I felt I needed a bit of time for self-reflection this week. Having worked for nearly two months now and spent many evenings in front of my laptop, I have noticed that what started as a ‘let’s just see how this goes’ business, has actually become ‘all-consuming’. What’s nice, is that I have been working so hard because I actually enjoy what I do. It is tiring but I want to do more research, write more training materials, take on more clients and help more small businesses. So that is great.
However, I was meant to be working only a certain number of hours a week, whilst my youngest child was at playschool. Instead, I now work whilst he’s at playschool, any time he has a nap and evenings when I am free (as well as writing the draft of this blog on a Saturday whilst the kids play and my husband watches the rugby!) …so am I working too hard? Have I got the balance wrong? Probably…but whilst I enjoy it I think I’ll carry on!
So, what was the point to this blog? Well, it was really for me to think about how I can use my time wisely, so that the life-work balance continues to work for me. I thought about offering ‘tips’ or ‘advice’, but there is nothing worse than having someone tell you what to do on a topic like this, particularly as I think it is quite a personal thing. It is about what works best for you and your family and no one else.
So instead I thought I would just waffle on about my recent experiences for my own benefit…and hey, take from it what you will.
At the moment, I find that it is not about hours spent working versus hours spent with my children/husband/friends/family…it is about the ‘quality’ of the time spent either working or playing. If I go out of an evening I really try to enjoy it and not stress about the ‘if I was at home, I could be doing x, y,z…’ so that the next night when I am stuck at home working I can reflect on a good time the night before.
If I am ‘working’, I try to actually work! Now I know this is easier said than done, but getting a task completed and ticking it off that never-ending to do list really helps me! I nearly always start my working time with ‘quick wins’ – this was a trick I learnt on a time management course. They recommended you categorise tasks and one category was ‘quick wins’ – tasks that for you are easy and take little time. So if there is a quick holding email I have been meaning to send or a blog post that just needs proofreading, I always do that first, as I find it satisfying and not too challenging. Then when it comes to the more difficult, time-consuming task, it somehow feels a little easier knowing I’m already ‘two jobs down’.
I have time out during my ‘work time’. Whilst I don’t have a lot of time to work, I’m only human and just can’t remain completely focussed for hours on end. I actually schedule time out time when I can. So, for example, if my son is having a nap (which is usually an hour and a half), then I tell myself I’ll work for an hour then I’m going to make a cup of tea and watch TV or look on Facebook for half an hour, so that when he wakes up (or we have to rush off on the school run!) I’m ready to go again! At the end of the day, this is no different to being in the office, going down to the canteen, getting a coffee, having a chat with a colleague before returning to my desk.
Finally, I have realised how useful it is for me to ‘chunk work together’, especially if it uses similar resources or similar mindsets. For example, I schedule all of my Facebook posts. Once a week, I sit and write 5-7 posts. It helps me focus on what I want to share with you that week and saves me logging into Facebook every day, getting distracted(!), then trying to think of a post, writing it, rewording it and then publishing it. Instead, all of that thinking is done in one go and when I am completely focussed. I find the posts ‘flow’ much easier.
I’ll keep you posted on how this ‘balance’ continues…and I promise to be found regularly having a coffee with friends…whatever is going on, that ALWAYS makes me feel better! Nothing like a good natter!
And then something happens like in Westminster yesterday…and all of the above seems very trivial…