New York State Funeral Directors Association

Being a funeral director is, in my opinion, one of the more challenging, rewarding, time-consuming, unpredictable life-paths that one can take.

I have had the privilege of working with many seasoned professionals in the funeral industry and one thing I have taken notice of is the importance of a quality work-home balance.

I’m sure it comes as no surprise that many funeral directors have difficulty balancing their alternate lives to the point where relationships suffer and people get burned out.

Over the past few years, I have contemplated what qualities one must possess in order to balance the stress of being an on-call professional with the relaxation and amusement that many other people simply call life.

I feel that being a good funeral director requires that you satisfy your human needs as well as the needs of others, because without you, who is going to take care of them?

Make Your Home Space Homier and Work Space Workier

Studies have shown that the average person wastes about 4.3 hours each week searching for misplaced papers.

This does nothing but add stress to your work life and reduces your ability to concentrate on more important things, like operating a funeral home while simultaneously juggling the tasks of running a household.

When your work space is clean and bright you will be more productive.

Small updates to your area, as small as they may be, can make all the difference to your daily mood and progress.

Make Your Space, Your Space

Even for a neat-freak, that could mean getting yourself a sparkly new pair of bedazzled desk readers or a pink feather pen (with death certificate-approved black ink, of course).

Bringing a small amount of home into your work space can be beneficial to a certain extent, like a family photo or a child’s drawing.

Just a few items to remind you of the happiest parts of your life and brighten your mood.

For the most part, a clean, organized space with a few helpful accoutrements will keep spirits high and efficiency levels up.

Clear Clutter and Remove the Noise!

Keeping work things out of sight during your home time, especially if you often work from home, will assist in your business-to-pleasure transition and allow you to truly be home.

Use Post-it Notes!

At work, my monitor looks like this.Computer Monitor with Post-it Notes

Taking notes as the day goes on and crossing items off that list as you complete them is a great way to boost your sense of accomplishment and help you to push forward.

The method to my madness is to write items on Post-it notes as they are rattled off to me and to stick them around the perimeter of my computer monitor as reminders of tasks ahead.

A few different times during the day, I will re-stick my Post-it notes from top to bottom in order of priority.

Once I complete a task, that Post-it is gone.

If I must leave tasks undone for the next morning, a colorful, prioritized flow reminds me of all the work things that I conveniently removed from my mind the night before.

Each of them is right there for me to pick up where I left off without missing a beat.

I am able to fully enjoy my home time with all of my colorful Post-it notes adhered to my monitor rather than my mind.

Zen

Zen is a practice that focuses on awareness through meditation.

I am not telling you to bring your yoga mat to work, or to stand on your head when the feeling strikes.

Unfortunately, not all employers are pro-relaxation in the work place.

What I am telling you is to take everything on, one thing at a time. If at any point you feel overwhelmed, close your eyes and take a breather.

Halting productivity to regain your sanity will ultimately benefit not only you, but those around you.

Plan a Home-to-Work & Work-to-Home Transition

The home-to-work transition is often a standard, step-by-step procedure marked by morning rituals which you almost literally run through in your sleep.

For funeral professionals such as ourselves, this transition often occurs not only in the morning, but it can also happen noon or night.

Being prepared for the unexpected can save a lot of time and stress. Have some “on-call duds” ready and waiting in a predetermined location.

A preferable location would be one which is not inhabited by your sleeping spouse.

This will take you from point A to point B and back to point A again (point A being your bed) in a more timely fashion so that your body can return to its restful, sleeping state.

As much as I enjoy picking out an adorable outfit, 2:30 in the morning is hardly the time for decision making.

I’m sure I don’t even have to tell you that keeping a blank notepad and a pen on your nightstand to jot down vital information is also a great time-saving maneuver, making the infamous 2:30 a.m. pen-search a thing of the past.

Set Aside Some Time for You

I hate the term “significant other” almost as much as I hate the word “boyfriend” past the age of 19, but for lack of a better word, my boyfriend and I have been together for seven years.

To a lot of you, that’s just a drop in the bucket, but for me, that’s a quarter of my lifetime.

What is our secret you ask? This comes from a healthy work-home balance.

While he does not work in the funeral industry, he does own his own business and sometimes we may not see each other for more than an hour a day.

In order to combat time lost, we look forward to the future.

I am an organizer, a planner and an open communicator who is granted every other weekend to myself.

I purchase concert tickets, book wine tours, plan short weekend getaways to places we have never been and book massages to rejuvenate the body, mind and soul.

One fun, relaxing day can prepare me to take on the world for the next two weeks.

While we’re on the subject of the significant other, one of the biggest ways to injure any relationship is to unload work stress on your spouse.

This is why we make a valiant attempt to practice what we call the “buffer zone policy.”

When spouse number 2 finally gets home, no matter what time it is, it’s a quick welcome home with a smile and a smooch and then that person takes a 10-15 minute buffer zone period to overcome their work stress, work through all of their residual work thoughts and all-around just get comfortable.

Those all-important 10-15 minutes will renew and refresh their mood and allow the two of you to spend more quality time together rather than bickering over nonsense just because one party carried a bad mood home from work.

I admit, I tend to be a bit of a buffer zone invader, so making a conscious effort to enforce the policy on both parts is important.

I get overly excited about sharing my day and don’t allow for adequate decompression and this is extremely important in every relationship.

It’s the Little Things

Many of us tend to take for granted the fact that we are blessed with people in our lives who not only put up with our skewed schedules, but love us for what we do for others.

These people bring us back from work mode and remind us that we all need to put a little “fun” in the life of the funeral director when the time is right.

It’s the little things that you strive to fit into each day that will ultimately balance your scale.


HeatherRHeather A. Rauch
Heather is a NYS Licensed Funeral Director at V.J. Iocovozzi Funeral Home