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Panelists share work-life balance secrets of success: “One bite at a time”

By Jill Parker Landsman

Acting on the commitment of the National Court Reporters Foundation and its leaders to help NCRA members with career opportunities and outreach, the recent Ask Me Anything ZoomUp: Work-Life Balance provided ways to do more in less time.

The January 30 free ZoomUp event was created by the NCRF Ask Me Anything Task Force to share tips from successful reporters about their time management practices as they juggle heavy workloads.

A sampling of panelist takeaways: Practicing suitable time management helps to reduce stress, squash procrastination, boost confidence, and secure a rewarding career with a deserved, great reputation. Those who are parents agreed that modeling that they are diligent workers is a positive. Each panelist shared tips about making her own workspace a comfortable, soothing, ergonomic, happy place. List-making was a tool shared by all. Having it all is never a goal, and tomorrow is always a new day.

Ask Me Anything work-Life Balance screenshot

The opening question was: How do you stay focused on boring transcripts? “I am a big proponent of chunking the time,” said panelist Allison Hall, RDR, CRR. “I do not look at it as though I have a 500-page transcript. It could be mindboggling and depressing, but if you look at it as if you have to do 50 pages, it is a lot more manageable.”

Refusing to let boredom be her headwind, panelist Jennifer Billstein-Miller, RMR, CRR, shared her secret: “I think about the money the whole time.”

Cindy Isaacsen, RPR, an official reporter and NCRA Vice President, presented the question about the age-old quandary for working parents and asked, “How do you balance children and work?”  Employing technology tools and others for assistance, Anna Mar-Lazo, RPR, said, “Ask for help. Both of my kids are in sports now. That could mean taking my laptop to games. I work in the car. A Google calendar really helps to stay organized. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!”

After, attendee and NCRF Trustee Early Langley, RMR, stated that her best time management tool is her scopist. Billstein-Miller endorsed that tip, saying that a scopist and proofreader are essential. “I need to be done with my job to help my daughter,” Billstein-Miller said. “I really don’t have anyone to help me with that. If I didn’t have a scopist, I couldn’t go to her cheerleading events and all the things that she does.”

When Isaacsen asked panelists about exercise, panelist Amy Doman, RMR, CRR, said, “I am a very early riser. I get up four hours before I have to be somewhere. I will do 30 minutes of exercise and play with the puppy. If I can shower, I will go take a run. Sometimes my exercise is [walking] up and down the hall.”

Attendee and NCRF Trustee Karen Tyler, RDR, CRR, CRC, shared her tip to stay focused when a trial is troubling. “You need to be mindful that words can be triggers for you. I am saying to myself ‘white noise.’  You are just writing the words. You are going to find yourselves in situations that are very personal to you. You cannot stop what is going on. You need to prepare yourselves. Just be able to be prepared for moments that are going to take your breath away. ‘White noise’ has become my mantra.”

Keeping work and one’s personal life apart does mean setting boundaries. Advised Hall: “It is so important to have a separation between work and your family life. I make a point of shutting down the computer and turning off office lights. It is important to have that time. We all understand deadlines. One point for procrastinators, set a timer and work on it for 15 minutes when you do not want to. The art of starting a task is what is the most off-putting.”

You can hear all time management tips and tools on the full ZoomUp video. In addition to Isaacsen, the NCRF Ask Me Anything Task Force includes AMA Task Force Co-Chair and NCRF Chair-elect Meredith Bonn, RPR, CRR; Early Langley, RMR; Rich Germosen, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CCR; Sandy Narup, RPR; and Marjorie Peters, FAPR, RMR.

Future 2024 Ask Me Anything ZoomUps will be on these dates at 8 p.m. Eastern:

  • Tues., February 27, The Power of Networking – Registration open now.
  • Tues., March 26, Power of Practice
  • Tues., April 30, Getting Ready for Louisville