“When you arrange tiles to create a compelling mosaic, one with work, family, and your own sweet time too, life can be pretty good.” ~ Laura Vanderkam
One of the biggest struggles that I have as a working mom is the juggling act: even if a lot is thrown our way–work, home, and self needs–we make sure that all areas are covered, without breaking anything fragile.
Yet, how do we find the time to accomplish all these?
Time usually runs on a different course for working moms. There always seems to be a shortage of minutes or hours to do everything! How do we squeeze all our to-do’s in just 24 hours a day?
In this book, Laura offers some best case practices on time management from actual working moms. In her study, she recommends looking at each week, as a whole mosaic of 168 hours, instead of just a day of 24 hour tiles. Admittedly, there are days that we may focus on one area more than the other, and that’s fine. We find time to put effort in other areas, other days of the week.
Based on her study, an average working mom works 46 hours a week, or 6.5 hours a day. That still leaves time for rest and time for family. In fact, even if working moms claim that we don’t have enough sleep because of our never ending task lists, Laura finds that the average (American) working mom still has about 6-7 hours sleep.
So how exactly can we manage 168 hours and still do meaningful work and spend meaningful time with our families and with ourselves?
Laura offers the following time management tips which she learned from her mosaic participants, and which I find personally useful:
Working on shifts, and not straight 8-hour work time, allows us to be present for our kids when needed. Most moms either resume work after the kids are put to bed, or early morning before the rush to school. In these cases, they are able to leave work on time to pick kids from day care or be there during school presentations, and still churn out deliverables needed for work.
Be There When It Matters
Our children, and even our husband, demands our time and attention the most. So working moms need to build in the habit of using free time to give these much needed attention to the family. It can be as easy as a stroll or a talk in the evening with your husband to catch up, or a morning snuggle-and-cuddle with your kid before the morning rush. Most importantly, be there physically and mentally when it’s family time. No work, no social media, no distractions.
Use Travel Time
My work usually requires me to go on field visits or attend conferences abroad. Usually, I look forward to this time to attend to my self-needs, either to catch up on blog writing or a book or even a few more hours of sleep. Even during drive time, I found useful audiobooks to keep me company so my mind can still learn through traffic. Nurturing your learning and developing your passions is also important, and must be given their own time.
Time Management is composed of planning and priorities. Knowing what is important helps you schedule and move tiles around those activities or those goals. Yet learning how much time you actually have, and what you can do meaningfully with that time, helps for better planning. What matters most, to working moms, is being able to maximize what we have, so we can maximize also what we can give to our work, to our families, and also to ourselves.