By Becca Cole
Over the last year I’ve gone from working full-time at Careers, to having a baby and working as a full-time mom and, more recently, returning to work and trying to juggle everything in-between. Whether you are a uni student, parent, full-time worker, part-time worker, carer, or just have really needy friends, we could all use some tips for managing the juggling act of life. Here are the top 4 tips that keep me sane.
1. Know your limits and learn how to say no (gracefully)
Before I went on parental leave, I was able to take on a lot of projects, spend hours a day advising students and still have time for all the little admin tasks of office life. As a part-time worker, I have 21 precious hours a week to take care of my projects, maintain the relationships I have with my colleagues, and execute a number of different tasks.
This means that when a colleague comes to me with an idea, I have to be honest and open with them about how much I can realistically help. I ask them difficult questions about how many hours they think a certain project will take and what the impact will be on stakeholders. Often, people think their project is paramount, so sometimes I have to spend extra time considering importance and urgency to save time in the long run.
In the end, communication is always key. Communicate with your colleagues that you don’t think you will be able to do this project justice at the moment but you’d love to revisit it later. Communicate to your boss that you are excited about a certain project, but you need some assistance. Most importantly, communicate with yourself and be realistic about not just what you can do but what you can do well.
2. Maximise your time and set up systems that help you have as many ‘wins’ as possible
I have an hour commute to work on public transport. I currently work Monday-Wednesday, and on my way to work on Monday morning, I check all the emails that I’ve missed from Thursday-Friday. Usually, I have about 60-75 emails sitting in my inbox, so I spend that time going through each one, deleting the junk, scheduling time for the important ones and filing away the emails that are FYI. My Monday morning goal is to get through all my emails by the time I get to work which allows me to hit the ground running.
On my way home, I spend time thinking about what ‘life admin’ needs to be done and I put together a list of goals for the night (and yes, it is completely ok for one of your goals to be ‘shower’). With these systems in place, I can shift my mental state in the lead-up and make the most of every minute.
3. Wherever you are, be fully present
When I’m at home with my husband and daughter, I pick up my phone as little as possible. Apps related to work are completely off limits. Even multitasking by watching TV with my husband and scrolling through social media is a habit I’m trying to break. As a professional time juggler, your time is precious. When I’m at home, I’m at home. When I’m at work, I’m at work. When I’m physically with my friends, I’m mentally with them as well.
A note about phone usage: If you need your phone for “downtime”, consider setting up realistic expectations of how much time you should spend on your phone.
Here is an example:
- On an average workday, I wake up around 6:00 am and go to sleep around 10:30, giving me about 16.5 hours of awake time.
- It takes me about an hour to get ready for work (including breakfast), I work for 8 hours including my lunch break, and then I take about 90 minutes to make and eat dinner.
- My commute to and from work is 2 hours round trip.
- It takes me about 30 minutes to shower and get ready for bed.
This leaves me with 3.5 hours to do my ‘life admin’, hang out distraction-free with my family and friends, and do some self-care. Can I really afford to spend 2 hours on my phone?
4. Be kind to yourself
All of these tips work well for me but everyone is different, and priorities range from person to person. Make sure to schedule self-care and make your mental, physical and emotional health a priority.
Featured image courtesy of Unsplash