Mastering the Juggling Act in the Circus of Life

Dow Chemical Co. executive offers tips on how to find a good work/life balance.

By Catherine T. "Katie" Hunt, Ph.D., Director of Innovation Sourcing and Sustainable Technologies, The Dow Chemical Co.

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Enlist Support. When I moved from process chemist in research to laboratory manager in the plant, I worked hard to bring value to my team. When I became a mom, not only was I entering a new stage of my life but my colleagues were faced with a new challenge: the office manager mom. By sharing with my team the new demands on my time, such as leaving to pickup my son at daycare, etc., we were able to work out flexible time schedules that accommodated everyone. This not only resulted in building a strong working relationship across our entire work group but also developed what I believe was the plant's first-ever telecommuting program (circa 1991). 

Set Your Boundaries. As my son likes to remind me, family time with the Blackberry is not family time. Most of us suffer from the habit of inviting work into our personal lives, and it's important to realize that this not only impacts our ability to de-stress so we can maintain our health, but it impacts the quality of the experiences we share with our family and friends. Supportive friends, family members and significant others serve as a team that can help you develop and maintain boundaries and balance. Ask them for help.

Check Your Balance. So what are you juggling? Take a piece of paper and create one ball for each sphere of your life and be sure to include one for yourself. Which responsibilities and activities fall within each circle? What circle is at the top of your juggling arc right now? Think about whether or not your current priorities are working for you. If not, what needs to change?

One of my favorite sayings sums it up best: Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Embrace it; live it.

 Katie Hunt, Dow Chemical Co. Credit: Peter Cutts Photography

Catherine T. "Katie" Hunt, Ph.D., is director, Innovation Sourcing and Sustainable Technologies, at The Dow Chemical Company and 2007 President of the American Chemical Society.  Here bimonthly column appears exclusively on Follow her on Twitter @KatieChemist

To hear more perspectives about women in chemistry – why they chose chemistry as a profession and how they balance a rewarding career with family life, tune in to "The Future of Women in Chemistry and Science," part of Dow's The Future We Create virtual conference series, at


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