Work-Life Balance?

Image by Gerd Altmann.

QUESTIONS ANSWERED

Sometimes I have wondered what to write about, only for someone to text me a question and I suddenly have a 5 paragraph response, complete with bullet points (haha) and reference links. And I wonder if this is God’s way of helping me to get out what’s in my heart (and head) and share it with others. So I’ll embark on a few of those questions, questions that I have received from others, and others that have bothered me.

I am in no way a super-hero, but sometimes I get questions that really flatter me. Like, how do I do it all – I’m a wife, mother, masters student (and this year I’ve taken on 3 extra professional courses), the founder of Amazing Girl Mentorship Network and Cool Media Company, as well as friend and relative. How do I get it all done? How do I maintain a – that tricky word comes up – balance?

Well, I wouldn’t say much about balance, so I’ll try and respond to this one briefly. Well, by God’s grace, He’s given me all those opportunities, priceless ones that I do not take for granted. So when I get a chance to do anything, I really want to give it my all, because I know the pain of denied opportunities, whether through not having qualified or simply, cartels :(. But even more importantly, realizing that God has chosen to gift me with responsibilities and opportunities that are prayer items for others, and were once prayer items for me.

The Pros of Having a lot to do

I like the variety that having a lot on the table brings. It means that there can hardly be time for boredom – yes, I know that that is one thing that plagues many people. Being on the move constantly is energizing, it’s beautiful, it opens my eyes and helps me learn a lot. It is also an antidote to impatience because as many programs run concurrently, it’s easier to wait for the longer-term goals and dreams to be fulfilled. Say, for example, waiting for feedback from academic supervisors. If that’s all I was doing, boy oh boy would I not be frustrated! But because I’m busy, I have little time, room or energy to brood about that as I watch other areas bloom.

It also helps me grow in various areas, making me somehow independent in several things, which is something I really value. Being able to run with a project from start to end knowing that if any of the service providers failed to show up I’d still do their part feels great.

It is also a wonderful distraction for those of us, yes, I included, who are prone to dark, depressive thoughts. The busyness of life is a good distraction because it’s like a light that comes on and dispels the uninvited darkness.

One final lesson I’d like to list for now is that it teaches me humility. With so much to do, there is definitely need for help from others – be it professional help such as working with suppliers, service providers, logistical help, whoa, or even more personal help such as baby care when I’m up and about. It teaches me to be patient, to value, appreciate and treasure everyone’s input, pay fairly and wear the right attitude because, in some areas, financial rewards cannot ever begin to match the value of the help that I receive.

Cons of Having a lot to do

Of course, it’s very tiring sometimes! It can be overwhelming especially when some projects are running concurrently, and then, as nature would have it, Murphy’s law sets itself in place. Wueh! You can literally cry. But when all the projects come to an end – such as a successful event and book launch, then the feeling of joy is priceless.

it’s easy for some things to fall through the cracks, and sometimes the most important ones are the most silent, and you only realize later, like when being a mom/techpreneur means that I spend so much time on the phone and miss out on real quality time with my family, who have to ‘understand’ because I’m ‘working for them’. (Yes, you can insert the rolling eyes emoji if you like.)

The other dangerous thing is being a jack of all trades and a master of none. Well, having many trades is priceless if you ask me, but not being able to pick one that can get you out of a crisis when need be can feel very helpless and overwhelming. It can also be pretty hard to explain to people, even potential employers/clients what you are really good at and get them to hire you.

So how have I circumvented the cons, especially?

I once learnt from the once-famous SHE Radio program (Radio 316) that all a wife needs to do is to look good, cook good and keep the house clean. So I try to do that, and as long as I have a reasonable house in which to live, I thank God for the extra bucks flowing in. I employ the use of technology where I can, and where I can’t, I look for prime time to get a lot done simultaneously e.g. when the kids are asleep, then I can cook and clean in a jiffy and be free to be with them when they awake.

I also wake up early in the morning and work before the kids get up, that way, they don’t really have to compete with the phone or the computer.

I do as much as I can on my own, to avoid the time wasted in outsourcing and waiting (which is why having many skills helps), but in areas where it’s more cost-effective and time-saving to outsource, I do so and gladly pay the price. For example, I’d rather pay a rider to handle my collections and deliveries than to do so myself, so that I can spend that time with my family, or reading, or generating more business.

I try to put my phone away, and sometimes even off when I am with the kids. I’ll have it charging in another room and will seek permission to check on it for important communication. I respect those little dear persons of mine, I do. And after an experience with my daughter that you can read about HERE, I decided that the phone should always be secondary to my family.

In the same vein, I put my phone on silent when I’m working, and respond to calls after I’m done with my intellectual work, e.g. writing, editing, designing, reading, research and so on. I set aside time for phone calls and social media, otherwise, I’d not be able to work really well with those interruptions – some of which I must say would be good, such as catching up with a friend or talking with new potential clients.

I am also in the process of learning to package and sell myself as one kind of professional where that is needed. For example, I’ll say that I’m a mentor or a life coach, and leave it at that. When I go into the details of how I do my work, some people feel that it’s too much and can get confused. Yet as a mentor, for example, I must have writing and speaking skills for one on one and group/public communication. I must produce training manuals and be able to eloquently express myself on all platforms. I must be able to organize successful mentoring events and that might mean designing a few flyers and managing some social media pages. It means that I have to be good at partnership building to get people to come on board for events, but no, now I don’t say all that, I simply say that I am a mentor or a life coach. The devil is in the details, and you can meet him if you really want to (sic).

In Conclusion

So, in a nutshell, that’s about it. I thank God for the joy of having a lot to do, I recognize the pros and the cons and plan accordingly. I get up early and do as much as I can when the kids are asleep (both homemaking and professional work), handle as much as I can on my own in order to save on time and cost, outsource whatever saves me even more time and frees me up to be with my family, and get lots of wonderful baby care help when I must be on the move, even for days at a time. And yes, I stay away from technology as much as I can in order to focus on real life, even though I love all things tech, movies and series. It’s not a walk in the park, but I’ve got a good rhythm for it now, it’s not perfect but it works, and I consciously and proactively look for ways to improve how I do it all, because, really, all those things are a part of me and constitute in making who I am.

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