Guys, it’s my first full week back at my job after eight crazy but wonderful weeks of maternity leave. I have to admit that I’m a little excited to be back. I enjoy my work… I enjoy the strategic side, the creative side, even the spreadsheets side. While I’ve really loved being 100% present for my three beautiful girls for two whole months, I can’t say that drinking a hot cup of coffee (in a real ceramic mug) and sitting down at my computer to write a full, uninterrupted email is something that I don’t appreciate. A lot. Marley is still by my side most of the day (I’m fortunate enough to work from home) but Taylor’s sweet college nanny is available to scoop her up for conference calls and the like.
One of my main goals, now that I’m back in the swing of things, is to explore ways to achieve a new level of calmness amidst the daily busy-ness that keeps us on our toes.
I was reading this article on time management and appreciated the insight on what time management vs productivity is to author Jordan Cohen. His motto is make time for what really matters, and he points out that it’s not about time per se, but more about what we do with that time. Essentially, our productivity.
This struck a chord and started a new internal dialogue for me because I feel as though if I really want to try and balance that great motherhood juggle, then I have to be really good at being productive in the small amounts of time that I’ve allocated to the many tasks on my plate. Not busy – no, that results in feeling drained and frazzled. Not just busy but instead productive. That, for me, is the ultimate definition of juggling.
Here are a few new approaches that I came up with that I think will help with making sure my time is productive time:
Prioritize my list – what must I get done, what would I like to do (Cohen suggests keeping a list of a few things that you really want to do, and then to go back to it frequently to figure out why you can’t do those things)
Organize my day around that list – schedule and allocate various tasks based on priority
Truly value my time for each task – be productive with what I have
Ask for help when I need it – yes!
Don’t forget to enjoy :) - this exercise for me is to create breathing room
Being productive can’t just be multi-tasking on steroids – I’m sure that, like me, most moms already pick up the living room while brushing their teeth, mop the kitchen while overseeing breakfast or update company spreadsheets/expense reports while listening in on conference calls. Being productive also means knowing when tasks can be deleted, delegated or redesigned.
New idea: let’s not manage our time by the hands on a clock, let’s measure it by what we are accomplishing (what if every company had this expectation out of their employees? Imagine work-life balance!).
Now that I’m not on maternity leave I will miss taking Liv to dance on Tuesday mornings, I will miss the flexibility to run a quick errand, I will miss Friday mommy & me with Taylor, I will miss cooking fancier dinners that require afternoon meal prep, I will miss random trips to the park.
But the grass is always greener, and soon enough I will realize there’s still time for little bits of all of the above, just without the same frequency. BIG plus – weekends will be special again! Having an extra eye for productivity during my weekdays means that I am storing up extra time for the things that matter most. And then I can put the whole productivity concept to rest (family time, pancakes, staying up too late) for a couple of days before starting again. I love that.
More ideas and musings from a working mom.