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Women Balancing Work and Life

by Linda L.
(USA)

How do we as women in leadership balance our demanding jobs, familial relationships, and other obligations and still find time to pursue our interests? The women that I know seem to always put the needs of others before theirs and often their professional ties and friendships are given the littlest of attention. There are conferences that I would like to attend, socials that I cannot find time for, and classes that I would love to take. I haven't had lunch with my law school buddies in several months and they all work in the same town. Does anybody have any tips?

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Nov 02, 2009
Know yourself, your priorities, and be ready to commit
by: Marja Botha van Doorn

Effective time management is a skill or maybe an art.;-) And from experience I know that it takes effort and commitment to make it work for you.

It helps to know yourself. Are you a person that thrives under pressure or does a lot of pressure paralyze you?

Strategies include:

Know what you want from your time
The proven way to do it is to set goals, and to set them SMART. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Responsible, Timed) and for women I like SMERTIE (Specific, Measurable, Evidence, Responsibility, Timed, Inspiring, Emotion)

Learn to see the difference between urgent and important
The important tasks are those that lead you to your goals, and give you most of the long term progress and reward. Those tasks are very often not urgent. Many urgent tasks are not really important.

Know and respect your priorities
Aim to do the important things first. Remember the 80-20 rule: 80 percent of reward comes from 20 percent of effort. One of the aims of time management tips is to help you refocus your mind to give more attention and time to those most important 20 percent.

Plan your actions for achieving your goals
Convert your goals into a system of specific actions to be done. The first significant point of planning is the planning process itself. It is a known fact, and you will see it for yourself, that the planning process stimulates your brain to come up with new efficient solutions. It programs your subconscious mind to search for shortcuts. It makes you much more prepared for each specific action.
Besides, planning will help you to identify potential conflicts and crises, minimizing the number of urgent tasks. Planning can also significantly lower the time spent on routine maintenance tasks, leaving you more time on what you like to do or for what you think is important for your long term success. Also remember that planning and related time management tips work best when you review your plans regularly.

Schedule time for your tasks
Your concentration can be easily lost in the sea of many boring or less important things waiting to be done in your head. Undone things circulating in your mind are also a big drain of your mental energy. Most often, there is no way to get those things out of your mind except of either doing them or scheduling them in a trustable system, convincing your mind that they will be done in due time.

Know how you spend your time
Keep a time log during some time interval, like a week, and then analyze it to see where your time goes. For example, what percentage of time you spend on urgent and on important activities, what people you devote most time to. You are likely to be surprised, and you will see much better if you could use more time management tips. This is also an effective way to get a feedback on how well time management tips and techniques are working for you, and where you need some adjustments.

Hope that helps a bit!

Good luck and have a super weekend!

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