As we come to the end of the summer holidays and the start of a new term for school children, I have been coaching two clients recently on the subject of work/life integration. Both clients have been finding that the juggling act between both work and their family/personal life has become too difficult. They each wanted that they could alter their lives in order that they felt in control of both their work, and also their family/personal life. Due to the speed of life at present, made worse frequently by technology and the fact that people can now rarely be completely ‘out of the office’, many people do feel that their lives are running away with them and no element of their life is quite as they wish it to be. With my clients, we have broken down their lives and looked at each element, and how we can work to bring control to that area. No one should feel that their life is running away with them – one client said to me several years ago, ‘I feel that I am on a rollercoaster, it is going so fast and I don’t know how to stop it’. So as we enter into September, here are some tips which I feel can help bring order to one’s life.
- Outsource what you don’t have time to do, or what you don’t enjoy doing. Several self-employed clients realised that their accounts were getting on top of them, and have now taken on an accountant. They have said that the difference to their working week has been immense. Other clients have outsourced their social media, their event management, their diary, their website management etc. They have all realised that it was far better to pay a professional for 10 hrs work, rather than spending 40-50 hrs themselves trying to figure it out.
- Cherish good help, especially those that care for your children or other family members. Resist any pangs of jealousy – be grateful that your loved one is happy whilst you are away.
- Establish routines and boundaries for children – they need these for security. I also very much believe that you need this in order to have time for yourself. As my children are very young, I know that from 7.30pm every evening, I will be able to work or relax. If there was no bedroom routine, I would not be able to plan for either work in the evening, or relaxing.
- If you have several children, try to be time-efficient: one trip to buy all the uniforms, one trip to the dentists for all, one trip to the shoe shop etc. I also suggest doing these activities around the beginning of July (feet aren’t going to grow radically between July and September!) – why leave it until the end of August, when you are forced to then join thousands of people doing the same?
- Have time for you – get your gym sessions, hair appointments, coaching sessions – whatever it may be, in the diary. And once they are in the diary, don’t delete them unless it must happen. Even the busiest CEOs make time for these activities (usually by waking at 5.30/6am). Remember healthy body, healthy mind.
- Work out whether you work best by focusing on one thing at a time or dealing with multiple strands of thought – I am a focused person, but I know I work with many jugglers who can dip in and out of work.
- Accept that things won’t be ‘just so’. I used to want to have everything perfect – I would spend 2-3 evenings preparing for a dinner party, cooking every single item including the canapés from scratch. I have realised that with work and family life, I can no longer achieve that, and nor do I want to. So, I now outsource – if I can purchase a delicious quiche, instead of spending several hours trying to make my own, I will. I can used the time that I have saved, for doing something that I enjoy – a walk with the children, time at the play park etc.
- Have time with your partner. Prioritise this over any other socialising.