Traditionally, our society expects the men to earn the money & the women to stay at home and take care of the family & household. Many question the intentions of women when they opt to enter the workforce instead. Pakistani women work for different reasons. Many work out of necessity, having to do it just to make ends meet. Some do it, because two paychecks is the only way to maintain the lifestyle that they want. Some do it because they like to be economically independent from their husbands. They like the financial security that their jobs provide them. And many do it because they don’t want to be “just housewives” for the rest of their lives and want to prove themselves as competent professionals. They do not want to spend their whole lives doing the thankless (not to mention pay-less!) drudgery that is housework. Whatever the reason for their working, women feel that they are always pressed for time. And no matter how hard they try, they feel that they are still neglecting their homes & families in the process. The result is constant frustration & anxiety.
The million dollar question for most working women is: Is it possible to work a full-time job, raise kids, maintain a home, have a good social life, and also preserve your health and sanity in the process? Impossible though it may sound, but the answer is YES. And no you don’t have to be superwoman to achieve all these things. All you need to do is learn some basic time management skills that will help you stay on top of everything (well at least most of the time anyway!). Time management is not such an issue for men as it is for women. For men the day ends when office ends. Time management is mostly limited to their work related issues and tasks. For women it goes way beyond that. Needless to say, the demands on working women are overwhelming. The work never stops and the day never ends. After coming home after an 8 or 9 hour shift, they must prepare meals, clean the house, do the laundry, help the kids with their homework, bathe them and make sure that they hit the bed early for school. Not to mention, attend to their husband’s whims as well. By the end of it all, they are mentally & physically exhausted. There is simply too much to do and too little time to do it. To make things worse, the media tries to govern all our ideas & perceptions about how things should be. TV & magazine ads unfailingly depict working women as super human creatures. They are always impeccably dressed; they handle both their kids & bosses with an unshakeable confidence; they have smoothly running homes and offices; they manage to put a hot meal on the table within minutes of reaching home and welcome their husbands home with a big smile on their faces. Everything is hunky dory. Sickening isn’t it? It makes you feel like a big, fat failure. Well DONT. Because it’s all fake! In reality, most working women struggle very hard to juggle job, home, children, husband, friends, and family. Constantly fighting the losing battle of trying to meet the needs of your job and your home on a daily basis can lead to a never ending stress, and eventually a total meltdown. For all those of you out there who feel that way, here is a collection of great tips that will help you get your life under control:
1. Analyze & Prioritize
In order to balance work, home and family, it is very important to set priorities. Ask yourself what is more important to you? And then allocate your time, energy and efforts accordingly.
2. Create a Priority based To-Do list
Organize your work by making a list of things that have to be done within the day or week. This list should include both work and home related activities. It should also include important dates and events (e.g. parent teacher meetings, birthdays etc). Prioritize it. Do the tasks with the highest priority first and work down the list. This will help you manage your time in an optimal manner.
3. Use Technology to Stay Organized
You can use personal scheduling softwares which allow you to do things like keeping a calendar, to-do lists, and phone and address books on your computer. Sorting through clutter wastes time.
4. Work Smart NOT Hard
The idea is to get more done in less time. Do the tasks that are important to you at the time when your energy and your enthusiasm are at their highest levels. Vital activities will be done better and quicker.
5. Learn to say “No”
More often than not, we end up spending too much time doing other people favors rather than doing our own things; whether it’s helping a colleague with their work, or picking up our sister’s clothes from the dry cleaners. When someone asks you to do something that you really don’t have time to do, just say so, politely, but firmly. And don’t feel guilty about it.
6. Understand that Multitasking is not always good
It is a big misconception that time management means multitasking. As a result, we try to do several activities at one time. It is true that women are better than men at multi-tasking but it is important to know that multitasking is not always the right approach. Sometimes it is more efficient to focus on one task at a time. That being said, lots of activities can be effectively and safely combined.
7. Don’t be a perfectionist & set reasonable goals
It is not necessary to pay attention to every detail. Be rational and practical about what you can and cannot do in your limited time. Set reasonable & attainable goals for yourself. There is nothing more discouraging than setting goals too high and then not feeling any sense of accomplishment at all. Your home does’nt need to sparkle. Tidy is good enough. Don’t get agitated or anxious if you see a layer of dust on the bookshelf or an overflowing laundry basket. It is not the end of the world. Remember, spending time with your kids is more important than dusting.
8. Group similar tasks together
By grouping as many similar tasks together, you can better manage your time, and you can balance work and family life more efficiently. For instance, try setting aside a block of time each week to run your errands and do your grocery shopping. Or try setting aside an hour or two each morning and afternoon to respond to work e-mails and return phone calls,
9. Avoid distractions
Outside distractions can be a major destroyer of time. Physically block out disturbances as much as possible; shut your door, turn your desk away from passersby, ask people to be quiet etc. Avoid unnecessary meetings. Things that can be dealt with on the phone or on email should be handled that way as one-on-one meetings always consume a lot more time than necessary. Try setting aside a period every day during which you will meet with people and take phone calls; the rest of the time is `private time’ in which you work, uninterrupted. Most people say they accomplish more when they work for a long period of time instead of many smaller, disconnected periods.
10. Try not to Procrastinate
It is human nature to put off unpleasant, routine, or difficult chores. But try to avoid it as much as possible because by deferring a task for the next day, you’re making the next day’s schedule more hectic.
11. Avoid working overtime as much as you can
Although it is sometimes necessary to stay late in the office, working overtime is mostly avoidable. Avoid taking up Multiple Projects at the same time. Get your work done on time. Give up your lunch break if necessary. Tell your employer that it is difficult for you to work extra hours. Speak up for yourself.
12. Opt for Flexi-Time
Lots of organizations offer flexi-time these days, especially to women. Flexi-time is great as it provides women time to deal with personal matters, such as taking children to school, within the working day. Other commitments can be also arranged and fitted around the working day.
13. Limit time frames
Allot time frames for each task. Don’t give any task more time than it really needs as this only leads to unnecessary delay.
14. Allow flexibility in your schedules
Life never works like a well oiled machine. There will be many interruptions, distractions, emergencies and unscheduled activties. Make room for them. And don’t panic if and when they arise.
15. Plan the night before
Plan your outfit for the next day and layout the clothes (including the shoes & accessories) the night before. Have your children get their clothes and backpacks ready for school. Pack the kid’s lunches at night too. This will save a lot of time in the mornings. Plan the next day’s menu as well. Keep the ingredients ready so that you just have to put things together when you get home. Preferably plan the whole week’s menu on the weekend.
16. Make the deep freezer your friend
Learn to deep freeze and store your foodstuff ready for cooking. Opt for ready-to-cook meals (available in the market) on hectic days
17. Learn to delegate chores
Don’t forget that you’re a human being, not a machine. You can’t do everything yourself. Share chores appropriately with your husband and kids (if they’re old enough). This will not only relieve your burden but will also set a good example.
18. Hire Domestic Help
If your family is not so cooperative then hire reliable domestic help. You can have a part-time servant for daily cleaning and other jobs. Pay for help with your own salary if necessary.
19. Clean as you go
The easiest way to clean your house is to clean as you go. It is always easier to get things done when they happen rather than later. By devoting a few minutes here and there to cleaning, you can drastically reduce the amount of time you spend cleaning later.
20. Opt for school buses & vans
They will take half the burden off of you. However, never send your child alone with a driver.
21. Schedule some “Me” Time
Don’t forget to schedule some personal time for yourself, even if it is only for 3o minutes. This time should be meant for an activity that you enjoy and relaxes you (e.g. walking, working out, listening to music, watching TV, reading a book, taking a long bath etc)
22. Let weekends be weekends
Don’t leave all the laundry, cleaning and grocery shopping for the weekend. Your days off should be relaxing so that you can invigorate your self for the next week. Chill and relax. Indulge in activities you can do with your partner, family or friends, such as playing golf, a picnic, watching a good movie etc. Managing time for activities you enjoy will rejuvenate you.
23. Look after your Diet & Health
This will help increase energy levels and will definitely help you manage your time better
24. Keep a low maintenance look
Opt for a hairstyle that requires minimum maintenance. Something that will require no more than a few flicks of the brush and your all set. Go for simple, elegant clothes that don’t crease easily. Limit makeup to lip gloss, mascara and a little blush, all of which can be done within 5 minutes.
25. Begin everyday with prayer
It is said that “A day that begins and ends well starts with prayer”. Ask God for the strength to get everything done. He is sure to listen.
Maintaining a Work life balance is a continuous process that requires good time management. Don’t let time control you. Learn to master it. Remember, the better you manage your time, the better your life will be. There is no need to be superwoman. Your target should be to complete all your tasks in a timely manner without compromising your health and well being. After all, you live only once right?!
If you like the above time management tips then please give us the feedback, and if you have a useful practical tip which isn’t listed here please share with us.
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