I’m going to take you back a few years; I’m working in London trying to forge myself a career in a very male dominated industry and I thought part of this was to be seen as completely dedicated, hardworking and for my sins, work all hours just to prove it! I did ok, I felt like a trooper and it made me feel important… “I can’t possibly leave, I’ve got so much on”, but in reality it didn’t help my cause… my boss always left early so never saw it anyway!!! That didn’t matter though, I thought others did and I didn’t really have any commitments outside work so what was the harm.
Well fast forward a few years and here I am, a working mum that DOES have commitments
Lessons I’ve learned on how I can do it all:
Lesson No.1 – I can get more done in a day
Seriously how much time did I waste, well, doing nothing obviously! It’s about good time management and being focused, I had to stop I’ll just make a quick coffee and then get started mentality and just crack on. Did I really need to stop and chat with Sue in accounts about Saturday night viewing (ok well maybe I did, but I could have stuck to Strictly instead of moving on to X Factor too!) a quick hello would do just fine. Once I was focused and generally more strict with myself about knuckling down, I found that by home time I had got everything done and actually felt much more productive than ever before.
Lesson No. 2 – Things can wait
As I said above, I had got everything done that I needed to and there are some things that really can wait until the morning. What I had done previously was action emails my boss had written in the subject, one for the morning, thinking oh I’ll just do it now quickly… or what would actually happen was I would half start it, then have to start over again in the morning anyway!! So if it says, not urgent or one for tomorrow, that is exactly what it is and it CAN wait… having a decent work-life balance can’t.
Lesson No.3 – No one will tell me to go home
If the boss is still working, they are not going to tell me to go home and for a number of reasons: a) they might not have noticed the time as they are working too b) they expect me to manage my own timekeeping and c) why would they if I am still working off the clock!?!?! But I needed to remember, I have been working harder and more efficiently because I have to leave on time, people are depending on me to be elsewhere!
The biggest part of this lesson is though… I never got brownie points for staying late, so I won’t get overlooked because I’m leaving when I should, especially as I am achieving more anyway!! My conscience is clear, my work is done and it is ok to leave, I do not need permission.
Lesson No. 4 – I have a life and it doesn’t start at 9.30pm!
Ok, I still have to do a different kind of work when I leave the office, but it involves doing it with the very people that I work for in the first place, my family!
Of course there are times I work a little late, there has to be, things do come up, but equally my boss understands that I can’t start a meeting at 5.00pm. There is always room to be a bit flexible but staying late is a rarity now and not the norm. If I can work smart and leave happy, then anyone can!