In this day and age as a busy, professional, working mum, it’s becoming harder and harder to stop work creeping into family life. Company culture often determines the need to be available 24/7 but the evidence shows this is unhealthy and unproductive.
It’s a myth to think that one day you will be able to go home having cleared your ‘to do’ list. It’s never going to happen. There will always be work undone at the end of the day. The elusive work-life balance is difficult to attain, especially when work is only one finger swipe away.
For many mums, leaving work on time is not a choice but essential. Often, they have to collect children from nursery or relieve the child-minder at a set time. This may mean that it’s tempting to get the laptop out after the children are in bed and suddenly the whole evening has sailed by and they’ve not had any time to relax or speak to their partner.
Here are some steps you can take to leave work where it belongs.
- Be firm with yourself. Your success with managing this challenge is down to you. It’s an act of will to slow down and clear your mind. You have to want to do it, decide to do it and then do it. If you must do work at home, agree a set time to do it and stick to it.
- Don’t let what you do become what you always do. If you are always ‘on’ this ceases to be viewed as going the extra mile. It becomes seen as the norm and is harder to pull back. It may be helpful to respond to something out of hours, but don’t let it become the norm.
- Don’t sync your work calendar with your personal calendar. Don’t sync your work email to your smartphone. If necessary, your employer should provide you with a separate phone which you can choose not to look at during evenings and weekends.
- Being clear with your colleagues when you are ‘on the job’ and not, can help you keep doing great work and enjoy it. It can help you to be more productive and engaged and less resentful and likely to burnout.
- Schedule a daily task review at the end of the day. This will help you to appreciate what you’ve achieved and show what still needs to be done. You can then prioritise these tasks and be ready to ‘eat that frog’ when you arrive at work the following morning.
- Reflect on how you use your time at work. How can you work more effectively? Can you chunk similar tasks together? How are you prioritising your activities? How can you improve your productivity so that you get more done during the working day?
- At the end of the day, create closure. Create a ritual that marks the transition between work and personal life. It could be at a point on your journey home or something simple such as washing your hands or getting changed after work.
- Treat your commute home as a positive way to wind down and start to relax. Listening to music or an inspiring podcast can help you to switch off. This is ‘your time’. Plan how best to use it in a way which benefits you most. Use this time well.
- If you need to rant and vent, do it on the journey home, rather than bringing it home with you. Call a trusted friend if possible, speak aloud if you’re in the car or write your thoughts and feelings down if you’re on the bus or the train.
- When you get home, pay full attention to your spouse or children. Never be present physically and mentally elsewhere, it’s an insult.
- Having an after work commitment makes you leave on time and gives you something else to focus on. Factoring in some regular exercise after work or after the children are in bed is so beneficial. Book that Zumba class or use that gym membership. Exercise helps circulation, digestion and releases endorphins, which improve your mood.
- Stop sleeping with your smartphone. How often do you check you work email right before you go to bed and then almost immediately after you wake up? Is the phone always within reach, even when you’re in bed?
If you’re working 24/7 and always ‘on’ this will be detrimental to your health and put a strain on your family dynamics. If you’re pleased with how you are plugging in to home life after work and are getting some quality time to relax, you don’t need my help. However, if you’re permanently attached to your laptop and phone, I can help. Message me for a mum to mum chat. I have a track record of helping mums just like you to boss their family and work lives.