Any mom with a high power job will tell you: if they don’t get their rest, their exercise, and quality time alone, it’s no more Mrs. Nice Gal. But how do we make that time with all the deadlines, meetings, and pressures of the workday, plus the daily demands of families? As more and more women enter top positions in the business world, the business world itself is changing. We examined how these female decision-makers have gotten creative with their time, energy, and effort so that they can afford to take that much-deserved time for themselves. Here are some effective strategies:
Identify when you need alone time
This is the first and most important thing we just don’t do. The symptoms are obvious: sore neck, diminished patience, and a lack of focus, just to name a few. Take a breath when you get here. Tell yourself you cannot do it all at this very moment and it will all be there when you get back. Then take a look at your calendar and block some time out for something calming, fun, or energizing.
Don’t mistake exercise for alone time
Staying healthy and energized is crucial, but it’s not the same as alone time. Alone time is for enjoyment, unwinding, learning, and relaxing. The objectives are very different and even if alone time only happens for an hour a week, it’s about feeding your soul.
Shift your schedule according to your own productive clock
Short bursts of concentrated attention are the quickest way from A to B. Give up on multi-tasking, and practice immersive focus during your peak windows of productivity. That way, your highest priorities in terms of work are met first, and you can allocate other lesser tasks among your team. Some moms get crafty by taking calls from overseas partners very early in the morning, then they have time for a leisurely breakfast with the family before school. You are the boss, so you determine the clock.
This is a key piece of creative scheduling, a day every week, usually Thursday or Friday, where you have no set tasks, where you can pick up the work-related loose ends, but you might also schedule yourself a massage or take a long walk and listen to your favorite music in the middle of the day.
This is a practice that has caught on like wildfire among management professionals. If you don’t have the luxury of the 30-minute walk, shut the door, sit in a comfortable chair, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. Even after just three minutes, you will feel your body relax, and your mind will follow. There are some great apps that can walk you through it in the beginning. This counts as alone time.
Most executive moms hire a cleaning service, but there are all kinds of other domestic details that hog up time and don’t require your expert hands. For example, get pre-prepared meals delivered to your door, so you are still involved in the food but not julienning the carrots for 30 minutes. If you don’t have a personal assistant, employ Task Rabbit for pesky things like dry-cleaning, art hanging, furniture moving, or other one-off chores. If you have teens, they can also pick up the slack as part of their weekly responsibilities.
There are certainly moms in your area in the same boat, and having a group where you can bounce ideas, trade off with school pick ups and sleepovers, and call if there is an urgent need– this kind of networking is sanity itself. It may take a little time, and your children will often determine who your friends are by proxy, but there are plenty of online networks and communities too.
Trade alone time blocks with your partner
Utilize that healthy give and take with your significant other, even if you have to schedule out alone time a few weeks in advance. It’s a basic generosity that when reciprocated, you will appreciate it that much more. Get into a rhythm of knowing who is in more need of that break and be flexible. As long as both of you are sensitive to the other’s stresses, you will work better as a team.
Line your kids’ activities up with your alone time
If they have soccer or dance, that’s when you nip over to the café for a latte and a good book. Check out an art gallery, or even go window shopping. Feed your brain a little while they are immersed in their after school projects.
When you can squeeze it in, take an entire day just for yourself. Go wine tasting, shopping, or do a yoga retreat or a day spa. Spoil yourself rotten and shut off your phone. Really, you deserve it. The world will not fall apart.
As mothers, we are programmed, partly by nature and partly by nurture, to fret over our families and feel guilty going off on our own. Now we also fret over our companies at the same time. We don’t take that time because we think it’s shirking responsibility or we won’t enjoy ourselves because we’ll just worry the whole time.
However, when we do allow ourselves that time, we find we are much more on it at work, we are more present and patient with our families, and we have something to talk about with our friends. Really taking that time does everyone a favor. Especially you.