As opportunities for women increase we are given the impression that we can have it all. A great career, a wonderful partner and a family are all possible but at what cost to yourself? As your workload grows as fast as your responsibilities, you might find your work-life balance gets a little out of control. Time to put some strategies in place to ensure you get the most out of life and start living the life of your dreams. The following tips will help you do just that:
Excel in Time Management
This is easier said than done but ensuring you use your time well and work smart will help you cope with your workload. Addressing your emails at a certain time of day and only taking and returning calls at a set time allows you to get on with major work without interrupting. Be selective about the meetings you attend, always question, do you really need to be there? Can you send a junior team member in your place? Effective time management means you prioritise the most important tasks and deal with your workload productively and efficiently.
Are you a Night Owl or Early Bird?
We are all at our most productive at different times of the day. You might find you are at your best first thing in the morning or that your creativity awakens late in the afternoon so work to your strengths. If your eureka moments happen early then make sure you organise your day accordingly to capture your most dynamic hours. You will find you can achieve a great deal in a shorter period of time.
Take a Lunch Break
Too many of us work through lunch. Not taking a break may be something you do out of necessity or to impress your boss but don’t think it’s a productive way to work. It’s not something that happens very often in countries like Italy or France where two hour breaks are the norm. Regardless of how busy you are, walking in the fresh air and taking your lunch away from the screen not only clears your head, it wakes you up and makes you more alert. You will find you return to your desk feeling refreshed and ready to speed through your work.
Stop Checking Your Emails
One of the worst things about technology is we can access our emails at any time of the day on our mobile phones or tablets. You have to make a rule not to check emails after a certain time. Not only is it distracting but if you are relaxing in the evening and you see an email of importance then you will have work on your mind for the rest of the night. There’s also a strong chance you can’t address the issues raised until you get back into the office anyway so set yourself an email curfew and stick to it.
It’s possible to work anywhere at any time so if you commute by train everyday then see if your employer will agree to you counting that time as part of your working day. You could arrive later or leave earlier – either way you can take calls, email and work on projects whilst on the move which can free up valuable time to spend with your family.
Leave Work at Work
Regardless of how many mobile devices entice us to look at our emails, having work on our minds whilst not in the office is far too common. It can keep us awake at night and stop us from enjoying a movie with the family or a glass of wine with friends. Learn to shut off and if it takes meditation or a hot bath, find a way of unwinding and controlling your thoughts to remind yourself you deserve time off and work should stay at the office.
Make Time for Holidays
Getting away from it all is the best way to clear your head. Sometimes with deadlines and diaries filling, it appears there is never a good time to take a break but don’t let that stop you. If that’s the case then accept it’s just the nature of your job. Put a break in the diary and do your best to organise as much as you can in advance of your trip with the proviso that when you go, you let go and don’t think of work again until you walk back through the door. Regardless of how hard you work, an over-tired, burnt out employee is useless to their employer so take heed, book breaks and take them.
Getting help doesn’t mean you are failing, it’s common sense. If you’re too busy to do the cleaning, gardening or ironing then either get the family to help or hire a professional. Time spent with your children or elderly parents is precious so if you’re free time is stretched then ensure you spend it wisely. Juggling work and family is always going to be a difficult task, especially if you’re children are still young and your parents are starting to need a bit of help. You may find yourself worrying more about them, whether they are OK or need your help. This is where technology can help. You should consider a family GPS tracker that will help you keep an eye on the movements of your children and parents. You can track their movements on your mobile from your office and put your mind at rest.
Don’t be a Martyr
Don’t suffer in silence. Start a rota of tasks around the house that the whole family can do. Even if you’ve hired a cleaner your children can be set tasks of walking the dog, tidying their rooms and helping you prepare meals. As the old adage goes, many hands make light work and those precious extra hours saved can be spent relaxing in a lovely hot bath!
Give yourself a Break – Forget Perfection
Trying to be all things to all men is an impossible, thankless task so let go of that right now! Think about it, as you take your last breath will you be thinking about how wonderful it was to have the perfect tidy house, empty in-tray or inbox, clean windows or tiny ironing pile? I very much doubt it! Life is for living and the perfectionist within can destroy that concept! So beware. Think about what is important in life such as spending time with your family and release the need for perfection. You will be surprised how relaxed you begin to feel as you really start to live your ideal life!