Realizing we can't "have it all" is a pretty depressing discovery, but there are ways to achieve as much of a balance as possible when it comes to juggling business and family.
By Amy Noble (Guest Editor, Women 2.0)
As a young woman who went to an all-girls school, I spent my teenage years being reliably informed that “when I grew up”, I could have it all. I could be a doctor, a lawyer or an astronaut and still have time for my family.
Much as I appreciate the sentiment, this simply isn’t true.
It wasn’t then, it’s not now and probably never will be. It’s not surprising, then, that Teresa Taylor, former Fortune 200 COO, speaker, author, active board member, wife and mom, also tells us that ‘balance’ does not exist. What may be more surprising is her suggestion to bring your kids to work for an hour or two on a Sunday if you want to get ahead.
For those of us who work for ourselves but who also have (or want to have) children and to be able to spend quality time to spend with them, it’s refreshing to hear a successful woman make practical suggestions about how working moms can manage. One of Fortune magazine’s Highest Paid Women, Teresa boldly debunks a whole host of myths and suggests four ways to help you balance babies and business.
Assign Time Limits
This applies to work and home. Set yourself a time limit for a project at work and then stop. Do not keep modifying it or changing small details… you haven’t got time for them. By being strict with yourself, you’ll not only learn to work more efficiently but you’ll also become far more realistic about your timings and this makes for a healthy business model. This applies as much at home as it does at work, whether you’re cleaning, wrapping Christmas presents or helping with homework. Stick to your deadlines and you’ll fit in more than you thought possible.
Use One Calendar
You think you need two calendars: one for home and one for the work. Mistake. You’ll find it’s far better to put everything in one calendar that allows you to view your whole life and just be one person. You won’t double book yourself and you’ll quickly learn to integrate your work and personal time.
Think of it like layers of clothing. Wearing layers of clothing gives us options. We can add something if we need to, or we can take something away, allowing us to adapt to changing weather. The same theory applies to the office or your home: you never know how your day will turn out, so be prepared to adapt at short notice.
They are your secret weapon. Work weekends, either at home or slip into the office. It is OK to take the kids to the office when nobody else is there! You’ll be surprised how much they will find to do given how quickly they're bored at home. Set them up at a computer with a game, get them drawing or writing, have them help in whatever ways they'll enjoy… and see just how much more you can get done.
Unconventional? Perhaps, but then conventional just isn’t cutting it for a lot of us. Teresa’s new book The Balance Myth: Rethinking Work/Life Success, which hit bookshelves in April, provides other unique yet palpable solutions for women looking to simplify the complexities of a modern professional lifestyle, from parenting and married life to travel, friendship, business and more.
Maybe by focusing on the small steps, we can achieve more of a balance than conventional approaches have allowed thus far. With the help and support of partners, friends and family, along with self-discipline, creativity and sheer hard work, there’s no reason why we can’t succeed as mothers and as entrepreneurs. We’ll just have to buy one hell of a calendar.
Women 2.0 readers: Do you have other strategies for achieving work/life balance?
About the guest blogger: Amy is a freelance editor and writer based in London. She has also worked as a scriptwriter for a number of London-based video production companies and as a translator from French to English. She studied Modern Languages at Queens’ College, Cambridge and is currently studying for a Diploma in Translation at the London Metropolitan University. Photo credit: Jessica Lucia via Flickr.