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Ask The Expert : How can I regain control both at work and at home?

Question
I am a 35 year old manager who has recently returned to work following my first maternity leave. Work seems much more hectic than before, and thrown into the mix is the fact that I will be moving house next month.  Relationships at work and at home are currently ‘tricky’ – and I worry about what my staff think of me. I feel like a ‘Jack of all trades’ but a ‘master of none’ – never really finishing one thing before I have to start another.   Can you offer any tips on how I can regain some control?

Answer
Time management is one of the greatest skills within life and personal management. Think and plan on paper!  Begin now to plan every day, week and month on paper. You’ll be amazed at how much more productive you will become.

List all your live projects (at work + at home), and those that are important to you in the future. Order these into priority and sequence and work towards the future logically. Don’t worry unnecessarily about seemingly impossible tasks – but take bite sized chunks off these each day. See yourself taking control of the phased completion of your priorities, and take control of scheduling time for yourself too!

Two key elements here are to: prioritise effectively and review your list regularly. Apply an 80/20 rule to everything. You could prioritise through personal analysis of  what to give 80% effort to and what to apply a lesser 20% to, or include your evaluation as to what will supply an 80% rather than a 20% return for your efforts. Make your decisions and start immediately. Continually grade your results and move forward on your priorities – but for this don’t rely solely on your own judgement. Ask for the feedback of those around you – involve them, value them, and trust them.

Constantly consider and nurture your relationships at home and at work. Ask yourself: “If I wasn’t working so hard, what else would I be doing?” Write yourself a list of everything and everybody that make you feel good. Remind yourself how these people and activities make you feel, and then pick out one (or more) family activity and plan a date to do it. Convince yourself that you have time for more than packing boxes and changing nappies – and enjoy that time.

Involve yourself in open feedback sessions at work with your team. Listen to others’ perceptions of your management style and impact, and act on advice as appropriate. You could also use available awareness tools, like the HSE Management Competency Indicator Tool https://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/mcit.pdf  Show empathy to your staff, be aware of your impact on them. Remember that they had to manage their workload without you for a period of time – so use effective delegation, showing that you trust them, and this will increase perceptions of control for everyone.

A primary rule to remember is that: ‘there will never be enough time to do everything you have (or think you have) to do.’ Make sure you take a short time to yourself every day. Sit quietly where you can’t be disturbed, relax and think everything through. Remember that you are essentially in control of: what you do; when + how you do it; as well as – what you are actively giving less emphasis or time to, and the key here is to be happy with your decision – DON’T ‘beat yourself up about it!’

This article’s expert was Dot Gourlay

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