For working moms, it is not so much time management, but focus management, notes Mansi Zaveri, founder and CEO, kidsstoppress, a parenting platform.
Nine years ago when I gave up my 9-5 job and started Kidsstoppress as a new mom, I knew what I was getting myself into.
Pursuing my passion and running my own business was a great impetus, but it came with the long hours of work and overlapping schedules.
Frankly, the concept of a perfect work-life balance is Utopian and the chase towards that is futile.
It is about taking things in your stride, going with the flow while having the final goal clear in your mind. You will have to make compromises along the way, no doubt.
There are many times I have missed an evening badminton game with my daughters and brainstormed with clients and my team instead. At the end of the day, it is about picking your battles.
These tips that I have tried and tested along my entrepreneurial journey will be useful to you, I hope.
So you don't make the same mistakes I did back then!
1. Ditch the guilt
The decision to be a working mom comes after a lot of deliberation and thinking, am sure.
Don't take it lightly and put yourself down on the pedestal.
Whatever society may say, a working mom is NOT 'a mom who neglects' or 'a mom who doesn't give it her all'.
Ignore the naysayers, ditch the guilt and instead focus on the present.
Remember, a happy mom raises a happy child.
2. Remember to unplug
With the WFH and hybrid work concept, we have let work enter our dining and even bedrooms.
With most apps and coordination that allow work to be done through the phone, you really don't realise when you stop work.
You will find yourself texting your team even when watching a movie with the kids.
Learn to unplug and be 'unavailable' for a while, especially when you are with the family.
Your kids need that attention from you plus it helps you breathe better and not think of work 24*7.
3. Learn to say NO
Frankly, it is not so much time management, but focus management.
There are so many tasks, devices and things out there, waiting to grab our attention.
What we use it for, defines us at the end of the day.
Learn to say NO to inessential tasks so you don't feel overwhelmed at the end of the day.
Saying NO upfront is better than taking it up and not giving it your 100% or allowing it to mess with your other tasks at hand.
Pro tip: Read Essentialism by Gregory McKeown and you will know why this point is so valuable!
4. Plan your day ahead
This sounds like the easiest advice. But trust me, over years I have grown to plan every single hour of my day and it has helped me tremendously.
All my work commitments are put on my calendar and my team has access to it.
So I know I am not disturbed when I am brainstorming new ideas or finishing my audit reports.
Block your time for the must-DOs and ensure you give it the exact time it needs. Not more.
This way you will learn to wrap it quickly as well putting it down on your calendar makes you less likely to forget it.
5. Give in to technology
Technology is designed to make lives simpler. Accept it and learn to embrace it.
My day is made simpler and more efficient by a number of apps I swear by.
You will be surprised at the amount of time you save with these apps.
6. Make YOU the priority
For a lot of moms in our country, being a working parent means working at the office from 9-5 and then coming home and switching on to the 'mom mode' immediately and attending to the kids.
It is incredibly difficult if you have to be the "giver" at all times in the day.
Set specific time slots in the day where you will be doing things that help improve your mental and physical state of mind.
It can be as simple as meditating in silence, going for a walk or pursuing a hobby you always wanted to.
The clarity that this downtime gives you will help you plan and execute your day in a more efficient manner.
7. Done is better than perfect
Whether it is at work or in your own business, there are a number of things you would want to try new or for the first time. But citing time and other commitment issues, we tend to put it off.
What it does is, sit in the corner of our minds and remind us constantly about not having given it a try.
Remember, done is better than perfect. Be it that extra course you wanted to pursue, a certification at work you wanted to take or a new line of work you wanted to try- go for it!
8. Say hello to the priority matrix
Picture this: There are a number of pressing to-do tasks and ones that keep coming on new too.
How do we decide what to take up first and see it through to the finish line?
I use the priority matrix concept (a structured approach at prioritising tasks) that helps me put each task into one of the 4 buckets in the matrix and plan my day ahead better.
This one tool has helped me manage my team better and focus on things that actually need MY attention.
9. Be clear on your goals
Whether it is continuing in your current job in the same department or switching departments or jobs or even starting something on your own, have a clear goal both personally and professionally.
Address the issues you have at present, envision where you want to be 6 months or 1 year down the lane and action accordingly.
You will see a lot of things fall in place automatically.
10. Hear it from the fraternity
Nine years ago, when I started Kidsstoppress, it would have benefitted me a lot if I had a mentor or a guide to walk me through these steps.
Steps to pursue my passion, steps to reclaim my life at the end of the day, steps to raise my babies and business at the same time.
It helps having other entrepreneurs share their learnings and experiences along with the inputs of other market leaders who have been there and done that.
At the end of the day, remember parents, you are the best your child can have.
There will be some perfect days and there will be many not-so-perfect days.
The key is to learn from each of them daily and surge ahead towards inner satisfaction and happiness. That's all that counts!