How to confidently balance work and life – 7 ideas that really work

Our guest writer, Sherry Bevan, speaker, coach and author specialises in women’s career confidence, leadership and work-life balance. She is regularly invited to speak on Sky News and the BBC on these topics. In this guest post she provides tips on how to confidently balance work and life – 7 ideas that really work.

“It is possible to get more done when you have no time. You don’t have to feel overwhelmed or drowning in information overload. When you follow these simple suggestions, you will have more energy and be more focussed in the time you do have available” says Sherry.

1 – Focus on one thing at a time

You might think you can multi-task because you can answer a client call, while unloading the dishwasher, shooing the cat off the kitchen worktop and noticing that the basil on the window sill needs watering.

But …. just as your client gets to the crucial part in the conversation, you stop still. You stop still, cutlery in hand, cat rubbing against your legs, because you have started to focus, properly focus, on what your client is saying. Because you can only focus on one thing at a time.

Yes you can walk down the street, chat to your toddler, notice the car driving too fast, and smile at your neighbour … all at the same time. However to focus on any one of those, for example the car mounts the pavement and you spring into avoidance action, your focus on the other activities will pause. Because you can only focus on one thing at a time.

You get more done when you focus on one thing at a time. It’s a myth that we can multi-task. Not even computers multi-task. They process tasks so quickly that it looks like they’re multi-tasking but they’re not.

2 – The three most important things

If you are limited with the time you have available, be very clear before you start what the three most important things are. Be even clearer on the ONE most important thing.

Take 5 minutes before you go to bed to write down the three most important things you need to do. Then when you get to those precious 30 minutes, you don’t have to waste more than a few seconds reading your list of the three most important things. Keep a pack of post-it notes on your desk just for this.

3 – Set a timer

If you only have 20 minutes, or 30 minutes, or an hour, close down ALL your social media – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc, set the timer (use TomatoTimer) and GET IT DONE.

If your ONE most important thing is to reach out to former work colleagues, challenge yourself and see how many you can connect within just 20 minutes (or however long you have).

4 – Get support from others

Set aside a specific time every day to ‘do your thing’. If you are a mum going back to work after a career break and you have your children all day, you may find it difficult to get ‘spare’ time during the day.

Enrol your partner, family and friends. Share your plan and tell them that this will be the time every day that you are going to devote to job applications or marketing activities or whatever it is you need to do.

Get their support. You are doing it for your family’s future. It IS important. It IS an investment.

5 – Don’t overcommit

We often overestimate how much we can get done in a day or underestimate how long a particular project will take.

Instead break down big projects into small tasks. It’s much easier to get started on a small task than a big project. Plus say ‘no’ more often.

6 – Self-love

When you want to get more done in 24 hours, do you simply work harder? Or try and do two or three (or even four) things at the same time? This is a sure fire way to burn out and collapse in a heap at the end of the day.

Instead, give yourself permission to be kind to yourself. Many of us don’t get enough quality sleep (sometimes unavoidable if you have young children) or take enough time for ourselves.

Self-love is about showing yourself compassion. Forgive yourself for mistakes. Don’t try to be perfect. Good enough really is good enough.

7 – Declutter your brain

If you have too much clutter in your brain – notes from school about World Book Day, reminders about dry-cleaning, bills to pay – your brain slows down. Your creativity dries up. Decision-making stutters. Your brain is overloaded.

What you need is a good declutter.

Brainstorm all those reminders and notes in your head. Get them out of your head and onto paper. Stop trying to remember everything. That is what pen and paper is for. When your pre-frontal cortex in your brain is overloaded, it just can’t function efficiently.

Create a list or a mindmap. Try an application such as Trello or Evernote. Whichever approach you prefer, get it out of your head and declutter your brain.

Click here to visit Sherry Bevan’s website or you can contact Sherry directly at sherry@sherrybevan.co.uk

Developement, Time management, Working mums, Wellbeing

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