By Vidya Venkatesh @vidav
One of the aspects of parenting that caught me by complete surprise and has left me gasping has been the relentlessness of it all! It seems like despite being on my feet, and planning and scheduling every hour of my day, I still end the day with the feeling of how there are never enough hours in the day to check off everything on my list, and this seems to be a common sentiment that many of my parent-friends have shared. Our generation seems to have an enormous amount of pressure, mostly self-imposed, to have a flourishing career like Marissa Mayer during the day and transform into a domestic diva like Martha Stewart at home!
This problem of “I don’t have enough time” seems endemic to our generation; we don’t hear people from my parents’ generation complain about it as much. Funnily enough, my husband and I used to feel like our lives were full and overflowing with our social life and work events before becoming parents, once we had our twin boys, effectively managing family time, work demands, social life demands (from both our friends and the kids’ friends!) required an altogether different level of planning and execution.
As a mom who has chosen to pursue a corporate career in conjunction with parenting, I’ve found myself adapting many lessons from my mom-life to improve my efficiency in my life outside of family as well, and effective Time Management was one such.
As any parenting book or article taught me, it is extremely important to schedule our lives in advance, tweak the schedule to make it work best for all in the family, and maintain it strictly. Similarly, at work, I schedule my day in advance, and ensure that I’ve tailored it such that the events on my calendar match the level of energy that I usually have at that time of day. For example, I schedule the tasks that need my critical thinking skills for first thing in the morning, when I have the most energy and save the more routine tasks for later on in the afternoon.
As Patty Azzarello said in Rise a smart way to get more done in a day is to invest time wisely, and one way to do that is to Ruthlessly Prioritize.
Like many South Asians, large gatherings with friends and family are common occurrences for us, hosting friends and family also comes with a lot of expectations in terms of the food, décor, etc. However, post-babies, we had to ruthlessly prioritize and make sure that we still kept that bond with close, loved ones strong, but did not end up feeling overwhelmed. In the office as well, I’ve learned that I need to be razor-focused about what my goals are, and have worked hard to politely, but assertively, say NO to work that does not help meet them.
Kids of any age or gender keep parents on their toes; with twins, and twin boys whose energy leaves me exhausted in the first hour of the day, the only way to stay on top of everything has been preparing for three steps ahead. Before serving breakfast, we have to be prepared for what comes after (either school drop off or a social activity), lunch plans following that, so on and so forth. Like every mom, I have that emergency tantrum-tamer-treat and boredom-busting-book that I can whip out at a moment’s notice. I’ve taken this learning to the increasingly demanding corporate world, and have found that in order to reduce stress and work more efficiently; I’ve had to be prepared well in advance. Whether I’m aiming for a smooth presentation or a successful meeting, I’ve had to be prepared to answer not only what the next step is, but what the steps after that are too! Over-preparation has never hurt!
Multi-tasking or making a mega mess? Being able to juggle is a valuable lesson every mom learns quite early on. However, chronic multi-tasking actually leads to less overall productivity. I’m working hard to do one thing at a time, do it well, and then move on to the next, as best as my circumstances will allow me. It’s taking practice, but the results have already been rewarding. Being in the moment has helped me focus on being a mom while I’m at home, and making sure I do the best for my family, and being the best employee I can, while going my corporate-world gig.
Everyone, parent or not, needs their me time to recharge, feel rejuvenated and be a better mom/dad/wife/husband/whatever else. Me time does not have to be an expensive (time and money-wise) event at a fancy spa, although that wonderful feeling after a mani-pedi is something all moms look forward to! I sometimes use my me time to exercise, and sneak girl-time in by tagging along a fellow mom on a hike. We do that early in the morning, and come back feeling that adrenaline rush that keeps us going the rest of the day.
As we all know, work expands to fill time, and no one I know so far, has ever denied feeling like they don’t have enough time in the day. As we strive to do our best at whatever we take up, staying away from negative emotions and circumstances goes a long way in leaving us feel more energized overall.
What are your trips and tricks for time management? Do share; let us all learn from each other!
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