Time Saving, Communication and Technology Tips for Working Mums
When you return to work after having kids you may decide to reduce the hours of your previous role, find a new part-time role or work for yourself; these can all be very successful routes but can also pose challenges if you don’t have a clear plan and set strict boundaries for yourself and/or your employer and clients.
Here are some tips and useful technologies that have helped me as well as friends and colleagues in my position to take control, reduce stress levels and achieve the success you deserve…
Set clear expectations with your employer, colleagues and clients
Whether you are working for yourself, employed or have your own clients, make sure from the very start that you are clear on your working hours so that everyone has realistic expectations of your availability. Failure to do this causes frustration on their part and guilt on yours if you have to start saying no to things out of hours.
Be strict with your time
Once you have set these guidelines, be strict with yourself. If work spills into time with your family, then both suffer as you won’t be engaged properly in either area of your life; this can cause a lot of stress to you and those around you. I used to try and take work calls whilst helping the kids with their homework and nobody wins in the end so it’s best to switch work off!
To do list
There is nothing more satisfying than ticking items off your to-do list! Set yourself achievable goals each day, week and month and don’t try to over commit yourself or you’ll feel defeated at the end of the day and are more likely to work at times that you shouldn’t be to keep up. Wunderlist is great as it’s browser and app based and syncs seamlessly. If you think of something out of hours simply pop it on your list and star it as a priority for tomorrow. You can also separate lists out so you can have one for work and other areas of your life if you’d like to. There is also a lovely tinging noise when you complete a task!
Give yourself a set hour each morning to answer emails (or a time that works for you) so that you’re not constantly replying and can ensure that time outside that is as focused and productive as possible. Also add your working hours to your email signature, set your out of office replies outside of those times and switch off email push on your phone if you’d like to be super strict with yourself!
Stop taking work phone calls outside of work hours. If you have a second phone for work, switch it off as soon as your working day ends. If you only have the one phone, find a way of separating work from personal calls. If you have an iPhone, try Another Number which adds a work number to your main mobile and can be switched off when you’re not working, whilst using your number as usual. It even transcribes your voicemails so you can read your messages when you’re back in work mode.
Try the Pomodoro technique and spend an uninterrupted 25 minutes on a task and you’ll find that your productivity is boosted. It’s actually great for kids and their homework too so could help the whole family.
If you’re working at home it’s easy to feel isolated so make sure you stay in touch with colleagues and clients regularly by using communications tools such as Slack, which allows you to chat, share ideas and files and collaborate using screen share, rather than sending lots of emails back and forth. You can even separate conversations into ‘channels’ so you only see what’s relevant to you.
Downtime & clearing your head.
When trying to balance work and family life your mind can become very busy and often you’ll switch very rapidly from business owner to Mum and then back again without a second to breathe (it may seem!). As difficult as it may sound, take ten minutes of time for you each day to clear your mind. Mindfulness is the buzz word of our times but it really works. Try Headspace app which has helped millions of people worldwide to get more focused, switch off, stress less and enjoy life more.
Create a clutter-free, dedicated workspace that you can leave or close at the end of your working day. This may mean converting an area of your house or looking at co-working spaces. There are some really unusual and inspiring spaces for this, some of these even offer childcare; seek out places such as Bloomsbury Beginnings or the Entreprenursery – finally offices that combine work and childcare rather than making it more difficult!
Ally Munarriz is a Step-Mum of two who runs the marketing for Another Number, an app which was launched in March 2017 to enable users to stop carrying two mobiles, stop taking work calls on their personal mobile and gain a work-life balance by switching off when they need to.