These are a few tips to ensure both the professional and personal aspects of your life run seamlessly like a well-oiled machine.
Women feel it’s unfair how work-life balance is perceived as something only they need to tackle. The ‘life’ aspect of work-life balance — bringing up children, taking care of aged parents, and running the household, even the basics such as ensuring food is on the table — should fall on the shoulders of both men and women.
This article, therefore, does not differentiate between men and women and is for those parents who aspire to make a mark at their workplace without compromising on quality time with their family, especially children.
If you are a parent and also aim to be the top performer, here is what you can do.
Plan, plan, plan
The bulk of stress and anxiety can be avoided if you plan your work week. Maintain a work diary on your smartphone or if you prefer the old-fashioned way, with paper and pen. On Monday morning, set aside an hour planning the week ahead. It’s an absolute myth that one has to slog long hours and burn the midnight oil to be a superlative performer at work. In fact, if you can switch off from work and spend time with your child on a daily basis, you can get to work the next day with renewed vigour.
It’s good to aim high but one should also have realistic goals. If you aim at finishing 10 difficult tasks in a single work day, it might not happen and will further bog you down and prevent you from having a balanced day.
Speak to your child
A senior media professional who is a top performer at work shares, “Once your child is old enough to understand, speak to her about your work. Take your child to your workplace occasionally, if possible. It will help in two ways — your child gains an understanding of the importance of your work and your co-workers gain awareness of your family demands and are less likely to take up your time during late evenings and weekends for low-priority work.”
Have a clear divide
Having a clear demarcation between work time and family time and not allowing the two to overlap goes a long way in helping maintain your peace of mind. This means not answering emails when you are talking to your child about his day and also ensuring your child is engaged productively so he does not interrupt you when you are working.
At least 20 minutes of unplugged time — no phone, laptop, television — should be sacrosanct. This time can be utilised in helping your child with her studies, playing games, discussing important issues, or even reading out a bedtime story. Remember, quality matters a lot more than quantity and so a brief but meaningful interaction is valuable and improves bonding with children.
It would be difficult for a working parent to manage parenting without a reliable support system. On days when working late is unavoidable or you have to travel out of town for an important meeting, you can fall back on the trusted backup — spouse, parent, or even a well-trained nanny.
The corner office can be yours
For those who think that becoming the top performer requires too many sacrifices, especially for a parent, it will also help to know the basic qualities that managers look for, which are often underestimated. Here are three qualities a working parent can easily inculcate within himself or herself:
Managers expect their best people to go beyond their regular work responsibilities and take initiative. This does not mean that you have to grab every new project or responsibility that comes your way. But if you feel you could do justice to an additional task that goes beyond the purview of your regular work, do take it up. It will surely get you appreciation.
High performers are good team players. Networking with your co-workers irrespective of the department and hierarchy, as well as maintaining a good rapport with suppliers and clients will stand you in good stead. This need not take up too much of your time. Picking up the phone to say a hello, visiting a colleague at their workstation to thank them for a job well done, or an occasional lunch outing will help shape your network.
Old-fashioned niceness might be the most under-rated quality in top performers. This doesn’t mean becoming a pushover and allowing people to walk all over you. But politeness and consideration will win you as many fans, if not more, as meeting your deliverables.