We know policies like flexible scheduling, working remotely, maternity/adoption leave, and paid time off contribute to women being able to effectively integrate work with the rest of their lives, which is why we collect company reviews for these categories (and more) at InHerSight.
These employee benefits afford us arguably the most precious of resources: time. How we use the time we have can make all the difference when we’re striving for successful work-life balance, or, as we like to call it, work-life integration.
Here are three strategies for making the most of every moment, being more efficient, and working smarter, brought to you by the women using them to make work work.
Go with your flow
Not every hour of the day, day of the week, or week of the month is created equal when it comes to being productive and delivering results. Understanding the times when you’re most efficient at any given task can be incredibly valuable, when you’re trying to juggle and sequence a schedule and list of to-dos.
“I think that what has helped me tremendously is being mindful that not all energies are equal throughout the day,” said Ami Gadhia, Director, American Academy of Pediatrics, Federal Advocacy and Regulatory Affairs. “There are blocks of time that are good for writing, sending emails, making calls, and for meetings. I try to be mindful of harnessing the energy that’s available to me at the time.”
If you’re struggling to be creative first thing in the morning, perhaps that’s not the right time of day for you to focus on creative tasks. Try switching it up to see if you are more inspired in the afternoon.
Tip: Use this downloadable productivity log to track energy, focus, and motivation to determine when you’re most productive throughout the day. Look for patterns and, when possible, schedule high-priority tasks during times when you have more energy.
Don’t confuse "to-do" for "today"
Sometimes everything on our to-do list seems important and immediate. When we dig a little deeper we realize that some things are more important than others, and certainly not all are urgent.
Taking a true assessment of what’s urgent and important will help you prioritize. The Eisenhower Matrix is a great tool that uses 4 quadrants to help you determine what should be done now, what can wait, and what you should cross off your list all together.
“The best way for me to prioritize my work is to start by prioritizing my life,” said Aniek Guindon, Specialty District Sales Manager at Eli Lilly and Company. “As a busy working mom, prioritization helps me get more done in less time, and actually get the fulfillment I need personally and professionally before I turn my attention to making chicken nuggets and giving bubble baths.”
Tip: Give this worksheet a try and remember to include work AND life tasks since you want to integrate both into your priorities. When you know what really matters to you and what will have the greatest impact it’s easier to know which items on your to-do list are going to have the greatest return.
Bonus: Getting a grip on your to-do list reduces stress which makes you even more productive.
Stay focused but flexible
Since our work and life commitments often ebb and flow, planning is paramount.
“We review schedules every Sunday night at our family meeting to determine if we need to shift responsibilities for the week,” said Sonja Neiger, Manager, Organizational Development, Novo Nordisk. “If my work week is going to be crazy I let my family know and we determine where we need to temporarily adjust.”
Maybe you need to rely more heavily on take-out, or the kids have to grab a ride with a friend to baseball practice this week. Allowing and planning for those shifts takes effective communication and cooperation. When everything shifts again next week, you’ll be the one driving their friends to practice!
Of course, these strategies are even more effective when coupled with supportive work policies like flexible scheduling and the ability to work from home. If you’re looking, here’s a list of 20 companies where women are most satisfied with their ability to telecommute to get you started.
Find out which companies offer the benefits you care most about at inhersight.com. While you’re there, anonymously rate your own company and let other women know the inside scoop!
Catherine Robinson is a certified coach, leadership consultant, and champion of women in the workplace. Ready to find your path? Connect with her at Robinson Leadership Coaching .