I’m excited to bring you a guest post today!
Suzanne Brown is a strategic marketing and business consultant and work-life balance speaker, strategist, and bestselling author on Amazon. She empowers working moms to create the balance they crave with small changes that make a big impact over time. Check out www.mompowerment.com to watch her TED talk, read more about her books, and read her weekly blog about topics related to work-life balance such as productivity, time management, and being intentional with your time. She lives in Austin, TX with her husband and two young boys. You can find her latest book on work-life balance for working moms on Amazon.
I have heard work-life balance is a myth, but I don’t agree.
What is a myth is trying to evenly divide your time on a daily basis.
You might have days when you get that 50/50 split, but they will be rare. And on the many days you don’t get it, you’ll likely feel disappointed and unnecessary pressure.
Who wants to feel like they fail on a daily basis?
So, what is a more realistic approach? What is doable when it comes to work-life balance?
Two mindset shifts can help make things easier (sorry, nothing makes things truly easy) when you’re trying to create more work-life balance as a working mom.
1. Think of work-life balance over the long-term.
Consider how you balance your time over a week, month, quarter, or even the year. This approach can take some of the pressure off and maybe even help with mommy guilt.
What does it look like?
Maybe you work like crazy during the week, so that your weekends are all about family. Perhaps one morning a week you head to work later than usual so that you can volunteer in the library for your child’s class. You could look into working from home one day a week so that you don’t have commute time and get started and end earlier.
There is no one way, so see what works over the long term for you and your needs.
2. Consider that each side of your life doesn’t have equal value.
An hour of time with your family and an hour of work time aren’t necessarily equal. Only you can decide how much of each kind of time balances out the other kinds of time (e.g., family, work, time with friends, passion project, etc.). And don’t let others’ assessment of value change your value formula.
You’ve probably noticed that I’m not offering up a formula or a specific approach that makes things easier.
It’s really based on your needs and your situation.
What works for your sister, best friend, or neighbor might not work for you and vice versa. That is not a bad thing. It’s actually a great thing.
You get to decide.
And it takes away the need to compare.
You’re talking to others to get ideas, but you can take what you want or adjust the ideas to fit your needs. Leave the rest of the advice and ideas behind. You get to make balance what you want and when you want it. It’s actually quite freeing when you think about it.
When it comes to being better about work-life balance, there are a few areas that can really make a difference in becoming more efficient with your time.
Consider how you work.
Many professional working moms I interviewed use batching or time blocking, where you work on like things together (e.g., email, writing blogs, doing research for projects, etc.). An alternative to this, especially if you have a choppier day, is the Pomodoro technique. You work for 25 minutes and then rest for 5. I highly suggest you maximize both kinds of time in this case. For example, if you work from home, use the 5-minute pockets to unload the dishwasher. Two sets of 5-minute windows and you’re done.
Create and maintain boundaries.
Let’s face it. Technology is a great enabler for making things happen at work, but it can also blur boundaries. You want to have time away from work each night so that you have time to recharge. One key element to this is to define emergencies and have everyone on your team, including your clients and suppliers, agree. You can also agree with your family about personal emergencies, so they know when it’s OK to interrupt work time.
Boundaries can also help you divide your time because they aren’t only between work and life. They can help you create buckets of time on your calendar to get things done. Essentially, these boundaries can help you divide up your day so that you’re efficient with your time.
Take time for self-care.
Who hasn’t heard the comment about putting on your own oxygen mask first. Let’s face it, though, most working moms ignore that advice regularly. Self-care really is important, though. It’s not selfish. And think about what a better mom, wife, employee, friend, etc. you’ll be if you take time to regularly fill your cup.
I’ll leave you with a final thought.
You have the power to create the work-life balance you want.
You might not have ideas, but that is where your tribe comes in. All those moms who love and support you, they have loads of ideas and things that work in their lives. They might work in your life or you might need to adjust them a bit so they work better with your needs. Start talking about solutions and things that work. Ask them about challenges you’re having, so that you can get an outside opinion. Support your fellow working moms and ask for support. We can do this individually, but we can definitely do it better (and maybe faster) when we are all supporting each other.