7 Lies You Must Tell to Balance Work and Family

by Leigh Anderson
Originally Published: 

A lot of men claim to work 80 hours. A lot of them are lying, according to the New York Times. A professor at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business conducted a study at a consulting firm that revealed that, within a work culture that emphasizes commitment and long hours, there were three groups of people: People who pulled the long hours and produced a lot, people who explicitly negotiated more family-friendly hours, and people (mostly men) who pretended they were members of the first group but were actually members of the second group. They worked out secret deals with co-workers who also had small kids to cover for one another; they only made work trips that were close to home. The first and third groups were rewarded in performance reviews; the second were punished. The takeaway? If you want a family-friendly schedule and you want to succeed at work, you’re going to have to dissemble a little. Below, seven whoppers to keep in your back pocket.

1. That client and I have a particularly good rapport. (That client is really close to my house. I can get there and back home by 5:30.)

2. Shoot, I’ve got another client meeting scheduled for Friday at 3. (I’ll be transporting the class turtle for its custodial weekend with us.)

3. Oh, I’m the lead on the project. (Jane is the lead, but she’s out with her sick kid and will cover for me when I’m out, so for now, I’m the damn lead. Whatever you do, don’t call Jane unless you want to hear the sounds of norovirus echoing off her bathroom walls.)

4. We’re aiming for 70% engagement by March. (I can get 80% but I want to look like a hero so no one knows I write emails with one hand and offer lettuce hunks to a turtle with the other.)

5. This is the kind of project that totally plays to Jesse’s strengths, don’t you think? (Jesse can fucking do it.)

6. Jack and I are going to do some big-picture strategizing at an off-site tomorrow—see you on Friday. Jack and I are not going to do jack shit. It’s teacher-development day and our kids are out of school.

7. I’m in the field. (Burying a dead turtle.)

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