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:Advertising
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.Advertising
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:Advertising
- 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.Advertising
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
Last Updated on July 13, 2020
How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day
Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed and exhausted.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm; leaving you calmer, in control and a lot less stressed.
1. Write Everything down to Offload Your Mind
The first thing you can do when you begin to feel overwhelmed is to write everything down that is on your mind.
Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s on your mind.
For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind”.
The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will begin the process of removing your feeling of overwhelm. Writing things down can really change your life.
2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos
Once you have ‘emptied your head,’ go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.
As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.
Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. Here’s How to Cultivate a More Meaningful To Do List.
3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law
Now here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and us humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take:((Odhable: Genesis of Parkinson’s Law))
This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad but they stick to the belief it will only take thirty minutes. It’s more wishful thinking than good judgment.
We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage. If you have estimated that to write five emails that desperately need a reply to be ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.
Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is you put yourself under a little time pressure and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.
When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time and so it plays tricks on us and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our colleagues to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.
Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening and we get more focused and more work done.
4. Use the Power of Your Calendar
Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos. Go through your to-dos and schedule time on your calendar for doing those tasks. Group tasks up into similar tasks.
For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.
Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.
5. Make Decisions
For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.
If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.
If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss, a colleague and get advice.
Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. You need to make a decision to deal with it and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved. (You can take a look at this guide on How To Make Good Decisions All The Time.)
I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend of mine of the problem. He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I paid a smaller amount for a couple of months.
This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:
The first, don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second, there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.
6. Take Some Form of Action
Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we feel overwhelmed (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.
The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.
It also means rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible and you can make decisions easier about what to do about them. Often it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be you see you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.
Overwhelm is not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work, it can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.
The Bottom Line
Make a decision, even if it is to just talk to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something on its own will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution one way or another.
When you follow these strategies to can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.
More Tips for Reducing Work Stress
- How to Eliminate Work Stress When You’re Stressed to the Max
- Want to Feel More Energized Throughout the Day? Start With This
- 8 Important Things to Remember When You Are Feeling Overwhelmed
Featured photo credit: Andrei Lazarev via unsplash.com