As a working mother, making the most out of 24 hours in a day is critical and keeping all the different components of my life synchronised can be difficult.
Time is precious. We could all do with more hours in the day to be our most successful and productive selves, but that just isn’t possible. I don’t know anyone who isn’t overstretched and over-scheduled.
However, there are ways to have a successful career without jeopardising your home life, and these four techniques will will help you get more out of your day.
Set your own rules
Our bodies work in cycles and we all have times of the day that are more productive than others. Likewise, there are parts of our day that are are non-negotiable.
The key here is to understand what works best for you, your family, your employer or employees and adjusting your day accordingly. If you are lucky enough to have a firm that champions flexible working, arrange your hours to help you balance the elements of your life successfully.
With many office jobs, a lot of what we do each day can be completed at home or in the evening so there is no necessity to be tethered to a desk early in the morning or late at night.
For example, I organise my day around my daughter and carry out all the necessary things I need to get her ready for nursery, before heading to the office. On most days, I am also back at home for her bed-time routine.
It’s crucial to identify what is important to you and find ways to make your day work for you. I work five days per week but have quality time with my daughter everyday – that was my non-negotiable.
To this end, I usually work through lunch and sometimes in the evening once my daughter is in bed.
Work smarter, not harder
There is no substitute for efficiency. To get the most out of your working day, find ways to more effectively.
Group certain tasks together to be more productive. For example, only check emails a few times a day at scheduled intervals. This can help to focus your mind on the important tasks at hand without getting distracted.
Emails are not the only drain on your time. Lengthy conversations with colleagues, trips to the kettle or a quick visit on your social media sites sap your productivity. Reserve these activities for your lunch break or specified break times.
The same approach should also be employed if you’re working from home. I have a master list of all household tasks to be completed everyday pinned to the fridge door.
Thanks to this list my husband and I both know what needs to accomplished before we can relax, without racking our brains each day, or missing anything important. It also means we can maximise the time we have together in an evening.
Be selective with the events you attend
As a lawyer, networking is a crucial part of the job description. There is so much value in getting out of the office and interacting with other professionals, as you never know who might need your expertise in future.
However, networking and other events can take a lot of time out of your day and can keep you away from your family in the evening. Once you have picked key events to attend, get the most out of your time there by focusing on one or two individuals you want to meet.
From here, be sure to follow up that meeting within twenty-four hours in order to cement the relationship and make sure it was worth your time in the first place.
Don’t feel guilty for having a career…
…Or for choosing to go back to work. Guilt is a wasted emotion and your child will thank you for setting them the very best example.
Don’t feel guilty for asking for help either, be it from your partner, family or even an employee. It is impossible to do everything so don’t try, you’re setting yourself up to fail.
However, it is possible for women to have a top flight career and a great home life – it just takes some juggling. Choose your firm carefully, and if you’re not feeling supported at your current company, search for one where you will.
At Vardags we have created a culture that is constructive and considerate of working parents. The unbridled confidence that we have in our staff, each other and our services permeates the office and it’s infectious.
This doesn’t stop just because you decide to have a family. In such an environment, I am able to offer the very best service to my clients, but still have a full and rounded life at home and I encourage my staff to do the same.
It is possible, it isn’t hard but you need an employer who shares your desire for balance, and has true family values at its core.
About the author
Emma Gill is director and head of Manchester office at family law firm Vardags