As the school year commences, families are gearing back up. Most parents are in the middle of creating new schedules, which means they’ll face the all-time challenge of balancing work and family.
Figuring out how and when to spend time with family while simultaneously growing your career is never easy. So, in this article, I’ll share vital time management and productivity tips for working parents. These strategies will make coping easier and help you find that perfect balance between work and family. Let’s dig in:
Time Management Tips for Working Parents
Do you always feel like there’s not enough time during the day to accomplish tasks? If you do, these time management tips might help:
Audit Your Calendar
The first thing you need to do is to take a keen look at your current calendar. With your calendar in one hand and a pen in the other, go through all the obligations you accomplished the previous week.
Are there any tasks that you could have skipped or said no to? If there are, circle them with your pen. This way, you can omit them when creating your next week’s schedule.
Now, I’m not saying you’ll be able to suddenly clear out 40% of your calendar. But, those few tasks you eliminate create wiggle room to fit in some much-needed “me-time.” For instance, aren’t your kids old enough to load and unload the dishwasher? I bet even the little ones can pick up their toys and clean up after themselves.
Have you ever heard of the timeboxing concept? Well, this is the practice of allocating a specific amount of time or a “box” to each task. This applies to both household chores and work-related activities.
If you’re a perfectionist like me, you strive to do everything perfectly. The problem with this is that you end up accomplishing very little. A better approach is to figure out a reasonable time for each activity, emphasis on reasonable. Once that time elapses, move on to something else.
Timeboxing offers two major benefits. One, it pushes you to complete tasks within a predetermined duration. Two, it helps you accomplish a couple of things in one day. When assigning time for each task, it would be smart to leave some wiggle room, which brings me to my next point.
Plan With Time Margins
As a working individual, you’ll never have enough work hours during the day to accomplish everything you’d like to. And as a parent, you’ll never get as many hours as you’d like to do everything.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to stretch 24 hours into 48 or more. The only thing you can do is figure out how to manage the time you have, more smartly and efficiently.
An easy way to do this is to schedule your activities with a time margin. In other words, create a time reservoir for important activities. So rather than allocating 40 minutes to a work call that will likely last an hour, allocate a full hour from the get-go.
Even if the work call ends early, you’ll have 20 minutes of spare time. You can then use this time to take notes of the call that just ended, schedule your child’s playdate, grab a cup of coffee, or get some fresh air outside.
Productivity Tips for Working Parents
The following hacks will help you maximize your productivity as a working parent:
Set Time for Smaller Tasks
If you’re like most working parents, you prefer to tackle the bigger and more time-consuming tasks first.
Although you have the right intention when doing this, the end results are often counterproductive. That’s because you spend a ton of time on the bigger projects, causing the smaller tasks to pile up quickly. Once this happens, you become more stressed and less focused on the project at hand.
Want to be more relaxed and attentive when handling bigger projects? Then, slot in time for smaller tasks as well. This keeps them from piling up, which, in turn, eases your stress level.
Another tip that can help you be more productive is to create boundaries both at your workplace and at home.
This won’t be easy and it might even make you and others uncomfortable. But without these boundaries, the lines between work and family tend to get blurred, ultimately making you less productive on both fonts.
So, how should you go about setting these boundaries? I’d recommend having a discussion with your family and letting them know when you are and aren’t available. This is particularly important if you work from home.
Remember to set boundaries at work too. For instance, if your supervisor makes an unreasonable request, learn to say No.
But when it comes to your boss, you should look for polite ways to phrase your explanations. Don’t make harsh statements, such as “It’s time for me to go home” or “I’m really stressed, I can’t handle this.” Instead, explain that “If I spend my time on A, we might lose this deal that I’ve been working on” or “there might not be enough time to tackle B.”
Form a Network With Other Working Parents
Do you know other working parents, either from school or work? If you do, they’re probably facing the same struggle of balancing work and family.
So, one thing that might help is forming a support network. You can then meet up and discuss ways to share obligations, which eases life for everyone. For instance, you can share carpooling duties if your kids attend the same school. You can also plan playdates and sleepovers.
This allows you to concentrate on tasks that would otherwise be challenging to do if your kids were around. More importantly, the network of parents offers you indispensable emotional support.
Balancing work and family is a tall order. If you’ve been struggling to be a committed employee and present parent simultaneously, the tips highlighted in this post might help.
When it comes to time management, start by auditing your calendar or daily routine. Narrow down your to-do list by getting rid of time-wasting or tasks that can be delegated to others. Next, set a reasonable time for each task, and leave some time margins while you’re at it.
Similarly, you can maximize your productivity by creating boundaries, prioritizing smaller tasks and building a network with other working parents.