Working mothers face daily the tough challenge of finding work-life balance. Each day seems to be filled with endless to-do lists because we have numerous responsibilities in a fast-paced world. It’s extremely easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed. We lose focus on what’s really important in life, and achieving work-life balance seems to be as elusive as a faraway dream.
Is work-life balance then a myth? How does a career woman who has a family keep her sanity in today’s insanely demanding and hectic world?
Defining Work-Life Balance Work-life balance is all about getting the value from the hours we have. There is no such thing as an equal balance; thus, we should not aim to spend an equal number of hours in both areas of our life. Some people would aptly refer to it as work-life satisfaction because it’s the achievement of one’s goals and dreams, of feeling purposeful and fulfilled. Thus, you will see moms staying long hours at work because they have a job that they enjoy and want to teach their children the value of work. You will see moms giving up a career to stay at home with the kids because their priority is to be 100% hands-on in child rearing.
Create a Life Vision Companies have a vision to provide direction - so should we in our personal lives. It’s first important to know where we want to go and how we want our lives to be like. My personal definition of work-life satisfaction will be different from anyone else because this will be based on what’s important to me, what I want to achieve and the values and principles I believe in.
“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.” - ZigZiglar
Your Strategy: The Seven P’s
1. Plan Once you have your life vision, it’s easy to make goals in each area of your life. The activities you decide to be involved in will be based on your life vision. If something is important to you, you need to schedule it to ensure it gets done. Writing it down in a planner is important because a planner helps you remember what you need to do and scheduling helps avoid conflicts caused by overlapping activities. Schedule your stress busters as well and don’t forget to allow for spontaneity and fun activities! Read on for the 7 P's to achieving that balance.
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“Either you run the day or the day runs you.” - Jim Rohn
2. Prioritize As you schedule your to do’s in your planner, you need to go through a sorting process to prioritize what you need to work on first. Categorize your activities and determine what are urgent and important. Do these things first. What needs to be done urgently may not necessarily be important and these are activities that can be delegated. Minimize or eliminate the time wasters, such as watching too much TV or gossiping. As you go through your activities, you can also choose to do the easy ones first to get the momentum going. Determining where you spend your time on first will also be based on your life vision.
“You can have it all. You just can’t have it all at once.” - Oprah Winfrey
3. Pockets of Time Making a list of things to do is easy. Finding the time to do the things on your list is hard. How do some moms manage to do everything? They juggle work, family, hobbies and volunteering in their communities with grace and ease. Their secret? Finding pockets of free time in each day. Tidying the coat closet for five minutes before hurrying the kids off to school, sorting and folding fresh laundry half an hour after coming home from work and chatting with hubby over a glass of wine after the kids fall asleep are some examples. If you consciously look for the free time in your day, you can gradually check off some of the tasks in your list.
“Time lost is never found again.” - Benjamin Franklin
4. Pay Attention You’ve found the time to do the things you want to do - it’s now time to focus on the task at hand. We often fail at this because our mind tends to wander. Unleashing the power of now enables us to focus and get things done more quickly. We also need to remember to focus on people. We live in a decade of distractions and it’s not a common thing to visit a restaurant and see a table where all the occupants are bent down and engaging in social media rather than speaking to each other. But truly paying attention and listening to people is a simple but effective way to enhance relationships. Give it a try and focus.
“The first rule of focus is this: Wherever you are, be there.” - Unknown
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5. Partner We are not superheroes. We are not perfect. Thus, we cannot do everything on our own! Yet we often strive for perfection and are often too hard on ourselves. Banish the guilt and embrace the fact that it is truly necessary to ask help. Partner with the people around you to get things done so you can focus on the truly essential activities that require your personal touch and attention.
“It takes a village to raise a child.” - African Proverb