When you're seeking success in a demanding profession, can you still make family and personal time a priority? Attorney Demetra Liggins would say yes, but it doesn't come easily.
A Busy Professional Woman's “Secrets” to Balancing Work, Family, and Personal Time?
Demetra Liggins is an attorney, managing a busy professional life with many commitments. One of the most active and proactive women I know, her attitude and accomplishments are admirable.
A partner at a large law firm, she travels a great deal, spending her time among the firm's offices in New York, Dallas, Austin, and Houston, so making sure she can meet her professional commitments and still maintain her family and personal time is essential for Demetra.
Demetra’s typical day
In her best-case scenario, she heads to the gym before starting her day. She’ll check her email and go to the office from 8:30-6:30. Once or twice a week, she has a time commitments in the evening, and she’ll get home around 9:30 or 10 those nights.
She’s close to her family, including a twin sister, brother, twin nephews, and her parents. Even though she isn’t married or a mother yet, she reminds others that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a family.
Demetra is a “cheerful giver” anyway, so since she doesn’t have a husband or children, she has a hard time saying no when someone asks for help. Although great at time management and productivity at work, if she thinks she can do something for someone else, she does, even if it means getting only two or three hours of sleep.
I need to work on that and make myself as big of a priority as I make other people.”
She takes a cue from her male professional counterparts by learning to say no without explanation. An explanation just gives people a chance to evaluate the quality of your “no” and can be perceived as an opening to help you get to “yes.”
I’ve talked about saying “No” gracefully before–it's a challenge for many women.
“No” is a complete sentence.
We, as women, know the stereotypes and hurdles facing those juggling careers and family. We may be afraid of being perceived as being less committed to our careers. So we have to adjust.
- Stop apologizing for everything.
- Learn to take a compliment
- Take note of how our male counterparts say no
Productivity tools Demetra uses
Traveling makes carrying around papers and notebooks difficult. Demetra tries to be as paperless as possible, using apps on her phone. Her favorites include the task management app Things and color-coding her Outlook calendar to see what kind of day to expect or where she has to be.
Using services to make time for her family and herself
Traveling during the week used to mean Demetra would spend her weekends cleaning and running errands. One day while on her hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor, she realized this wasn’t how she wanted to spend her free time.
Some of the tools she uses are:
- Amazon Subscribe and Save for things like deodorant, paper towels and bottled water.
- Instacart for perishables and groceries.
- An assistant service to pick up dry cleaning and run errands.
- A cleaning service one every two weeks.
Although not for everyone, Demetra enjoys the time these services give back to her. Her Saturdays are now filled with golf, seeing friends and family, or just relaxing watching Netflix with a glass of wine. She encourages women to resist the idea that “I ought to be able to do this myself instead of paying somebody else to do it.”
Time is finite. There is no more of that you can get. I can get more money.”
Getting back on track
On days that are stressful and time seems to go too fast, Demetra relies on her faith. She keeps a Bible in her office and she will shut the door and search for a scripture for whatever is making her anxious. She finds it helpful to get on her knees and say a prayer.
It reminds me whatever is stressing me out, I’m not saving lives, it’s not world peace, it’s all fine.”
She used to constantly have her phone on her to keep up with emails and her connections until reading an article about women in the White House “unplugging” when they went to the gym or when going to bed. She realized these women are running the world, yet they unplugged for an hour. She grew up listening to her mother’s adage, “It’ll keep,” meaning whatever we think is pressing can usually wait.
What’s on the horizon?
With her twin sister, a bank executive, she wants to reach out to women and people of color who are disenfranchised within corporate America. These minorities don’t always know the rules or have a tribe, and Demetra and her sister want to use their combined experiences to offer them a “homie” — someone who could tell them how to be successful. This led Demetra and her sister to develop the idea of The Corporate Homie. They're hoping to launch The Corporate Homie in early 2016.
Final thoughts from Demetra
Your life does matter and you can pull it all together, one bite at a time. Instead of writing a To-Do List, write a To-Done List. Focus on what you actually accomplished instead of worrying about what you didn’t do.
Demetra Liggins is a partner at the Texas-based law firm of Thompson & Knight LLP. Demetra has over a decade of experience in business finance and restructurings for a variety of large and small public and private companies. She helps navigate her clients through complex corporate reorganization and distressed acquisitions. She works on both in-court and out-of-court restructurings. Demetra is highly regarded for her ability to quickly and efficiently help clients assess the effects of a bankruptcy on their corporate and financial transactions. She is a trusted business partner who works with her clients to identify and achieve their goals in the bankruptcy process. Learn more about Demetra's distinguished law career on her firm's website.
Connect with Demetra
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Announcements and Reminders
- There will be no new episode next week as I celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with my family. I wish you and your family joy and I hope you spend a little time reflecting on what you’re thankful for. I'd like to express my gratitude to:
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