I am too busy. Sometimes I feel like I am totally missing in action in my own life and it annoys the hell out of me! Work seems to be coming out of my ears, racing round the corner, and oh look, there it is waiting outside the door for me when I thought I had escaped it.
I cannot recall the last time I stopped for lunch. Almost without fail I work through it every day. I do not stop for morning or afternoon tea. I often work evenings once my daughter has gone to bed. I generally get back on the computer and can work until 11-11.30 pm. Go to bed. Get up. Repeat. No relaxation whatsoever. Do not ask me that last time I did any exercise (that was pre-arrival of the little girl). I feel like I am not doing anything at all for me.
Now, many of you out there could say that this is self-inflicted. And there is probably much truth in that. My dear other half is always saying that workplaces even, without intent, will take advantage of people. There is always more work that can be done. I should say that I am in a senior role, in the core of senior leadership at a large organisation.
I have this personal manifesto that if I complain about something three times I have to either do something about it or shut up! Do not tell anyone, but I think the count on this is higher than three. So rant over, time for me to take action or be quiet.
How am I overcoming this?
I have paused and reflected, and think that ever since I went back to full time work something has not felt quite right. Looking back, I think I was incredibly lucky. The luxury of nine months off when she was born, and then for the next three months she was at home with Dad (we shared the 12 months of maternity leave). I returned to work initially part time at three days per week with a progressive time increase, not returning to full time work until she turned two.
With this, I managed to breast feed until she was 16 months old. She had homemade food and life did not seem out of control.
I realised I would go back to four days per week in a heartbeat. There is something about that additional day that on one hand helps me not get so drawn into work, and more importantly gets me that wonderful, will never occur again time with my little girl. And then if I were being greedy I would want three days a week, one to spend with my little girl and one just to myself.
So things had to be changed for me to have this quality time with my family and for myself.
Leave at 5pm, no excuses
One of the things I have done without fail since returning to work is that I do leave at 5 pm. Being late means I leave somewhere between then and 5.30 pm at the very latest. In the past I would seldom leave work before 7 pm, and often worked many evenings and weekends. My daughter does come first now. She has my undivided attention from the moment I leave work until she goes to bed. And now I am starting to make more tangible changes.
Take time off
Due to quite a large amount of accrued annual leave, I am in a position to take a day off every fortnight for the second half of this year, and still have a reasonable amount of leave left. A three-day weekend every other week is utter bliss! I think this will really assist with me not taking work home, as I will turn on my out of office auto-reply email on a Friday night and hopefully actively switch off from work until I return on a Tuesday. I will probably wish that it were every week! So that will be my working life for the rest of the year, nine days a fortnight.
I have met with an executive coach because one of the aspects I want to focus on is to ensure I am delegating as effectively as I could. I do not think I am bad at this, but I think I could do with some improvement in this regard. I am always a person to take on responsibility, forgetting I have a great team to assist me, and that my role is to lead. Albeit I personally think good leadership includes some doing. So some work on my lead/do balance is something I have initiated and I think this will help also. The more responsibility you can share, the more you share the load.
Find time for exercise
The non-existent exercise? Well that was a slightly veiled truth, I do have the good fortune of being in a position to walk to work, and I do – rain or shine. But that is all I have done. However, thanks to the new iPhone 6 I may have found a new incentive. This phone tracks the number of steps I take each day. This is both good and bad. I am not walking as much as I thought, and can see how little I do on the weekend. It is making me think about the extra exercise I should be doing, focussing on the weekend first. Sounds like a great excuse to get out and about more with our little girl.
Hopefully, pretty soon I will get to spend more time with my wee crazy!
If you are in a similar boat to the one I am in, looking to make a change, the only person that can do it is you. I found so much support when talking to other working mums. That is how I would start to initiate the change — say it out loud. You might be surprised by the resonance of response.
What changes did you have to make?