WORKING 9 – 5 THAT’S NOT THE WAY TO MAKE A LIVING
We hear it every day of the week and it’s a sad fact that in today’s whirlwind society more and more of us are feeling time poor. Studies by The Australian Work and Life Index (AWALI) show that Australia has fallen behind the rest of the developed world in trying to achieve a healthy work-life balance. In its recent survey it shows that certain groups are more affected than others by “work-life interference” and a significant group in this survey was us parents.
Over the last 3 years my life has changed dramatically with the arrival of my two “bundles of joy”and I’m now a proud Daddy to Jack and Matilda. My world has been turned upside down but I’m extremely fortunate to have a boss who is also a parent and more importantly understands that the working environment has evolved and no longer rests in the dark ages. At Acquire our commercial relationships are based on trust and this extends all the way through to the way that we work as a team and how we manage our business and our time. From day one with Acquire, Wednesdays have always been a shorter day with “Family Time” permanently stamped in the work calendar at 4pm and I also have the flexibility to work from home one day a week. Now for some parents flexible working is invaluable and is the only way that they can survive but for others working from home can be a double edged sword and be detrimental on work-life balance – to me it’s all about trust, structure, ownership, execution and delivery.
Set Limitations And Be Realistic
Use the support mechanisms in place they’re there for a reason and leaning on them doesn’t make you any less efficient or effective, quite the opposite. Overcoming the challenges of being a working parent is not something you should do alone. Here at Acquire I feel lucky to be working in a supportive environment that embraces my role as a parent and as a senior member of the team.
There are three main things that all working parents have in common.
- A lack of time.
- The feeling that we are neglecting someone or something – work, our kids or our own health.
- An overriding feeling, to which we are powerless, of both of the above!
It’s a scientific fact that we can’t add anymore hours to the day and it’s often near impossible to shrink our to do lists. But what we can do is choose where we allocate the hours that we have got and to who and what we give priority. The ownership of this power is in our hands we are our own “superheroes” and we can make the call to who and what benefits from it.
Engage With Your Manager
It’s easy to get tied up with life and lose focus on how good we are and how well we do our job. Make sure that your achievements at work are recognised and your manager knows how hard you are working as it’s quite often overlooked. For example if you’re leading a project make sure that you check in with your manager at key stages and update them with your successes and next steps. Your updates don’t have to contain any real news. But in sending it, you’ll look competent, communicative, and on top of things which are all attributes of a top performer.
Healthy Body Healthy Mind
It’s a fact that regular exercise is key to both output and resilience in the workplace. Most of us don’t have time to hit the gym every day but we can all take 10 minutes to focus on our own health – high intensity cardio and strength training is a very effective and efficient way to increase your heart and burn some extra calories – try it and just see how much better you feel and clearer your head is.
Always Be Ready To Impress
What’s your elevator pitch? It’s inevitable at some point, and usually when you’re least expecting it, that you’ll be faced with the opportunity to give a soundbite of your success to a senior manager or client. Make sure that you have a robust, succinct and well rehearsed “victory speech” with which to stamp your importance to the business and impress your audience.
Get Back Some “Me Time”
Take a deep breath and say no to a client event, internal workshop or school activity. Grab your diary and prioritise your time and commitments, delegate to a colleague (ask them to attend the seminar, tell them it’s part of their development plan!) and politely decline from helping out with the next school activity. Now you’ve clawed back some time for yourself, make sure you use it for you.
Back in the good old days, families would sit down at the table together and have dinner. If you’re anything like me, you arrive home late, the children are starving and so are you, and you’ve still got emails to get through as well as bath time and bed (thankfully my two are both under 3 so I’m not even at the homework stage yet!). Sadly more often than not we take the easy route and order a takeaway and family members do their own thing. We need to stand strong and reclaim family time as it’s important in more ways than one.
Keep Your Personal Brand Strong
We all want to maximise our careers and in today’s world whether we like it or not LinkedIn is a big part of your professional image. It’s what your clients, prospective employers and us recruiters see first. Make sure you keep your profile up to date and relevant – add recent projects and key achievements and connect with the people you are engaging with to build your network and strengthen your brand.
Being a working parent is a both a privilege as well as a challenge! It’s complex and ever changing and will always throw a curveball at you when you least expect it. But if you take a step back once in a while to focus your time and energy appropriately you’ll feel more confident, capable and in control.
From my observations there’s too often a feeling of obligation for us working parents and it’s a precise one, the feeling that we should carry on at work as we did before having children, while “parenting” as if we did not have a job. But do we really need to pigeonhole ourselves to be successful? In a world of ballerinas be Wonder Woman (Super Man)!
(photo courtesy of Matilda Webb aka my little Wonder Woman)