Struggling working mum? Six tips to help you take control of your work-life balance

Are you in control of your home and work life? Or does it feel that you’re just trying to keep your head above water? Read practical tips to help you achieve a healthy work-life balance.

It probably won’t surprise to you to learn that a number of studies reveal that modern women feel under pressure to succeed in all areas of their lives. Indeed, many of us push ourselves so hard in an effort to please everyone and be perfect, that we face burning out.

So what’s the answer? Give something up? Stop working and be a stay at home mother? Hire round the clock help at home? Or lower our standards and be okay about letting balls drop?

Actually you don’t need to make drastic changes either way. Instead, by making a few small tweaks to your life, you can take back control and keep everyone happy, including yourself.

How to take control of your work-life balance

Here are six tips to help you manage the expectations of people around you (as well as yourself) and harness technology to take back control of your work-life balance.

1) Decide on a realistic plan (and set clear boundaries)

The best place to start is to work out a realistic plan, and organise your workload accordingly – then stick to it!

It’s important to set clear boundaries and expectations for both your work colleagues and family. This way you won’t resentfully and distractedly try to complete projects during family time. And you won’t feel guilty because you’re not 100% with your family in the evenings and weekends.

With a solid plan in place, you shouldn’t need to take work home with you. Instead you’ll be able to keep all parties happy (and feel better yourself).

2) Take control of distracting calls

If an important project needs your full attention, you’ll have a better chance of finishing it on time if you’re not interrupted every other minute by a colleague’s request or a customer’s demands.

So research apps that enable you to manage your calls and messages. Find one that lets you set up personalised voice messages and automated text messages that give details about your availability and when people can expect an answer.

This way you’re setting a clear timeframe regarding your availability. And your customers and colleagues will find it much less frustrating than calling you repeatedly without an answer.

(These seven time-saving apps for freelancers will help you use technology to better manage your time and workload.)

3) Save time with voicemails

How may hours a year do you waste listening to voicemails? Wouldn’t it be much easier (and less time-consuming) to just get an app to transcribe them for you? This way you can quickly make a call as to whether something needs your immediate attention or you can deal with it later.

4) Stop checking emails in your spare time

It’s all too tempting to check your work emails and quickly just respond when you’re not working. But not only does this mean you’re always ‘on’, but you’re training your customers and colleagues to expect to be able to reach you around the clock.

Instead, add your working hours to your email signature and stick to them. This may be hard initially if you’re used to clicking on your email inbox every few minutes, but like all habits, with determined practice it can be broken.

5) Switch off

This is crucial. Getting enough down time and sleep is essential if you want to avoid burnout. So make sure you carve out time for yourself so you can recharge your batteries.

As busy as your life may be, it’s important that you still find time for activities you enjoy; things that sustain and revive you. In the long run these will give you energy, rather than deplete you, and ensure you’ll have more time, energy and enthusiasm for everyone else in your life the rest of the time.

Getting good quality sleep each night is essential for good mental health too (not always easy if you have a baby or toddler!). If you struggle with sleep, read eight ways to get a better night’s sleep. And if your child is a poor sleeper, read five expert tips to get your children to sleep at night.

6) Separate work and personal calls

To avoid carrying two phones, many of us use just one phone number for both work and personal calls. This makes it more difficult when you want to disconnect from work as you can’t just turn off your phone and forget the world.

Thanks to technology, this can be easily solved. Look for an app that separates work calls from personal ones, and allows you to switch off professional calls when you’re not at work.

Find what works for you

Balancing a successful, rewarding career with raising a family (and making time for yourself) isn’t always easy. And there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. So find a balance that works for you, and strategies that allow you to live well.

And remember that no one gets it perfectly right all the time. We all have good days and bad days, but as long as, on balance, you’re happy and contented with your life, then you’re doing fine. Just learn to let the rest of it go.

Allyson Munarriz is Head of Marketing at Another Number.