Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Managing your career and your sanity

Many working parents feel somewhat frustrated and exhausted meeting the demands of work and family commitments.

A working parent is a project manager extraordinaire. Effectively managing your workload, both in the workplace and at home will ensure you remain sane. Setting clear and firm expectations is an important part of this process.

Set Clear Expectations

As an ongoing practice, it’s important to continue to keep the communication lines open with your family, colleagues and clients to manage expectations. In many cases you can avoid conflict and stress by initially setting firm boundaries.

Once you’ve been back at work for a couple of months, take time out to reflect on how your arrangements are working. Where necessary, re- communicate expectations regarding your deliverables and availability.

Avoid making compromises that may encourage your colleagues to expect more from you than you’re prepared to give.

Personal Efficiency

Not having enough hours in the day is a common complaint of many working parents. Being effective and efficient with the time you have will help you achieve more in each day. ‘Time management’ is the often prescribed remedy to feeling out of control. Consider though that time is not something we can control. What we can control is ourselves, how and with whom we use our valuable time.

Consider these following tips:

Prioritise all your activities and commitments – at home and at work - and focus your time on your most important ones first and foremost. Remember the world is unlikely to end if you don’t get to respond to everything by the day’s end – the reality is that this too happens to non-parents!

Say no! This will become easier once you have completed the prioritising. Assess individual requests and demands of your time and determine how important they are. Say no to the non-important requests. Manage your email at work, don’t let it manage you. Learn to really use whatever email application you have. Many of us don’t use even 40 per cent of the available functionality. Try only checking your emails twice a day at two regular and specified times, for example 10 am and 4 pm. You can use the ‘out of office’ function to inform people that these are the times you check email and that if their request is urgent they should contact you on your mobile. Otherwise you will respond at that specified time.

Outsource where possible. Using your annual income as a guide, determine how much your time is worth per hour. If you can outsource tasks (e.g. the house cleaning) and pay less for a service than your time is worth, then do so.

Look after number one – that’s you. If you aren’t fit and healthy the chances are you are not being as effective at work or at home as you would like! Take the necessary time out to look after yourself, even if that means spoiling yourself with weekly and monthly rewards that involve your wellbeing.

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