Marissa Mayer On Work, Motherhood And Prioritizing

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As a new mother and relatively new CEO of Yahoo!, Marissa Mayer knows a thing or two about the work-life juggle.

At the 2013 Dreamforce conference in San Francisco this week, she sat down with Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, who asked her how she manages to “do it all” – family, work and community involvement.

“I’m glad it looks like that,” Mayer laughed.

But the real secret to juggling it all, she said, is “to be clear about your priorities.”

As a native of Wisconsin, she evoked the words of legendary Green Bay Packers Coach Vince Lombardi, who once said “My priorities are God, family and the Green Bay Packers, in that order.”

“Except I’m not that religious,” added Mayer, “so for me it’s really family and Yahoo! Everything else is icing on the cake.”

When it comes to the never-ending to-do list, Mayer said that she’s learned to “embrace” the fact that she will never get to the bottom of the list, and that the items at the bottom probably aren’t worth spending time on anyway.

As a mother of four who’s trying to “do it all,” Mayer’s words came as a great comfort to me. I don’t have to get to the bottom of my to-do list? Phew!

Being a mom has taught me the importance of prioritization.  Don’t get me wrong. I could prioritize pretty well before kids. But before having kids, I was more likely to accept someone else’s definition of “priority:”  “You need to work all weekend on this project.”  “Good moms don’t miss any of their kids’ activities.”  “You can have it all if you just work harder.”

Since becoming a mom, I’ve learned for myself what to put at the top of my to-do list. Like Mayer, my family comes first. Does that mean I make all of my kids’ events? Heck no. But I do my best to be there for them and to show them how important they are to me.

But I also prioritize things that bring me fulfillment– things like writing, hiking, spending time with friends, and a weekly “date night” with my husband. These, to me, are not merely “icing on the cake.” These are important parts of who I am. They are my priorities– and the reason that I will never be the CEO of Yahoo!

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