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I would love to but I have no time…

20220128-074501I-havent-got-the-time-by-Nicola-Mooney-1

By Nicola Mooney @nicksnook   Network Leader @WomenEdSW


This blog post is about something that is very important to me. I have 4 sons ranging from 3-16, I work full time, and am hoping to become a secondary headteacher in the future.

I am writing this blog while son #3 (aged 6) is at a bowling birthday party, and #4 (aged 3) is playing in soft play with his friends. Neither need me to be constantly supervising them, so I will pick up and put down this blog a paragraph at a time to check in on them. I have become accustomed to code switching but have never been able to effectively multitask. I can concentrate on only one thing at a time. Doing things in this way enables me to get quite a lot done but I don't think I will ever be able to multitask so I have let that expectation go.

The tips in this blog are far from the finished article, I will never entirely have this right, and I continue to work on my time management. I have had times in my career where I have found workload unbearable and have often found that this comes from my own failure to have firm enough boundaries. This is due to my perfectionist, and slightly obsessive, nature. Self-awareness is really useful. 


Know who you are, what drives you, and what in your head is the ideal balance you want.


For some people this is flexible working, and for others, it isn't. If you want to be connected to people who are doing either effectively, then DM me and I will link you up with people who can help.

In the last two years since writing a blog called 'Having it All', I have learned so much more and want to share this with others who may find it useful. I read and listen to audiobooks, I make use of coaching and my networks to draw out things from other people's lives that can be practical in improving my own working practices, habits and priorities.

I came across a brilliant book recently called 'Style Substance'. It is by a fabulous woman called Helen Morrissey, who is a very successful businesswoman and mother to nine children. If you want to really know how to win at combining work and a family, then this is essential reading.

The expectations that other people have of you are also something you need to consider. Another really good book that helped reframe my thinking is a book called Unbound by Kasia Urbaniak. She empowers women to be able to say no to things; but also encourages readers to be very explicit about what they want and to be aware of 'invisible labour' in the home. This can be overwhelming if you have more than your fair share of domestic labour and decision making. The book also discusses the fact that delegation in the work place can be a real privilege to both parts of a working relationship. I go back to the idea when I wrote that 'having it all' is not 'doing it all'.

Below is a list of tips that I have put into practice and that work for me:


Emails

If you email a lot, then people will reply. This becomes very time consuming. Email less.

Read emails only once. When you read them, respond and don't come back to them. If you don't have time to respond then don't read them until you can. 

Set aside specific time slots to read and action emails. I am still practising getting better on this because if I see a red dot or hear a ping, I find it very hard not to look. Removing notifications is helpful. A good time for me to do emails is in the afternoon or in the evening when my energy levels are low.

Time To Think

Find your time to do hard thinking. 

For me this is first thing in the morning when I'm not likely to be disturbed. A hard task in the morning could take me 30 minutes then, but over an hour if I did it in the afternoon or evening when my brain is frazzled.

Know when to do easy things. If I need to make requisitions for my lessons or fill out order forms for resources, I will do this in the afternoon as they take little conscious effort.

Boundaries

A start and end time to your day. Get into the habit of sticking to this.

Use your Support Networks

Ensure that you effectively use support networks/ in every aspect of your life. This is give and take. Try to give as much as you can but be careful that relationships are balanced. People can get into the habit of taking advantage.

Get Rid of the Monkeys

Read Ken Blanchard's One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey. It is an easy read and a game changer. I had it recommended by my NPQH coach. 

DO NOT take on other people's monkeys unless they actually are yours. I'm not going to explain anymore because you definitely need to read this book. If you have no time to read it, make time as it will lead to you having way more time!

Work or Hobby?

If you consider Edutwitter to be work, don't do it. My husband considers me looking at it, writing blogs, etc as work, I consider it a hobby. Decide for yourself. If it feels like work then give it a miss.

Prioritise

Get good at prioritising. I write lists of the most important things I must action. Bullet journaling works for some but didn't for me. Post it notes are my level!

I don't have time for myself... sometimes you must be really strict with this one and make time. Often when people say this, I feel that they aren't prioritising time for whatever it is. When I feel like I don't have any downtime I check my phone usage record. If it's hours of emails then that is work, but if it's my social media use, or audiobooks then this is my downtime. This downtime is essential but be realistic and honest about the fact you are getting it, and, if you want to use 'you time' in a different way, then do it.

Habits and Self Care

In physics we know that overcoming inertia is hard and keeping going is easier. It's the same with everything. Once something becomes a habit then it takes less effort to keep going. 

Recently I started running again. This is after a very long break. I joined a running club on Monday evenings and have made sure my husband comes too (leaving my big children to look after the little ones). It is 45 minutes a week. For the first two weeks, I tried to back out at the last minute. Getting my husband to insist I remain committed to it makes it easier for me. I'm actually looking forward to going tomorrow. It is now a habit.

Time consuming things that I did not enjoy as much as pampering such as haircuts, brow dye, waxing, lash extensions and having gel nails, I now have alternate things in place so that spare time can be used for things I do enjoy. I now do all these things myself, with exception of the haircut but we have a hair dresser come to the house every 5 weeks or so to do everyone in one go.

Obviously if these are things you enjoy, then do prioritise this 'you' time.

Weekends and After School Clubs

If you have children, then the treadmill of swimming, ballet, judo, football or whatever can add another very time-consuming dynamic to your week. 

Consider a balance that isn't overwhelming. 

As a child I went to brownies once a week. I survived perfectly well on that. Don't feel you need them to have a very full social life. 

It can sometimes be quite stressful for children and remember they need time to decompress too.


These are all things that have helped me.

At present I feel that I have achieved a good balance.

From time to time, I accept that this will change so stay posted for future updates!

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Wednesday, 29 June 2022

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