Finding worklife balance

My mother was working since she was 18 years old. She was a stenographer and typist or now popularly known as Executive Assistant. However, her job was anything but glamorous. She started out by getting paid INR 2/- per page that she typed on a typewriter and worked till I was 18 years old. She has long left her professional life, but even today, after 50 years or so, she fondly recalls her corporate life. Looking at her smile, I was wondering how did they find their work-life balance in a day and age where machines had not yet made our lives simpler.

How many of us don’t even realize that washing machine, dishwasher, microwave, oven, and a house help were actually a luxury until the late 90’s? If our mothers could wake up each day to prepare our breakfast, pack our lunches, do all the housework manually, make sure our clothes were ironed and get us ready for school on time, what is our excuse really?

Yes, our jobs are a lot more stressful, corporate life today is a jungle where one is always ready to devour you. But they had little help and lower salaries to show at the end of their struggle. So I think we have absolutely no excuse to not find our work-life balance in a technology-driven world today.

Over a period of my professional life, talking to wives and mothers and watching my own mother, I would like to give you a few points in the form of an interview, to help those searching for their own work-life balance.

Question 1: Interviewer: “How do you manage to ensure that important tasks at home and work get done smoothly?”

Working Woman: “ We must learn to prioritize the tasks we have at hand. This could be a daily task or weekly or out of the blue. For example, if I know that getting my child to daycare by 8:30 AM is important so that I can reach work on time, then I will plan my activities the night before. I will make sure to keep my clothes ready for tomorrow, do the needful arrangements for breakfast, lunch and say no to any invitations during the weekday as far as possible.

Hence, to list your priorities and then working towards accomplishing them are of paramount importance to a good work-life balance. One way of doing this is also to learn the art of delegating. Learn to let go of control and allow others to help you achieve the tasks which less of your attention. Allow colleagues and family members help out as much as possible.

Question 2: Interviewer: “How do you stay connected with what’s happening at home while at work?”

Working Woman: “We are blessed to be born in the day and age where technological advancements have blurred distance and concept of space. Try and use your break time to connect with your children or husband or parents. Use this time to have video chats, phone calls and check in on them. Communicate with them prior that these calls are check-in calls and to keep it brief and are to share important things. Let them know you are reachable and there for them”.

Question 3: Interviewer: “What suggestions would you like to give all the working women out there about time-management”?

Working Woman: We all have 24 hours in a day to accomplish what is at hand. Off this, we have only 8 hours at work and about 6-7 waking hours at home. Hence, the key to having a productive day is to manage your time well. One of the biggest enemies of productivity is distractions. Try to keep your distractions to the minimum. For example, if you are working on a project with hard deadlines and when you have no important task to look into at home, stay overtime to give the project more of your time today. Who knows you may have an emergency at home and you can use that time off, as you are ahead at work.”

“Another practical thing you can do is, keep aside specific time to answer to emails, attending to personal calls, interact with colleagues and rationing your break times. Similarly, at home, you can make a habit of eating one meal together and watching less television and instead use that time to bond with each other.”

Question 4: Interviewer: “How do you know when to draw the line between personal and professional life”?

Working Woman: “While technology has simplified many things it has also made it difficult for us to disconnect from our jobs. We have access to our emails on our phones and are literary online 24/7. Learn to disconnect from the professional world once you enter your home. Switch off notifications on your work emails and notify your colleagues and Managers that you are not available to take calls post 8 PM.”

“On the other hand, it is harder to disconnect personally when at work. But by limiting the use of your phone to not answer to every WhatsApp message or every call from friends or family is a good start. Learn to take only select calls and messages while you are at work. Your dedication is seen and will be reciprocated when you ask to be disconnected when at home with family.”

Question 5: Interviewer: “ So in all this where is there time for ‘you’?”

Working Woman: “I learned one thing very early on as being a wife and especially a parent, we have to learn to be ‘selfless’. We have to love selflessly and give selflessly. But time to time, one needs to recoup. Hence, make sure, you set aside some time weekly for yourself. It could be as simple as reading a book in quietness, sleeping or hanging out with your friends or parents. Do whatever makes you happy and rejuvenated, because you need to get up the next morning and do it all over again.

Interviewer: Any last words

Working Woman: “I would like to leave you with just this – Each of the role we play, a daughter, a wife, a mother, a colleague, a boss or a friend, each one comes with its own complexity and demands. Take on each of that role as a privilege and joy, and you will see how easy it is to just do everything joyfully. After all, you are impacting lives with what you do.”

You may also want to read other article written by the same author ‘Career tracking while on a career break‘, ‘Career restarting for a woman on a career break‘, ‘Is returnship right for you?, ‘Five things to consider before a career break‘, ‘5 reasons why working moms are highly productive‘, ‘4 Questions to know yourself better and find a suitable career path‘, ‘5 most frequent challenges that women entrepreneurs face‘ , ‘Financially Stable and how?’ ,  ‘Be aware of your emotions and its effects on you‘ , ‘How to be your own goal keeper‘ , ‘What is the best way to say No to Office House Work‘ .

About the author:

The first time Susan Kutar (Tamang) realized that words could touch lives, she wanted to be a writer and blogger. She has 9 years of experience in Human Resources and Talent Acquisition. She likes to write about topics that impact people, which is educational and leaves the reader with something to mull over.

(The author is a guest blogger at Her Second Innings. The opinions expressed are those of the author.)

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