Having been a working parent for over 27 years, you would have thought I’d be an expert at juggling working life and parenthood by now. But the truth is, there is truly no right way of managing both at the same time. That said, here are a few tips I’ve learnt over the years to help me manage my time better and make the most of both…
Drop the guilt
Don’t feel guilty for working hard, it doesn’t help anyone. And after all, we’re just trying to provide the best for our families, which sometimes means working hard both at home and at work. In the same breath, don’t feel guilty for downing tools and turning off your work phone, chances are that you have worked more than expected and achieved a lot during your working day. You shouldn’t feel guilty about making time for yourself and for your family – I'm only in the position I'm in due to the relationship I have with my wife.
Everything can be achieved but you cannot achieve everything at once… Choose the moments in your family life that you must attend and make time for those events. If I plan ahead and get important family moments in the calendar, then more often than not, I can attend those events. We have recently created a Family shared calendar (Google) which has allowed both my partner and I to add in those important dates, and therefore help me plan better. At work, the quality of your work will always be more important than the quantity of your work. Work smart with others to complete those tasks, your sanity is worth more than trying to please everyone. It’s better to achieve 80% on time rather than 100% late for you as a parent and within AXA. Create boundaries that separate your working life and home life. Everyone, including your employer, will benefit from this.
Emails and agile working
As a training manager, I challenge co-workers to set up a rule on their Outlook to automatically move any emails they have been copied into to a separate Cc: folder. These emails, I argue, are for your information and not for your direct action and can be read later. This is a brave move and may not suit everyone – I can only say that it’s worked for me and allows me to concentrate on which tasks must be completed rather than spending all my time sifting through those that might require action. AXA empowers us to work where, when and how we choose. Obviously, this depends on individual job roles, infrastructure (IT) locations and personal circumstances, and will not suit everyone, however, asking for flexible working and planning your time will allow better results at work and better home life.
I feel that I have never really achieved the perfect goal of work life balance. But learning from your experiences and doing your best is always going to be the answer in the end.
Martin Furminger, proud parent and Global Training Manager at AXA