The complex: I am a very productive person at work, but by the time I get home I am too tired and busy with the kids to run errands, make phone calls, and do other personal chores. How do I fit it all in?
The solution: Gone are the days when people clocked in at the office at 9 a.m., put their heads down, and then punched out at 5 p.m. Today, the boundaries between work life and professional life are blurry—sometimes in a bad way, but sometimes in a good way. Here’s how to blend your two lives so your to-do list gets a little shorter each day.
Schedule work-hours tasks during work hours. You can’t meet with your financial advisor or get a Pap smear on the weekend, so treat these chores like a business meeting and get them on your calendar. No need to get personal, apologize or feel guilty. Just block out the time and label yourself as “out of the office.”
Use that lunch hour. You’re probably tempted to eat lunch at your desk and keep working, but don’t. Use your lunch hour to get out of the office and get something done. Leaving the office makes for a good midday break and allows you to accomplish a personal chore. My friend Sydney does her grocery shopping at noon (she has a cooler with ice packs in her trunk) so she doesn’t have to do it in the evening, when she’s tired, hungry and rushed. Genius.
Learn the lay of the land. Patronize the post office, dry cleaner and toy store near your office instead of in your neighborhood, so that it’s easier—and faster—to mail a package, pick up the laundry or grab a birthday gift.
Mix in necessary treats. On the weekend, a haircut or manicure can feel like a chore, but on a workday it can feel like a treat. If you have a big report to write, there’s no harm in writing it while you’re getting a pedicure. It might just be the ultimate win-win if your schedule allows.
Of course, every day won’t allow you the freedom to mix your professional and personal life, but the truth is we all allow work to creep into our personal time too often. So every once in a while it’s okay for the river to flow the other way.
Katherine Wintsch is a working mother of two and intimately familiar with the highs and lows of trying to keep it all together. As the CEO of The Mom Complex, she studies mothers around the world and helps businesses develop better products and services to meet their needs. For more information follow @kwintsch or visit The Mom Complex. And see her TEDx talk on motherhood here.