Balancing work and family

September 1, 1999

Pharmaceutical Representative

Earn a good reputation on the job and at home.

I am not a pharmaceutical sales representative, but I am married to one. Almost a year ago, my better half decided to get out of a dead-end industrial sales position and follow her dream of being a pharmaceutical sales representative. I knew she would get a position because of her drive and energy, and eventually she did.

However, every silver lining has a cloud. For the first few months of her employment as a pharmaceutical rep, our relationship was lacking many things – most importantly her. As all reps and their loved ones know, pharmaceutical sales requires a tremendous amount of time and energy, leaving little of either for family.

Until we could get things in order in our house, we had a rough time. For my successful sales rep, there was time for work and time for sleep. I was so frustrated that I seriously considered applying for a sales position in the same district just so we could spend time together at the regional meetings. When I really had too much time to myself, I thought I should just go to medical school and then open a practice in her territory. I knew this would at least get me a lunch.

But ours is a happy story. It really was not that difficult to work out. It just took some time and effort from both of us. There were three important ways we kept our home fires burning: time management, communication and a sense of humor. These are important concepts and are worthwhile practices in all aspects of life, but in our situation they were lifesaving.

We found that we needed to spend a small amount of time each week - about 15 to 30 minutes - planning out some rather ordinary activities that under normal circumstances really did not take so much time and effort. For example, we would plan all of our dinners for the week, coordinating who would prepare them or pick them up, what time and where dinner would be . We also planned out food shopping, dry cleaning and housework. Planning ahead made our lives much easier, and fewer unknowns made life less stressful, so we had more energy to deal with situations that were beyond our control.

Keeping a family calendar also helped simplify our lives. Marking down appointments and events in one central location made keeping track of schedules much easier. It eliminated having duplicate plans or not knowing where someone was. The family calendar also helped us focus and communicate by allowing us to keep in tune with one another.

When things did not go as planned, we would use our most important tool – our sense of humor. We found we had to use this weapon quite often. Life seldom goes as planned even when you are making such a great effort to plan it. We really developed a sense of humor while I learned to cook, which took a lot of laughs and a lot of frozen pizza. Learning to laugh made us put life in perspective and taught us that if we had our health, each other and good opportunities in life, the rest could be worked out.

Through our entire adjustment period we learned that a little effort goes a long way. By planning ahead, communicating and laughing, we have made our lives less stressful and more conducive to positive and constructive results.

Pharmaceutical sales brought all these valuable lessons and opportunities to our house, and we are grateful. PR

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