ORIGIN: Starting the Conversation

Walking the Line…

07.16.13 by Darcey Schumacher
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Some people say “yes” to every opportunity and others pessimistically think it can’t be done. I used to be the person who said yes and stressed out about getting it all done…until I said no for the first time. I won’t ever forget that first time. A fellow board member and someone I admire within the professional design community told me, “You have to say no once and awhile so that you have time to do what you can to the best of your ability. You aren’t helping anyone when you spread yourself too thin.” So, that day I said no, and the weight lifted off my shoulders. I felt a renewed energy to go after those things I am most passionate about – in my work, professional organizations and at home. That said, saying yes is the only way new doors open and opportunities present themselves, so in the spirit of work-life balance – say yes to all those things which you are most passionate about and do them well.

How to balance it all from the day-to-day? Clear expectations. Whether it is communicating with your boss that you will work a solid 8-to-5 and give 100% while you are there, or communicating to your partner that your work and professional organizations will need to come first during the week night, you have to be clear regarding your priorities. By being clear, you can then understand how best to ask for or provide support to others. Being someone who has recently hatched a short person, it has become increasingly more important for me to work with my spouse on what my time necessities are and how I need to also help him. We set our schedules in advance. We make sure that he has his time after work certain days of the week and I have mine. Many of my working mom friends have done the same and it works for them, too.

One of my favorite work-life balance suggestions came from a friend who has her own architectural practice. She works crazy mad hours but always, always takes time to make a homemade meal every night of the week. For her, it’s in-home therapy to have a few hours everyday set aside from client demands or contractor phone calls. I enjoy gourmet cooking only occasionally, so my personal therapy usually includes a long bike ride with the girls on Saturday morning, a 5:30am fitness class or a happy hour with friends. It’s so important to find those things which can help “recharge your batteries,” allowing you to push through the grind of everyday obligations.

Overall, I think it’s key to understand yourself, and how your needs/wants relate to your work and off-the-clock obligations. Needs/wants will always change or evolve with time, but if you pursue those things you are most passionate about to the best of your ability, you won’t be letting anyone down, most of all yourself. But…if all else fails and the stress just won’t dissipate, get some exercise and follow it up with a beer.


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Darcey Schumacher, PE, LEED AP BD+C


Darcey received her Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Missouri University of Science and Technology and her Master of Science in Civil Engineering from…

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