chronic illness, be open with your bosses about how it affects you – especially if it is one that most people don’t understand. When you can’t help your health, and you know you’re going to have days where you just can’t make it to the office, it’s best your employer understand why that is and what you feel like, so that they trust you and that you will make that time up once you’re feeling back to normal! Never feel guilty or ashamed about things you can’t control!