When you have children, your life becomes all about the efficient use of time, squeezing productivity out of every minute. Time management is one of the top skills of the working parent and you will become experts, but how can you get even more efficiency out of your day?
Workingmums.co.uk has some tips gleaned from talking to lots of women who have climbed the career ladder:
What can’t you miss? What doesn’t matter so much? Once you are focused on what is important, everything else stems from that.
Learn to give yourself a bit of slack. No-one can do everything 100% all of the time. Celebrate your successes and, on bad weeks – we all have them – celebrate surviving.
Many go on too long so it is important to have an agenda and make sure it is stuck to. Be clear about which meetings matter most. Quick, one-issue conference calls or IM exchanges can be more effective and more focused on day to day issues.
If you are an early riser, you can get lots done if you start early when things are relatively calm. This may not be for you, though, if your brain doesn’t tend to wake up until later in the morning.
Some people prefer to check in at regular times in the day; others like to be totally on their email and to clear their inbox at night before going to sleep. They are also likely to favour clearing their inbox on a Sunday ahead of the week ahead. Psychologically it can free you up and mean you can enjoy the rest of the weekend without anticipating Monday the whole way through it.
That means everything from the big picture conversations about how you will manage work and family life before you actually have the baby to the micro details. These include, for home life, having a loose meal plan; scheduling in washing; getting clothes ready the night before; checking who is picking up who a week ahead; and flagging any upcoming events such as school plays, dental check-ups and parents evenings. The same goes for work: flag any major events in the months ahead; plan holiday cover, etc. The same skills of time management can be used at home and at work. Some couples use spreadsheets to plot the week ahead.
For example, check school bags regularly so you are not caught out by costume days and the like.
Give yourself something to look forward and some regular pit-stops to regather energy, even if it is just the odd long weekend or a duvet evening.
This can cut down on commuting time [although commutes, depending on whether you get a seat, can be used to catch up on reading, etc] and break the week up.
What tasks can be shared with your partner? Can the kids take over some responsibilities? Delegation at work can help others get valuable experience. If you can’t delegate home chores to immediate family or friends, can you outsource? That might include getting in a cleaner [or could you share with a neighbour or friend] if you can afford it.
You can save yourself some extra minutes. They all add up.