Time management is difficult to accomplish in our every day lives. You live. You work. And you love your family. But where do you find the time? How can you keep sane when obligations threaten to overwhelm you?
Here are 9 tips to keep things sane while juggling your family and career.
1. Optimize your schedule
It is amazing how much time we waste. And often we are not even aware of it! but when you have to juggle family and career, meaningful use of time is your best friend.
Take just one week to note your real use of time – not the ‘official’ one. Write down how you really spend your time at work and at home. You will notice immediately that you have underused time resources, times when you are unfocused, repeat tasks unnecessarily, or waste time transitioning from one task to another.
Then, use the next week to optimize your time and use all these ‘waste pockets’ for things you really need or want to do.
In the third week, rewrite your schedule according to those changes.
Keep observing your use of time and adjust your schedule accordingly.
2. Be focused at work
A lot of time gets wasted at work.
The modern office is built around many ‘dead zones’ of time. Re-organize your administrative tasks, streamline your social interactions and prioritize informal chats with people you actually want to interact with.
Reorganize repetitive tasks and, if you can, organize your task list according to your personal strengths (i.e. whether you are a morning or afternoon person).
3. Be flexible at home
Family life, unlike office work, can’t be organized into a rigid schedule.
Kids get sick, household crises can occur at any time. Relationships have their own dynamics. Arguments and celebrations are not synced to your work schedule.
The unexpected will happen on a regular basis.
This is the joy of family life. It is authentic, real, organic. This is what makes your life rich.
4. Downtime is a diary item
And while we’re talking about schedules: downtime is a diary item! Your life is there to be lived. By you.
So you need to create space for yourself to just sit and smell the flowers (or the coffee).
This personal time, however, often gets squeezed out in favor of fulfilling obligations. Remember that your first obligation is towards yourself. And also, who is going to do all these things if you are not able to?
If you neglect your own well-being, you may well be forced to take much longer and much less pleasant downtime in the form of ill health.
5. Don’t waste time feeling guilty
How many times a day do you feel guilty?
As an experiment, write down every time you experience that feeling, and how long it takes you to get out of it.
Feeling guilty is very unpleasant and achieves nothing. On the contrary, it can bring you down and affect your energy and positive outlook.
Now, try another radical experiment: stop feeling guilty altogether and use the time instead to fit in a tiny pocket of much needed downtime.
6. Get help
Directly: hire someone to do some of your tasks. Employ someone to help you around the house. Outsource administrative tasks and delegate at work.
Indirectly: share shopping and errand trips. Everyone can get their errands done by taking turns with friends. Then, use the time saved for a fun get-together.
7. Involve your partner
Encourage your partner to share the burden of family errands and tasks as fairly as possible. This is good for your schedule and for your relationship at the same time!
8. Strong boundaries
The most important skill in juggling family and career is to create and maintain strong boundaries.
Boundaries within yourself: stay focused on your own personal priorities. Don’t let other people tell you how you should live your life.
Determine your own values and stick to them.
Boundaries with other people: decide how much time you want to share and how you want to share it. Don’t let other people crash your boundaries. Respect theirs.
9. Reframe your family obligations
Time spent with members of your family can be viewed as yet another task. Or you can reframe your perspective. Every minute you spend with a member of your family is actually quality time spent building and nurturing relationships, relationships that are also nurturing to you.
Keep sane at all times by remembering that this is your life, and everything you do is part of your choices.