9 Time Zappers Resolved!

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So I have been back to work for about a month from maternity leave and wow I have been enlightened about how difficult it is to balance work and a family- I am hearing the ‘I told you so’! I feel like for centuries I have been advising on family friendly stuff (I am a ‘mature mum’) but as some of you told me when I was pregnant, nothing quite prepares you for what is about to come next.

 

So I have been back to work for about a month from maternity leave and wow I have been enlightened about how difficult it is to balance work and a family- I am hearing the ‘I told you so’! I feel like for centuries I have been advising on family friendly stuff (I am a ‘mature mum’) but as some of you told me when I was pregnant, nothing quite prepares you for what is about to come next.

Just when I thought I had it sorted…the world of work threw everything I’d learnt on its head!  On the one hand the guilt of leaving my beautiful boy engulfed me and on the other, the guilt and drive I feel to fit a full time job into 3 days is equally as consuming (and I am not succeeding on that one).

This weekend was a time to take action so I went to my trusted guide, Managing your Mind: The Mental Fitness Guide by Gillian Butler and Tony Hope and found a little gem I thought I’d share on time management which is a little less dry than the usual stuff.  Here are the book’s top tips in 9 easy steps:

1)      Use your starter motor

Like an old car, you’ll run like a dream once you get going but it is the getting going that is the problem so tip 1 is get down to work quickly and don’t procrastinate between getting work done and enjoying leisure otherwise you will get neither.

2)      Make routine your servant

Routine is either your servant or your master.  It should never control what you do but allow you to do things better to release time and energy.  Do something leisurely after breakfast (mine is practising Spanish for 30 minutes)- the more habit forming it becomes , the less it feels like a chore and the more you will feel a sense of accomplishment.

3)      Every ‘yes’ is a ‘no’ to someone else

My favourite! too many yes(s) strips us off our ability to prioritise what we need because we put others’ needs before our own – always think ‘ if I say yes to this, what important things I am doing have to give?  Make sure it is really thinking about the benefits though in the process , otherwise you might miss out on a dream opportunity. Assertiveness is a key skill here!

4)      Distant Elephants

Don’t think that if something is in the longer term that saying yes is the easy way not to be assertive.  If you really should be saying no, it will become a distant elephant i.e. it will seem small at first but as the time gets closer , you’ll have a big thing to deal with!  Don’t commit yourself to unimportant things no matter how far away they are.

5)      Salami slice

Make large tasks manageable by breaking them into small chunks, thus not risking starting and stopping or not starting at all.

 6)      The curse of perfectionism

The bane of my life!  There is a point when the extra effort is not bringing extra value. Know that point and force yourself to halt and focus elsewhere.

7)      The one past the desk rule

Don’t put things to one side without allocating a time when you will deal with them…otherwise they will gather dust.  Either deal with them there and then or commit to a time when you will revisit.

8)      Appointments need to end as well as start

Be on time! The time you put in your outlook should be the time you start and work to the time you plan to finish. Practise self control and discipline rather than saying this is too hard. Ok you can’t control other people but if your team or peers are particularly bad at this…make it a project or challenge, otherwise you’ll end up putting things off for another day. Effective chairing is key here.

9)      Make time to plan

How you organise yourself and your team is important so make sure you allocate time to this activity as well.

Finally ( I can’t have an odd number)…  I am going to add a number 10

10)  Get outside and feel the fresh air

 Ensure you get outside and be mindful.  Pressure can turn to stress and stress hampers productivity. Keep it in check.

Have a wonderful, productive and stress free day!

Article by Michelle Harte – Head of HR, West Midlands Employers

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