Do you recall the last time you had a stretch of 10 minutes where there were no demands on you from work? And your kids left you alone long enough for you to enjoy a moment of downtime? Remember what that felt like? Or has it been too long?
If you are blessed to have your own business and children at home, you're extremely lucky, but also probably feeling dead on your feet. Most working professionals take on productivity and time management skills as a way to up their game. But working parents do it as a matter of survival.
Find it hard to strike a balance between devoting time to one's work and one's children? Want to end your days on a better note, feeling more in control of what's going on?
Here are 5 tips that savvy working parents adopt.
1. Outsource the easy stuff.
Delegate. You know you should do it more. But maybe your perfectionist or controlling side is telling you that no one can do it as well as you can? That obsessive side is not going to help you live a more relaxed life. Do you know what will? Outsourcing stuff that others can handle. Want a home-cooked meal so your kids are eating healthy? Consider a personal chef. Tired of your house not getting the deep clean you know is long overdue? Hire a house cleaning service.
2. Have rules for yourself and your family.
Ever heard of decision fatigue? Yes, it's a thing. And as a parent, your role is that of head decision maker within your family. Not to mention all the decisions you must make at work, too. The New York Times, when covering this syndrome, put it like this: "You can't make decision after decision without paying a biological price."
Want to ease the mental burden that you are likely under? Have simple rules that keep your choices from ballooning. No email after 6pm. No phone calls after 5pm. Weekly allowance to your children is contingent on homework completed. Etc.
3. Keep promises. But be careful when making them.
No one wants to be that parent who fails to show up at recitals or PTA meetings. Trying to meet the scheduling demands of your children, while running a business is a never-ending maze. One with obstacles that shift constantly.
There's something worse than not showing up, however. And that's saying you will, but then not delivering the goods. This is true whether you have committed to being at your child's soccer game, or to a client deadline. Don't back out of promises. Your word will begin to mean less and less to others and to yourself. The solution? Promise less, but if you do make a promise, keep your word.
4. Don’t rely on your memory.
You used to have a great memory. And you only know this because you have begun to forget things with increasing frequency. The change you must make is from thinking you will remember what needs to be done, to realizing the odds are high you will forget. After you have accepted this reality, establish the habit of writing everything down. Take notes about everything. Which brings us to the next point.
5. Schedule your to do list.
Yes, the satisfaction of crossing out an item on your to do list is real. But it can also hang heavy on the mind when you're adding to the list faster than you can cross items off.
One solution? Add each to-do task to your calendar. Assign it a time slot when you know you'll be able to focus on it. Doing this will help you pin down exactly when you'll do the task. This strategy has a better chance of success over hoping that extra time will appear at the end of the day for you to tackle your whole to-do list at once.