To balance work life and family is a daily task for Mums (and single Dads) running their own business.
A moment’s distraction turned into 30 minutes on things that still had to be done, but not right then.
Back at my desk, it took a few minutes to get back into gear. So how can we get better and balance work life with family?
Why is the tap (fawcet) in the kitchen always right next to the sink?
Thinking from the customer’s point of view is not as easy as it sounds. Here’s a good example.
Plumbers are out in the field working with and for their customers. More often than not, they don’t attempt to run a family and look after children at the same time. So they think it makes good sense to have a tap above a sink.
But let’s think from the customer’s point of view for a moment.
When you are running a business from home, every so often you need a cuppa. You go to the tap to fill the kettle and look! Right there are the dirty dishes from breakfast.
The children headed off to school and kindly cleared the breakfast, well as far as the sink at least. But as you fill the kettle, your instincts around running the family as well as a business kick in and you are tempted to just wash those couple of plates and a cereal bowl. It won’t take a moment.
That has just happened to me, but unfortunately I also remembered I left a dish in the oven after dinner last night and that needed to be washed.
Now my mind is on ‘house’ not ‘business’. A moment’s distraction turned into 30 minutes on things that still had to be done, but not right then.
Back at my desk, it took a few minutes to get back into gear. All because the plumber didn’t think about me, his customer, a single dad running a business, and put the tap next to the sink. How thoughtless of him. Or is it me?
Luckily, over the months and years, I have become much more disciplined and this type of split concentration is largely behind me. But it still happens. Ohh, and I should have mentioned I forgot all about making the tea.
One simple idea to help balance work life with family?
For me, ToDo lists….agghhh!
I know, I’ve heard it all before. I was introduced to ToDo lists in the ‘80s when the choice of one’s personal ‘planner’ for the coming year became something of a ritual, with Time Managers and Filofax appearing everywhere.
Been there, done that, I have tried so many ways of ToDo lists and I still struggle to keep to one system.
But what I do know is simply that the more I stick to the ritual of writing down tasks and prioritising them, the more I get done.
Here are some related ideas that may help you:
- Write out and prioritise in the evening before bed, re-prioritise in the morning as our sleeping brains have made some choices for us.
- A, B, C lists – Where A is important and urgent, B is important but not urgent and C is neither (and honestly, will it get done? No, but keep it on the list because one day it might rise to a B or even A).
- Say “No” to things, especially if you are a pleaser and people ask you to do things.
- Break tasks down. “Redo my website” is not a ToDo type task, it is a project. My ToDo tasks need to be of the magnitude that I can achieve within the time slots available or they run on and don’t get finished.
- Start at #1 and don’t move on until each one is done, then mark it off. The visual effect of marking the items off…ahhh, can’t emphasise enough, lovely.
- Allocate blocks of time and do not expect tasks to get done in ‘spare time’.
Brendon Burchard (High Performance Academy and other great productivity initiatives) talks about first listing Projects, People (to reach out to, like prospects and clients, as well as waiting on, where you may need to chase) and then Priorities.
Of all these, I personally find marking each task off the most effective and motivating way to stay focused.
Back to the plumber for a moment. If he really saw things from his customer’s perspective, in the case of Mums (or single Dads) running businesses, he might think of putting the tap next to the desk (with a kettle). But I’m thinking that wouldn’t catch on and we would have wet carpets.
So perhaps I can’t blame the plumber for my own distractions.
As I returned to my desk, minus tea, just now, I decided to write this article but once the first draft was done. I stopped for just a few moments to reassess my own ToDo list for today.
The fact is I didn’t have one. Not really.
Some post-its that I was aware of, but if I had, I would not have done the washing up in the middle of work time. The ToDo list really does help me to balance work life with the rest of the world around me.
Originally posted on MumsandBusiness.com