The Times of London: Putting Business Before Showers

From The Times
February 12, 2008

Putting business before showers

Life coaching for overstretched mother and major oil company executive Linda
Fleming


Linda Fleming, 46, is a business consultant for a major oil company. She lives in Plymouth with her
husband David, a corporate systems manager, and their two children, Patrick, 18, and Caitlin, 11.
“My week is split between three days in London, and Monday and Friday working from at home. I also
frequently travel abroad.

“David is the primary carer at home and a saint. My parents also help out. We are a close family and I
would never want to move away from my roots.

“I have a fantastic life with a fulfilling career, but often feel overstretched. Sometimes, one of the children
will say: ‘Dad doesn’t do that like that’ and I’ll feel like a stranger in my own home.
“I want to be more engaged with family life, but am wary of swooping in and taking over when I come
home.”

Linda’s typical working day
7am If it’s an at-home day, this is the time I’ll be getting up. (If I’m travelling to London, I’ll have been up
at 5 to catch the 6 o’clock train and be in the office by 9.30.)
7.30am My husband brings me up a yoghurt and coffee, which I’ll have while sitting on the edge of the
bed and cranking up the laptop. E-mails flood in overnight. If there’s a problem in Singapore, say, I’ll be
straight on to it and probably remain in my pyjamas all morning. If it’s relatively calm, I’ll shower and get
dressed before working in my office.
8am Everyone else leaves the house.
12.30pm Stop for a quick sandwich and a laundry pitstop.
1pm Back to the laptop, and maybe a couple of conference calls. My days at home are hugely
productive, because there’s nobody stopping by my desk for a chat.
4.15pm Caitlin arrives home. She’ll put a crumpet in the toaster while I carry on working.
6pm David arrives home and I’ll move down to the kitchen to cook dinner and squeeze in some ironing.
7pm Patrick is normally home from college and we all eat together.
8pm I like to be in front of the telly with a glass of wine.
10.45pm Upstairs for Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime. Make sure my mobile and laptop are charged. If I’m in
London, I call David to say goodnight.

Ginger says . . .
After looking closely at her typical day, Linda was already reassessing her priorities. We talked about an
“aha” moment when she realised a work party was to clash with her daughter’s school concert. She
almost opted for the party until she discovered Caitlin was to be giving a solo flute recital. At the 11th
hour, Linda rushed home.

I asked: “What simple steps can you take to be more engaged with family life?” Linda said that she
received her work schedule and Caitlin’s school calendar at the beginning of each year but had never
synchronised them. She committed to doing that immediately.

Linda has been so dedicated to her work that she takes almost no breaks in her day when working from
home. I asked her why she doesn’t take a crumpet break with Caitlin when her daughter comes home
from school. Also, analysing her hectic schedule, I wondered aloud about why she isn’t taking time to take
care of herself during her days at home.

A few days later, Linda e-mailed me with details of significant changes. She’s showered and ready to face
the day before she opens her laptop. She will take breaks to spend time with Caitlin and together they
have started a “mum’s cooking school”, at which they will create something new each week for the family
to share.

If you want to be coached by Ginger, e-mail your details to: worklife@thetimes.co.uk

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