Being a mom is probably the toughest job there is. First, there is no handbook (and no… “Tiger Mom” and other such tomes of parenting do not count).
My daughter (who I refer to as “shorty” even though she is now in double digits and stands at 5′ 4″ already) needs me for… a ton. Between schoolwork, sports, family events, play dates, pre-puberty (I could write an entire post about that) and everything else it feels like there is NO time for ME! I know. I know. I should be one of those moms who delights in all things pre-pubescent girl child (and some days I really do) but when do I take of the things I need to do for me?
Where am I going with this? Oh yes! Your team needs you!
There seems to be a never ending stream of emails, phone calls and knocks on your door. I don’t know about you but whenever I would finally make it back to my desk from meeting number 256 of the day, I just wanted the ability to sit down and concentrate on the deliverables I now had from those darn meetings. But there was inevitably a knock at the door. Someone on my team needed me. To review something, write something, sign something or talk to them about something. And I believe in paying attention to my team so I tended to stop what I am doing and (oh no!) attend to them. Sound familiar? What’s a manager – who also has to produce – to do?
I discovered a few strategies that, when I am in my right mind, work for me.
Now before you gasp and in case your mind immediately flashes to your grad school professor, think about. What if your team knew there were certain hours every week JUST for them? What if they trusted that they could get their own work done because there are a certain number of hours you commit to spending with them on their needs? It might be a leap of faith (and believe me I was scared to introduce it and MORE afraid to maintain it) but it works! If you’ve heard the expression you have to teach people how to treat you then you will understand why I am such an advocate for office hours. Still not a believer? Then head on over to Bill Taylors’ post on hbr.com for more information.
Do Not Disturb
Now THIS has been a game changer. Rather than having folks interrupt because your door is open and you want to help but you end up feeling stressed, unaccomplished and (slightly) resentful, just put a sign up with the amount of time you need for yourself. 95% of the time, folks will come back later and what they wanted could wait. Doing this means you don’t come across as rushed, impatient and bothered and you don’t feel imposed on (and guilty for the feeling of imposition) after the interruption. Need 30 minutes? An hour? Put a “do not disturb” sign up and then get to work!
Find Your Sweet Spot and Work It
I work best between 4:30 am and 8:30 am. During that time I pack in a lot (starting with exercise and ending with drop-off most days). By the time I drop my bag on my desk, I have already been awake and bustling about for 4 hours. Whew! I need a break! BUT since realizing this (and accepting it) I decided to find another sweet spot in my working day. At least 2 times a week I block that time and do something creative. That’s when I go for a walk with Evernote open on my phone and dictate new ideas. That’s the time I use to find inspiration for a project I am working on – whether its reading articles, a blurb from a book, Pinterest (yes you CAN use it to inspire your work) or even tackle something hard. Admittedly, it works best when you combine it with the “do not disturb” strategy. On my calendar it says “DO NOT SCHEDULE ANY MEETINGS” or “KISHSHANA PROJECT TIME”. Most of the time, no one will mess with it.
So what’s the bottom line? In order to be your best self for others, you have to make time for you. And I get it; doing that at work is tough. But jump in there. Take a risk. Try something new. Trust me. Your team will thank you for it.