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How to Make Time for Your Family Even With a Demanding Job

How to Make Time for Your Family Even With a Demanding Job

Today’s career is no longer a straight climb up the corporate ladder, but rather a combination of climbs, lateral moves and planned descents. -Cathleen Benko, author of Mass Career Customization

Why is the work-family balance so difficult to get right? Juggling demands of the job with family commitments can leave you depressed and frustrated. Before we look at some ways to help you in the jungle, let us examine a list of factors that make it so complicated:

  • Work schedules rarely match school timetables. Time for a revolution?
  • Working from home or remotely is often not even considered.
  • Companies are generally reluctant to introduce family-friendly measures.
  • Women are under more pressure. Female employees are more likely to resign because of family commitments than men. Old traditional values die hard.
  • Only about 30% of women hold senior executive positions in government and public service sectors.
  • Choosing family over career is often frowned upon in spite of the government’s commitment to “family values” at every election.
  • Video conferencing is not used enough. It can reduce traveling distances, time, and expenses.
  • Women are often forced to make a difficult choice between career advancement when their teenagers are at their most vulnerable.

Here are seven ways to help you find the right balance during your own corporate climb:

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1. You make your own schedule.

You are the one who decides. Yes, your boss may make some demands, but you can investigate with him or her what the chances are of working a shorter week, working flex-time, working remotely, and reducing traveling to meetings. You can also tell your boss what your priorities are in getting the work-life balance right. On the basis of this, you can decide how many hours you are going to be on the job, remembering that the longer hours you work, the less productive you become. This is all about choices.

2. Now schedule your family time.

Just as you schedule meetings, write down the chunks of family time you need in your calendar. Treat these in the same way you manage all those meetings and other deadlines that haunt you. Being haunted by your family is much more fun!

3. Do some fun things at home.

When you do get home for that important birthday party, play recital or sports event, switch off your phone as you arrive. Time to switch on your family. You can enjoy doing a few things together so this is really prime time. You can forget about your emails and Facebook status until after you’ve focused on family.

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4. Outsource and team up with other parents.

If you are plagued about getting the groceries in, why not order them online and have them delivered? You will save loads of time.

Team up with other parents so that you can share fetching kids from their activities. Pooling resources makes a lot of sense and saves on fuel and emissions.

5. You and your partner make a great team.

Maybe you are both working, so you will have to work out what are the best time savers and ways you can support each other. This is the real test of any relationship, especially when it comes to household chores. In fact, according to a 2007 Pew Research Poll, chores are in the top three factors for a happy relationship, alongside good sex and fidelity.  Here are a few tips:

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  • Set aside money to get the cleaning done regularly by a service.
  • Decide together who is on duty for family events and transportation.
  • Neither partner needs to micro-manage the other.
  • Forget critical supervisory roles.
  • Decide on who pays bills and does the laundry.

You want to avoid a situation where one partner has to sacrifice his/her leisure for the sake of the children or keeping the home on the rails. Be a team and work together.

6. Use commuting/traveling time to bond.

Don’t waste your time here. If using public transport, you can easily call your partner and kids or just send them texts. It is a great way to bond. That is much better than checking work emails on your smartphone. If you are driving, a hands–free phone is a great investment as you can drive and talk to your loved ones at the same time.

7. Plan your family holiday.

If you can plan the family holiday well in advance, this is great. It means that you cannot cancel flights very easily, and it also means your family is committed to a block of pure family pleasure. You can encourage your partner to make sure it really happens by checking that you have both got the leave approved by your bosses. Use a countdown chart on your family notice board. Award a star every time you manage to avoid/postpone/re-arrange a work commitment in that sacred space.

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Try these tips to make your life with your family a reality and not a figment of your imagination. Remember that Steven Spielberg once remarked that he never saw his father because he was a workaholic. Now, you wouldn’t want one of your kids to remember you like that, would you?

Featured photo credit: work,work,work/Nina Hale via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on September 17, 2020

5 Practical Ways to Get Over a Mental Block

5 Practical Ways to Get Over a Mental Block

There’s nothing quite like a state of “flow” when you’re working. The rare moments when your inspiration aligns with your motivation likely lead to some of your most creative work. Plus, it feels great to actually check a task or project off the list so you can move on to the next thing. Meanwhile, a mental block — its opposite — can cause work to feel laborious and uninspired. Forget creativity when you have a mental block — it makes it difficult even to start working on what you need to do.

A mental block can manifest in several ways. Perhaps your imposter syndrome is squelching your creative ideas, for instance, or you’re overwhelmed by the breadth of a project and its impending deadline. Maybe you’re just tired or stressed.

Either way, having a mental block feels like being trapped in your own head, and it can seriously dampen your ability to think outside the box. The problem is, you’re so locked into your own perspective that you don’t see more innovative approaches to your problems.[1]

Luckily, jumping over these mental hurdles is simpler than you think. You just need the right strategies to get your flow back.

Try these five practical ways to overcome a mental block.

1. Break Your Project Down

A few years ago, I was working on changing a company product that I believed would hugely benefit our customers. Sounds great, right?

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As inspired as I was to make people’s lives easier, though, the sheer magnitude of the task at hand felt overwhelming. Every morning, I cracked open my laptop to work and felt totally paralyzed. I loved the idea, yes, but actualizing it felt risky. What if it didn’t turn out the way I pictured in my mind? More importantly, where would I even begin?

A former colleague gave me great advice over coffee:

Change how you think. Start by breaking the big project down into small tasks.

When a major project overwhelms you, you only see the entire forest instead of the individual trees. And as you stare it down, you start to feel discouraged by your own lack of progress, thus slowing you down further.

Breaking down a massive task into smaller chunks makes the work feel more manageable. You’ll have multiple clear places to start and end with, which will lend a motivating sense of productivity and mastery to your process. Learn more about it here: The Motivation Flowchart: The Mental Process of Successful People

Think of it as accumulating small wins. When you realize you’re more capable than you have once thought, you’ll develop the momentum and confidence needed to get your big job done little by little.[2]

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2. Change Up Your Scenery

Of course, there’s a time and place for sitting down to get things done. But if you’re experiencing a mental block, switching up your surroundings can make a big difference in your output.

Have you ever noticed how your environment directly impacts your performance and mood?

Your brain associates your physical surroundings with certain feelings and activities. So, if you feel mentally stuck, your mind may need some new sensory stimuli.

During this time in your life, it may not be possible to set up shop at a cafe or move from your cubicle to a conference room, so you may need to think outside the box. If you’re working remotely in a home office, try going to your dining table or couch. If the weather cooperates, sit outside for a bit with your computer or take a walk around the block.

You can also simply rearrange your workspace. Not sure where to begin? Try decluttering. Some studies show that an organized desk enhances productivity.[3]

The point is to stimulate your brain with new sounds and sights. You may find a much-needed dose of inspiration when you work while breathing in the fresh air, listening to city sounds, or staying in the comfort of your own living space.

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3. Do an Unrelated Activity

When it comes to productivity, a bit of distraction isn’t always a bad thing. That’s especially true if your chosen distraction helps you get things done in the long run.

Have you realized how your most creative thoughts tend to bubble up when you’re, say, lying in bed or taking a shower? In their research of the “incubation period,” scientists have discovered that people’s best ideas seem to surface when they aren’t actively trying to solve a problem.[4]

In a 2010 study, participants needed to look for a roommate or new employee based on the profiles that the researchers gave. The people who had a brief “incubation period” — in this case, working on an anagram — consistently made better choices than those who spent more time weighing their options.

If you can’t seem to prime your brain for a project, try doing something completely unrelated to work, such as washing your dishes, working out, or calling a friend. Some experts say finding another low-stake project to work on can help jump-start the creative part of your brain and activate your flow.[5]

The key is to allow your unconscious mind to do its best work: eliciting the new knowledge your conscious mind may be ignoring or suppressing.[6]

4. Be Physical

Feeling antsy? When your mind won’t seem to settle into a state of flow, it may help to swap out your mental activity for a physical one and see how it impacts your perspective.

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While any physical activity is beneficial for your body — and getting up to move can serve as a helpful form of distraction — certain forms of exercise can more directly impact the mind. To be specific, relaxing, flow-based exercises like dance, yoga, or tai chi can create a gentle sense of momentum in your body, which can prime your brain for the same state.

Stress-reducing activities may also be necessary. Meditating or taking slow, deep breaths will also calm your nervous system if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Evidence shows that the logical, creative part of your brain essentially shuts off when you’re stressed.[7]

On the flip side, when your mind and body are relaxed, you can think more clearly, be more creative, and focus for longer periods — all of which will help you overcome a mental block.

5. Don’t Force It

It can be frustrating to fight against your own mind. If your mental block won’t go away after some effort, it may be time to take a break. Forcing creative thoughts only adds to your stress levels, which in turn inhibits your ability to think creatively. And if you sit and stare at a project for too long, you’ll not only waste valuable time but also begin to associate this specific work with frustration and produce work you’re not proud of.

“I know that forcing something is not going to create anything beyond mediocre, so I step aside and work on a different project until it hits me,” the artist Ben Skinner said about his creative process.[8]

If your work isn’t time-sensitive, then it may make sense to step away for a while to focus on something else, be it an administrative task that requires less creativity or a project that you feel motivated to work on.

When the time is right, you’ll find your way back to the original task with a fresh, creative perspective (hopefully).

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Featured photo credit: Jonas Leupe via unsplash.com

Reference

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