My baby boy just turned 1-years-old last Friday and as soon as the party was over and we had washed out the bright red birthday cake frosting from his clothes, I found myself thinking about the remaining work tasks I needed to get done for work for the week.
As a working, stay-at-home mom developing her own business, my life can feel like a rush of activities and to-dos and at the end of the day, it is all too common for me to ask the question:
“Was today a good day in terms of work-life balance?”
I know this is an important question for working parents to ask themselves in their day-to-day lives. As the demands on our time become more demanding, it is important for us to have clarity about our priorities and how we are spending our time. Often we are simply reacting to the demands of our day and I wonder how many of us are actually taking the time to sit down and consider what we want our lives to look like? Do we plan for our week ahead? Or are we just reacting to whatever comes our way?
Of course life with a toddler requires flexibility, but in general, I believe a framework (with flexibility built into it) can help working moms to feel confident that they are establishing a good work-life balance, and dare I even say, a work-life synergy in which all activities and todos serve something greater than ourselves? Say the development of a better world? Below you will find four steps to creating a schedule that helps to accomplish this:
1) Make a List of Your Top Priorities
Of course we can have MANY potential priorities including spending quality time with our spouses, taking care of our parents, preparing and eating healthy meals, etc. and while all those things are important, at the same time, it can be helpful to identify 1-2 priorities that need to receive quality attention for that given month. We want to be able to see progress along these two priorities. I am a firm believer that the rest will happen just as it should if we feel these things that matter the most at any given time are receiving adequate attention.
At this moment, my top priority is to spend quality time with my son. This means time in activities we both enjoy like attending library story time, swimming, and reading books, without distractions interfering during that time such as my work calls, texts, emails, laundry, dishes, etc. My second priority is to develop my business and attract new clients. This HAS to happen as I’m transitioning out of full-time service with the Baha’i Faith at the end of the summer and this is my pathway moving forward. As I create my schedule for the coming week, I need to keep these two priorities in mind, everything else comes secondary.
2) Create A Weekly Calendar Template
I’ve created my weekly calendar template on an easily-accessible Google Drive spreadsheet that I can update as needed. For the most part, week-by-week this is what my schedule will look like, and I can make adjustments for the upcoming month if I feel like my priorities are changing.
3) Schedule in Weekly Activities that are Based on Your Top Priorities
Some scheduled activities are already non-negotiable in our calendars, for example, if we have a set work schedule dictated by someone else– which is why I believe that more women should consider becoming their own boss!– then those things obviously have to be worked around. The remaining time really needs to receive the attention of our top 1-2 priorities. Remember that quality, focused attention during a small allotment of time is better than hours of distracted/divided time. We shouldn’t be multi-tasking during our time we set aside for our priorities.
4) Schedule a Weekly Reflection Time
This is such an important step and one that is often overlooked when we create our schedules. We need to set aside time– even just 15 minutes– to reflect on how our week went and what adjustments need to be made for the next week. For myself, I realized that I’m still too tempted to have a perfectly clean house and that I needed to let go of some of my household tasks (or do them less frequently) in order to give my son the undivided attention he deserves. At the end of each month, I revise the weekly template to reflect the priorities for the next month, possibly add a new one, and print out copies to post in places where my family can see and help support me in being true to what I’ve identified as being the most important in establishing a healthier work-life balance.
What has worked for you to help establish your work-life balance?
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